A Ruling Over Embedded Tweets Could Change Online Publishing

from Wired

ONE OF THE most ubiquitous features of the internet is the ability to link to content elsewhere. Everything is connected via billions of links and embeds to blogs, articles, and social media. But a federal judge’s ruling threatens that ecosystem. Katherine Forrest, a Southern District of New York judge, ruled Thursday that embedding a tweet containing an image in a webpage could be considered copyright infringement. The decision can be appealed, but if it stands and is adopted by other courts, it could change the way online publishing functions.

Here’s what happened: In 2016 Justin Goldman took a photograph of NFL quarterback Tom Brady and Boston Celtics president and manager Danny Ainge in the Hamptons and posted it to his Snapchat Story. The photo was newsworthy because at the time, the Celtics were reportedly trying to recruit NBA star Kevin Durant. It was interesting that the team’s manager brought along someone who played an entirely different sport. The photo soon went viral, and eventually was posted on Twitter and Reddit by several different users. Online publications including Breitbart, Yahoo, The Boston Globe, and Heavy.com then embedded the tweets into news stories. Goldman, backed by Getty Images, sued—arguing that the publications had infringed on his copyright to the photo.

This week, Judge Forrest sided with Goldman and argued that the publications violated his “exclusive display right,” despite the fact that they didn’t host the photo on their servers (more on that in a second). By simply embedding a tweet—a function which Twitter makes simple—Forrest says the publications engaged in a “technical process.” She readily admits that none of them downloaded the photo and then uploaded it to their own sites, but, she argues, it doesn’t matter that the publications weren’t hosting the photos themselves.

Judge Forrest based her decision on two foundational technology copyright cases. One is Perfect 10 v. Amazonfrom 2007, where the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Google could display full-size copyrighted images in search results, as long as it was simply linking to the content, not hosting it themselves. That case established what is known as the “server test”—the idea that the entity hosting the content should be liable, not someone who links to it.

More here.

Posted in IPRs, Web and tagged , , , .


  1. This is ridiculous. Yes, Twitter users should get credit for their own tweets, but generally, tweets are publicized already. If it’s made illegal to show someone else’s tweet, it’ll become all too easy to break the law. Considering the fact, also, that when tweets are shared, the username isn’t always blocked out, the original poster gets credit in the end.

    However, in the case that the username is blocked out, unless it’s a matter of protecting the anonymous and innocent, yes, this should be illegal. Using someone else’s content for your own personal ends is selfish and inconsiderate of the original creator’s desires.

    The Snapchat story that Justin Goldman posted in 2016 was public. People could see it, and nothing could have stopped them from taking screenshots to put on their own sites. Goldman should have considered this before posting.

    I’d know. I once shared my phone number out of fear that net neutrality would end and got a prank call from someone in my residence hall.

    The solution here for both sides of the argument would be to have Snapchat do two things.

    1: Notify the user when anyone takes a screenshot of his story. (This is a feature, but the user does not receive a push notification.)

    2: Allow sharing links and a view count for other platforms. (This would be tricky, because the purpose of Snapchat is to record memories that will later disappear from the platform.)

    3: Compromise by giving the users the choice to allow or bar sharing and make indefinitely-lasting posts.

    Google does this right—the article says that they simply link the content. Furthermore, there’s an option in the image search results to send feedback, and a note that says “Images may be subject to copyright”.

    The post does bring up a good point—articles may lose a tweet if it’s deleted. The issue here is that the tweet was never fully private. http://archive.org could host it in the future. People could remember it. Take, for instance, @realDonaldTrump’s tweet:

    “Despite the negative press covfefe”

    There is plenty of evidence on the Internet that this tweet happened. The issue here has nothing to do with people re-using other people’s content without giving credit. It has to do with carelessly posting it in the first place.

