Tweets and copyright

This Kat is a bit of a fan of the WIPO MAGAZINE. For those of you that use the social networking service Twitter and share your thoughts online via so called "tweets", the July edition of WIPO MAGAZINE has a nice short article by Consuelo Reinberg which discusses whether tweets can ever be "original" enough to be protected by copyright (see also the AmeriKat's post here and here). For those of you that do not (yet) use Twitter and wonder what this post is all about, WIPO's article also includes some explanatory notes.

There is certainly an argument to be made that a collection of tweets could - under certain circumstances - qualifiy to be protected under database rights. In this regard, the IPKat recommends Dr Carsten Ulbricht's article (only in German) which can be accessed here.

By the way, just like the IPKat, WIPO can also be followed on Twitter (link here).
Tweets and copyright Tweets and copyright Reviewed by Birgit Clark on Monday, July 20, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. Now wondering how to treat the so-called repeat tweets ("retweets"), if tweets were protectable under copyright law, would retweeting then be covered by the right to quote? Can only think of the German Copyright Act at the moment, Art. 51 Urhebergesetz.

    Anyone any ideas or is this all really not that important anyway?

  2. 'Retweets' are commonly referred to as 'tweet-tweets' and the practice is known as 'two-tweeting'.

  3. Well, I'd say a tweet may at least bear the _potential_ of being copyrightable matter.
    Here's why:
    - A short poem would generally be accepted as qualified for copyright
    - The same will be true for a plurality of poems
    - I just performed a "representative" study of 11 Heikus (in German), finding an average length of 65 characters
    - This gives a potential of about two Heikus (i.e. a plurality of short poems) per tweet
    So there's definitely potential for copyright protection.
    But in fact most of the chirping I observe will - or at least should - never qualify for copyright protection; because it simply doesn't meet the standards of creative level..
    -- my 680 characters --


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