For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

I thought I saw an infringement of IP rights: Twitter users and copyright

A former Kat puts
her IPKat boots back on
(btw - speaking of boots - 

do you remember
this charming song?)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Kats like birds very much, and especially birds that tweet about copyright issues. 

While procrastinating getting updates on Twitter yesterday, this Kat spotted a tweet by delightful former guest Kat and current MARQUES - Class 46 contributor Laetitia Lagarde (Jacobacci) on this very topic, ie Twitter + copyright + France [can there ever be a better combination?]. So she asked Laetitia to kindly provide more information to IPKat readers and she tweeted ''Oui!' back in response.

Here's what Laetitia writes:

"Copyright week might be over but today this former guest IPKat – who, among other things, still tweets [here] about IP and cats – found it appropriate to pen this post [in a bit more than 140 characters] on the story regarding a French book published by Larousse (a publishing house specialised in reference works such as dictionaries) that attracted heavy criticisms, notably [and most shamefully, nods Merpel] accusations of infringing Twitter’s users IP rights. The book's title is Les Perles des Tweets et du Net, and it consists of a collection of Twitter users' tweets. 
The pearls/gems of tweets
- 100% true!

Eleonora the Kat inspired and prompted the legal question of whether tweets can be protected by copyright (under US law) earlier this month.

Today, the French offer the following answer.

The “pearls” of Twitter consist of 289 tweets on the “best of the worst” of Twitter or vice-versa. 

However, the "worstest" thing was that Larousse did not contact the Twittos (French for Twitter users) to obtain their authorisation to use their tweets. According to Twitter ToS, users retain their rights to any content they submit, post or display on or through Twitter services (yet granting a non-exclusive licence to Twitter).

As it is likely to be the case also under EU originality standard, those tweets can be protected under French copyright law if the author has expressed his/her own personality in an original manner. Funnily enough, the very aim of this book was to publish the most original Twitter gems ...

Furthermore, most tweets were published in the book without attribution. Larousse thought that by doing so they were protecting themselves against legal action … But they ignored that this could be considered also as a violation the authors’ moral rights, in accordance with article L-121-1 of the French IP code. 

In a recent US case, French news agency AFP was found liable of copyright infringement for unauthorised reproduction of pictures that photographer Daniel Morel had made available on Twitter. In November 2013, the District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Twitter’s terms of service do not imply a licence for using images in a commercial context, thus rejecting AFP’s argument that it could use the pictures because they were freely available on Twitter.

Amidst claims of copyright infringement of Twitter users' copyright, yesterday evening Larousse announced (also via Twitter, of course) that it would withdraw its (infamous) book from the market. This is an appropriate response to viral accusations ... which perhaps could have been easily avoided in the first place [for instance just by reading this blog, sighs Merpel]

***
'Copyright' in Larousse dictionary here and 'mot d’auteur' here 
Pearls, gems and cats here
Pearl Jam on Twitter here"

3 comments:

Roufousse T. Fairfly said...

There have been since time immemorial compilations of the best worst answers to the French baccalauréat exams floating about. (Physicist Henri Bouasse was railing about the continually declining knowledge of students. That was in... 1928.)

I see that there is even a web site dedicated to their collection, as well as insurance claim letters.

Will the dunces now come forward and claim their IP rights?

Maître Emmanuel Pierrat is a prolific and eclectic author who wrote many serious books inter alia about art, copyright law, moral and image rights, and book publishing.

Amongst his other works are books about sex ("Le sexe et la loi", "Paris érotique"), novels, but more to the point, compilations of the funniest nonsense heard in courts from lawyers and parties, published under the title "brèves de prétoire".

Could this IP specialist get into hot water because of this new decision? I sense irony...

Anonymous said...

Is tweety bird that popular outside of the states?

I did, I did see an infringement of IP rights!

Anonymous said...

Well it is slightly different in that saleability of this book of tweets is on the basis of their quality, and yet they argue no rights

In the latter the basis is the stupidity of lawyers. Surely the author would love to defend his book on stupidity from a stupid lawyer who brings a case..

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