  2. At first I didn’t know what they meant by ‘embedding’ a tweet. I believe they mean in articles when they have a screenshot, or what looks like a screenshot, of a tweet for reference. I honestly don’t understand the problem. Embedding tweets is like citing a source for research. It has the name of who tweeted, date and time, where (Twitter), and what was said. I am a little confused how the person who sued posted the picture in question on snap chat, and the article ended up being about embedding tweets into articles. Embedding tweets, I would say are just like the citations on papers, and that if you are being cited and shared and you don’t want to be, then that’s tough because you can’t control what others do on the internet. Snap chat doesn’t work like Twitter. After you post a picture to your story it stays there for 24 hours and then isn’t available to look at anymore. They said he posted it on snap chat and other sources had posted the photo. Having Goldman’s “excessive display right” violated doesn’t make sense. Or maybe I’m ignorant. If he wanted credit for the photo all he had to do was put his name on the photo in a water mark of sorts. If he wanted compensation for the photo he could have sold the photo to someone instead of posting it on Snap chat where whoever follows him can see it. People post pictures all the time that get shared and liked everyday. Pictures going viral is normal. If he made an argument I can make the same about a picture that goes viral that’s from me.

  3. Embedded links have become a common source of sharing information throughout the web. The use of these embedded links should not be limited. The embedded material used for multimedia purposes could not result in an income loss or unjust enrichment because of the grounds on which the media is shared isn’t intended to receive any economic gain. The post that Goldman uploaded on snapchat was a public post, his intentions had nothing to do with copyright infringement.
    I am currently doing a research project in which my professor grades me on the resources I site and by the use of multimedia links through embedded coding which must be inserted into the project. Even though the links I use are assumed to be sited I still need to site where I received my information through the use of hyperlinks and such. This decision could affect the origin of citations and who will have the access to use them for blogging, business, or educational purposes.

  4. This is a very new topic to me. I had no idea there were any lawsuits being filed for tweets or pictures being used in tweets. I just assumed that once you posted it to Twitter or Snapchat or Facebook it was out for public use. It seems like something that would be put in the terms and conditions that no one ever reads. However, after reading this article I found out how complicated these cases can get. The specific distinction between a tweet being embedded or actually hosted by a site is apparently the topic of a lot of discussion. The “server test” that states the site hosting the content should be liable and not the person who linked to it seemed reasonable. Then the article gave Forrest’s opinion that news sites are not the same as search engines and do not function the same way.
    All of this was new to me but it still seemed like the whole subject is relatively new to everyone and there is definitely no standard to follow with these cases. Justin Goldman appeared to take advantage of the fact that there was not much legal precedent and get a quick ruling in favor, catching Yahoo, Breitbart, The Boston Globe, and Heavy.com off guard. It’s understandable that he wanted to be the only person to use his picture but he pretty much was. The online publications only embedded his tweet and did not directly post the picture on their website. From what the article later describes, if Goldman had deleted his tweet then the picture would not appear from the sites’ embedding. It is similar to the Perfect 10 v Google case. Google was allowed to display pictures in the search results as long as they were just links and not directly hosting the images. If Forrest’s opinion stands then it will completely the very little amount of legal precedent that we already have for this topic. Whether it is a news site or a search engine the ruling should be the same because a link is a link, it doesn’t matter what kind of website it is on. It is good to set precedents early so later on we will not have these same problems and I think Judge Forrest’s opinion is misguided. Goldman overreacted to the use of his tweet and Forrest stood by him. The news sites should not be held liable in this case whatsoever.

  5. The internet is such a necessity in the modern world that it becomes rather difficult for a person to network or stay connected with friends or family. There are also plenty of other reasons to use the internet such as: receiving the news, uploading images, owning an online business, shopping for clothes and food, and taking online college classes. These are just a few examples of uses for the internet. Within the recent years, just like the past decade, more people have begun receiving news information online rather than, watching the news media companies on the television. This created a major shift in the method of how to deliver news media to their consumers. As a result, they started using social media platforms to deliver the news.

    This use of online news media, became a major benefit to the consumers who perform all of their daily tasks online. It gave them another market to engage in and also allows them not to be limited to one specific news media outlet. The recent controversy with an individual’s snap chat photo being used by media companies of a professional athlete and an athlete’s manage may change and perhaps even limit the way content is sent and received around the internet. According to the article, “A judge in the Southern District of New York ruled Thursday that, embedding a tweet containing an image in a webpage could be considered copyright infringement”. These notions may be in affect due to the media outlets violating the individual’s rights by taking his pictures and using them for their own interests. They did so by, creating a story of the images and releasing them to their consumers.

