Judge Rules Newspapers Can’t Just Use Photos From Twitter As Their Own

Senior Contributor
01.16.13 8 Comments

Agence France-Presse, better known as the AFP is very concerned about copyrights. It has sued Google in the past over stories featured on Google News, for example. So, being that concerned about copyright, they… uh… decided that anything posted to Twitter was fair game because Internet. Oops!

We wish we were joking that this was the AFP’s argument for taking the photos, but that’s really what it boils down to:

AFP had argued that because the images were on Twitter, they were publicly available, but District Judge Alison Nathan pointed to Twitter’s terms of service, which do not give news organizations the ability to publish images without the photographer’s permission.

It gets a lot worse: The AFP not only denied the photographer, Daniel Morel, any credit, they then sold the images to Getty Images as their own. So, just to review, the company really, really concerned about protecting their intellectual rights not only stole some random stranger’s stuff, they then sold it and kept the money without his knowledge, and when the photographer called them out on this and sued them, their defense and the basis of their countersuit was that they were totally free because he posted them to social media, so neener. Which is the exact same thing newspapers have been whining about bloggers doing.

Morel is suing for damages based on every time the photo was reprinted without permission, but the judge is only allowing him to spank the AFP financially once. Oh, come on, Judge! We need more of this rich, delicious irony!

This is also important because it firmly establishes that anything posted to social media requires explicit permission to be run, and that the photographer has rights. But we’re more about the irony, really.

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