What Businesses Should Know About Copyright and Twitter Use

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Your Twitter page is a powerful brand-building tool – it can help you do everything from grow your customer base to land you a book deal, which is why it makes perfect sense for you to protect what you tweet. While Twitter has always had policies for handling copyright infringement related to embedded media such as photos, videos and links, it appears the social media giant also intervenes in cases when a user copies another's tweet without attributing the original user – a practice that's been happening since Twitter's beginnings.

Over the weekend, a Twitter user called @PlagiarismBad pointed out that several users who copied and pasted a joke first tweeted out by user @runolgarun -- a Los Angeles-based freelance writer named Olga Lexell – were taken down by Twitter on copyright grounds. 

Related: What I Wish All My Employees Knew About Twitter

According to The Verge, Lexell later posted a tweet confirming she had filed a request to Twitter to have the tweets taken down, arguing that the jokes she wrote for her Twitter feed are her intellectual property and the users who copied and pasted her work didn't have her consent.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

While it's rare to see this kind of action taken (tweets are copied and pasted without attribution all the time), it's not unheard of.Here's an example of another taken-down tweet from 2012:

When it comes to copyright issues and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), Twitter says it handles complaints around copyrighted images in accounts (like a background or profile picture), videos and photos uploaded to the site via the company's hosting services. While there is no mention of actual tweets or jokes in the description, the company does say that it investigates allegations about "tweets containing links to allegedly infringing materials."

In order to address a copyright complaint; the company has a form users need to fill out. It also requires the user's signature and contact information, a copy or link to the original work and a copy or link to the "infringing material."

If you are the author, you must submit a statement that says "you have a good faith belief that the use of the material in the manner asserted is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law." Or if you are working on behalf on an author, you have to issue a statement that says the complaint is "accurate, and, under penalty of perjury, that you are authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner."

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Related: Twitter Is Bleeding Users Because 'We Suck at Dealing With Abuse and Trolls'

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