    I feel that, the government should regulate the way media is allowed to send and receive news information just to get consumers engaged. It seems to me that, they will do whatever it takes just to increase their ratings and views. Even if it is not illegal, it is really unethical. If they want to post a story with someone else’s images without consent then, these media outlets should be the liable groups. The companies are finding the loopholes around these laws and think it is acceptable to perform these unethical tasks. I agree that, you should not take anyone’s image on a webpage without permission because, that is a form of copyright infringement.

    In conclusion, if we do not let the media outlets become responsible for posting content that does not belong to them on the internet then, they will post any story as they see fit violating any individual’s copyrights. It is unethical and illegal to use someone else’s intellectual property. As a result, why let the media companies do it on the internet? I think it is a great concept to be able to search for information on anything a person desires but, I also think people should not steal other people’s data. When that starts to happen consistently then, the government will have no choice but to regulate. If companies such as the media or digital newspaper companies begin to take advantage of the system, this is when the government needs to regulate becomes a necessity for the internet.

  6. In a society where social media plays a huge role. I do not believe that linking a picture or statement into a tweet should be considered as a crime. This idea is making the approach to social media to be extremely more formal than it needs to be. Usually the millions of linked attached to the one picture or post will lead you back to the original owner. If a person is apposing to be someone they are not I believe that there should be a penalty in place for those actions. Stealing the credit of another person’s work I consider to be wrong in all shapes and forms. A simple retweet or quote of another’s tweet is innocent behavior and a person should not be punished for using tweet in the proper way it was created. As long as the person who originated the idea had a chance to place ownership upon the object or idea there shouldn’t be speculations. Social media is a way to bond through different pictures and post that are shared through our time on social media. Putting restraints could cause an uproar of problems. So I say that people tweet, post and blog whatever their hearts desire.

  7. When was the last time you looked at the news? Did you use a newspaper? I can almost guarantee that you didn’t. The news is almost exclusive to television and the internet. One major source, is twitter. We do not think twice about seeing pictures, using them, or looking at them on a news source. However, that may soon be a thing of the past. Judge Forrest recently said that using pictures from twitter is copyright infringement. This ruling may pose a serious problem for media sources, and the way twitter currently works. This also spells trouble for other media sources that use pictures. Many people use media like twitter, facebook, and Instagram to receive news and keep up with current events. This recent issue with the snapchat photo will block many people from receiving or conveying news to the public. The main factor behind these arguments is money. People who take these pictures with social media want recognition for their picture. It can be interpreted as an “exclusive display right” but it can also be seen as being released into the public domain. If this ruling happened, we would have links to tweets with pictures, without the pictures. Twitter is a media that was created to send and share information publicly. The current ruling that Judge Forrest has on this issue will change how media works. It will make it a lot harder for information via pictures will be shared, and will honestly be a blockage to a smooth conveyance of news. If a photo is uploaded without a clear indication of whether or not it is copyrighted then it should be seen a public information. Most pictures have watermarks on them that indicate if they are copyrighted. Snapchat, twitter, and any other social media is a public domain that should be able to be viewed and used by anyone.

