The landmark case found that Agence France-Presse and The Washington Post both infringed the copyrights of Daniel Morel, a photographer who posted photographs onto Twitter showing the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.
This case shows how intellectual property laws are changing with the advent of social media and how this is affecting all users who may post material onto social networking sites.
The news organisations claimed that once the pictures had been posted on to Twitter that were then freely available to use but the court ruled in favour of the photographer because under the terms and conditions of Twitter there is no permission given to news agencies to use the photos or material posted onto the site by users.
Any news agency wanting to use an image on Twitter must first contact the user who posted it to ask for their permission to publish this.
This specific case is due to continue to determine the recovery of costs due to the photographer and other details but it has drawn attention to how third parties use information posted on social media networks, especially if they are then used for commercial purposes such as on news sites and in newspapers.
General re-posting and tweeting of images through Twitter is allowed and even encouraged as a basis of the sites popularity but in the terms and conditions this cannot be used for commercial ends without permission and now many Twitter users will be watching carefully who is re posting their images and what they are then being used for.
Users of social media are increasingly becoming more aware of who has rights to their personal images and posts with the case of instagram changing their policy as to who owns the images once they are posting causing a general outcry among users and leading to a mass exodus of users of the app that is now owned by Facebook.
It has taken since 2010 for this specific case to get into the court room and it looks like it could still be some time before it is finally fully resolved being as the photos were also then distributed by AFP to Getty Images which then led to the Washington Post using them.
Any Twitter users posting photos need to remain aware that they can be shared and the only way to be sure that they are not used inappropriately is to not post them in the first place.
Photographers with news worthy photos are advised to approach news organisations directly to arrange possible sales of photographs and to avoid similar problems ion the future.
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