  8. Embedding tweets is basically using a small code from Twitter to show another tweet without having to screenshot it, another word for this is “quoting.” This article is basically making apparent that this action in conjunction with photographs will most likely no longer be available due to copyright issues. By embedding a tweet, the author is credited through their Twitter handle within the tweet, and therefore I do not see an issue of copyright infringement. However, Judge Katherine Forrest ruled a different way in favor of ruling embedded tweets infringement of copyright in these cases, because it “violates exclusive display rights” to the original publisher.
    With digital improvement throughout the years, embedding tweets has been a helpful and handy invention for Twitter users and news reporters. While Twitter can most of the time involve stupid conversations and funny tweets shared between friends, Twitter is also an incredible way of exchanging news throughout the world. From personal use of Twitter, I see news being spread through retweets, likes, and most importantly: tweets embedded in other tweets. Its a quick way of getting all the information you need about the embedded tweet and new tweet in one. While i mostly just see embedded tweets being short sentences, without photographs, this issue can change a lot for Twitter due to its use in spreading media. From basic understanding of copyright infringement, it doesn’t necessarily seem like embedding a tweet constitutes copyright infringement through the visual appearance of the tweet. The attached tweet would be abbreviated on someone’s timeline, and once they click on it, they will be brought the the tweet and embedded tweet, giving credit to both users.
    I didn’t know this case was happening at all. For such a big question and issue this raises, I am surprised that not more know about it. I completely disagree with the position Judge Forrest has taken on the situation because it seems like a pointless use of the law. An individual can just as easily screenshot the tweet and attach it to their tweet, and there would be barely any repercussion of it. I believe this ruling is just another way that publishers of the “copyrighted” material are getting money for a ridiculous accusation. I really don’t see how embedding a tweet with a photograph in it is a direct method of copyright infringement if: the author is credited, and individuals who view it are directly transferred to the publisher of the content. The ruling is erroneous, and if brought to the Supreme Court, I hope the Supreme justices realize the error in Judge Forrest’s reasoning.

  9. In a recent court case, Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in favor of a copyright infringement claim made by photographer Justin Goldman. His photo of Tom Brady and Danny Ainge, which he posted on Snapchat, was taken by websites such as Breitbart and The Boston Globe and were embedded in Tweets, since the picture was newsworthy. Judge Forrest deemed that the act of embedding the picture in the tweets was in violation of the photos copyright. The photo was copyrighted by Goldman’s company Getty Images.
    This case is very pertinent due to the nature of the ruling. Embedding photos is a natural part of Twitter. The social media company makes it very easy to embed any article or photo into a tweet. Because of this embedded photos are all over Twitter. This is one of the first times that an embedded photo has been brought to court for copyright infringement. What most companies do is ask to have the photos removed and most of the people who Tweet the photos comply and remove them. This is because the article itself is not in violation of the copyrights, it is just the photo.
    If this judgement is upheld, a new standard will be set and social media, especially Twitter will drastically change. If the ruling is upheld, it will be much harder for people and news organizations alike to embed pictures in their tweets without permission from the creator of the photo. Every photo embedded will be seen as copyright infringement. This will send shockwaves throughout social media because so many photos are already embedded in tweets. This has never really been seen as a problem before until now.
    This issue affects everyone who uses the social media app including myself. Twitter makes it so easy to embed articles and forms of multimedia in tweets. It is the main source of news for so many people. Now if legislation is passed stating that embedding pictures without permission is copyright infringement, the process to post these articles and news stories will become much more complicated.
    A portion of this article that is also confusing is the fact that Goldman originally posted the photo to his Snapchat story. How could the picture be considered copyrighted if he posted it on his own public Snapchat story? I feel that this case complicates things in the world of social media and there is absolutely no need for it.

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    case Swift 4
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    struct markStruct{
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    t markStruct{
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  11. The author mention Justin Goldman argued that the social media company violated his “exclusive display right,” by embedded his photography into posted on social media accounts. In 2016 Justin Goldman took a photograph of NFL quarterback Tom Brady and Boston Celtics president and manager Danny Ainge in the Hamptons and posted it to his Snapchat Story. After he posted the photo on Snapchat, the picture went viral, and many people repost his photo. Display right is a copyright holder’s exclusive right to show or exhibit a copy of protected work. The problem in the Goldman case is the display the photo on the social media and the people simply just tweeting the link to Goldman’s post. People aren’t claiming the right of the photograph or using his photograph in their post. Whenever people using other people’s work on Instagram, they will always cite the author and said the report on the bottom of the image. Goldman can also protect his right by putting the watermark on his photograph and watermark can prevent the image from copyright infringement.
    On the other hand, when Goldman posts the photo on the Snapchat story, the automatic grant the social media sites a license to use his photograph, therefore Twitter can embed his picture in the tweets. However, the ruling of Goldman’s case will set a precedent for the upcoming litigation and will change how social media companies conduct business. Judge Forrest agree with people are not claiming the right of Goldman’s photo, but she argues publications weren’t hosting the images themselves. She makes her decision based on two precedents.
    First is Perfect 10v. Amazon case, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Google could display full-size copyright images in search results, but Google will have to cite the sources of the photos and provide the link of the pictures, this rule is known as the “sever test.” In the Goldman case, Judge argues that news site will not apply to serve test rule because news site doesn’t function the same as Google does. Google only provide search resulted to people, in the other hand, news site provides information to users without the need for search.
    Second is Aereo’s Supreme Court case; the Supreme Court ruled Aereo couldn’t broadcast copyrighted television channels over the internet because broadcast television channels online are using technology other than radio waves. Judge Forrest said embedding and re-uploading photo all gives the same result to the users, which is a photo appears. However, I don’t agree with Judge Forrest, when people report a picture, they will cite the source, just like when you were reading a book and at the end of the book you will see a list of citation. The ending resource of a photo appear may not the same, but embedding is not counted as copyright infringement.
    In response to Coby’s comment, I do agree the result of Goldman case will change how social media work, but I am sure after the case, the social media companies will come up with terms and agreements to make people release the copyright of the pictures.

  12. In the article A Ruling Over Embedded Tweets Could Change Online Publishing by Louise Matsakis. I think this is true when the judge states how there needed to be some type of proof that the photo was the owners. This goes back to copying and plagiarism. Like we all learn in high school and maybe even younger we must always give credit that something is not ours. When writing a paper we wrote giving credit was important. Photos on social media should be treated the same way. If it is not yours there should be credit given to the owner. They should also get permission to use the social media or photos on social media. Personally, if I took a photo and posted it on Twitter and all of sudden it became viral or news worthy, I would want credit on every photo of mine and I would also want to be asked if they could use the photo and copy. What if I never wanted my photo to go viral on twitter or tweet to go viral or be posted by certain people. This goes in hand with privacy and how public social media actually is. There are ways to prevent leaks and privacy, but social media is still on the world-wide internet. This Digital Millennium Copyright Act is great to those who want certain social media content to remain theirs and to have rights to that social media.

  13. It’s interesting to see how social markets today handle the subject of intellectual property. As the world moves more towards new innovations in technology, I’m not surprised new rules and regulations about peoples ideas and concepts are coming out. The more you look at it, the more it makes sense; in a society where data and information is the worlds currency, there is no debate whether that information should be legally protected. The same idea goes for what people post on social sites (unless otherwise described in terms of usage contracts). I’m sure, based on a lot of info from this article, that it gets sticky when deciding who owns what and what the social media sites are allowed to use. I was under the assumption that when you posted information like photos or videos to these social sites (Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), the information could be used by the sites… but I guess things and rules change on a daily basis…
    I’m sure in the future there will be a more standardized set of rules that rely on, and this case sets a well defined precedence. Because of this case, I’m also sure many social media outlets like Buzzfeed (and other news reporting sites) will have to take greater precautions about obtaining rights to photos, videos, and articles they want to use. It’s a well known fact that when you use someone’s info online, you have to site it accordingly. This new idea being put into play will cripple the new organization’s ability to report stories quickly, mainly due to the fact that they need to get rights for any press photos.
    As for the case talked about in the article, it’s pretty hit or miss regarding most peoples opinions are. Some people think that it is his right to have ownership over the property, and other believe that it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. I personally agree with ‘upping’ the intellectual property laws, but I also don’t think this case was handled the way it should have been. Yes, he definitely has the right to his property whether that is in the physical sense or technological sense, but overall this may have been a stretch for him. Creating a legal case for tweets isn’t your everyday issue, but it is still valid. When I first heard of this case when it was actually happening, a lot of people agreed that it was selfish for him to create a legal case because of the embedded tweets. Many think he only created the case because he saw how viral it got, and it’s hard to argue with them. All in all, I think protecting intellectual property is the next big step for this generation, because with guaranteed protections in place, it cultivates a better community for creativity. For example, if I created a new phone battery that lasts two weeks on one charge, I may be hesitant to put it on the market fearing other companies stealing this ide. The more we can do to counteract this, the better for the community.

  14. As a teenage woman going into young adulthood in America I can be the first to personally tell you about the issue with addiction to social media and other websites. Currently, the entire education system is going digital giving the youth more of an excuse to be completely immersed in technology and the internet. A main issue with the current way society is, is that everything in youth culture is online and if you aren’t: you are missing out. The issue with this is that teenagers do not want to get off of their virtual community because it seems that something is always happening at a second’s notice and if they get off of the internet they are going to miss out on something. Essentially, the argument im trying to make is that the FOMO is so bad most teens would rather stay raveled up in their phones then enjoy the present day. To clarify for any readers that are concerned FOMO is the fear of missing out. I strongly feel that it is very important for these teens to realize that if they collectively put down their phones and not be so worried about snapchat and instagram, that they could enjoy eachothers company person to person. With this being said the actions of the other generations in their earlier periods of life is not why the youth is furious; the youth is enraged because millenials and gen Z will accept responsibility for their hand in the developed dependency on smartphones as they pushed industrialization so hard. It is concerning to see the way individuals become when they do not have access to their phones, it seems as if they go into an instant and also constant state of anxiety showing they are actually capable of becoming addicted to their smartphones. My suggestion for improvement on this issue is that these students have mandated times where the class has to come together outside of the classroom and bond almost like a community service requirement. I feel that in doing so it will allow students to be able to get to hangout and have quality face to face time rather than facetime time and in turn make them more apt to stay off of their smartphone devices voluntarily. I believe because growing up two weeks out of the summer I would go away to an overnight summer camp called camp talooli. At this camp we got to hangout with peers all day doing activities together and even eating all meals together without any technology. I loved this because I got to get to know these people so fast and create such good bonds because I was not worried about talking to the people back home. For this reason I feel that my idea would be successful because after a day at camp I did not miss being on my phone at all and honestly prefer not to be.

  15. After reading the article and other comments that have been made, I would like to say I do not believe that embedding pictures in tweets should be illegal. Copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced and repurposed without the permission of the owner. Does embedding an image fit into this category? Twitter makes it easy to embed pictures in your tweet with the simple push of a button. In doing so, the poster is not looking to claim the original as their own or cause any harm. The purpose of embedding tweets is to share information with one’s followers and the public. If the person embedding the picture is not claiming the property, I do not believe there was any infringement made. Instead, I believe that embedding a picture is completely ethical and legal. Even more so if the original poster is linked and credited. Once someone posts an image onto social media, that image can be saved, shared, and screenshotted by anyone that sees it. To rule that doing this is illegal would be to negate years’ worth of social media content.

    There are many accounts on social media platforms that are dedicated to sharing and reposting other’s content. This is not done maliciously but instead as a way to spread awareness of the original posters’ content. If anything, embedding a picture that is someone else’s is like quoting a source. There is no intent besides sharing information and images with other people. Is it ethical to share the picture without linking the original poster? Yes. Is it illegal? It should not be. The issue of saying embedding images is illegal is one that can affect every social media platform and user. A picture posted publicly with no copyright on it should not be able to be claimed. Let’s use YouTube as an example. When someone posts publicly on YouTube, their content is shared with everyone and anyone can save and reupload that content as their own or share. The difference between YouTube and Twitter is that on YouTube when you post, your video is protected by basic copyright laws that state whatever you post is yours and you have the right to claim other videos with your content be taken down or demonetized. Twitter does not have this feature so anything that is posted can be spread by others wit no copyright protection. If I tweet out a picture of a pizza with a caption about how it is and someone reposts it on their Twitter food page as ‘Good looking pizza,” what right do I have to claim that the account is taking my intellectual property. When you put a picture out to the public with no protection, there is no guarantee of what will happen but there is no way to counter it without prior legal restrictions.

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