News organizations are about to get much more careful about trolling Twitter in search of breaking news photos. Manhattan based U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan ruled that Twitter’s terms of service did not give either The Washington Post or Agence France-Presse the right to publish photographer Daniel Morel’s photos of a post-earthquake Haiti without his permission. This is an important step for those looking to keep their socially shared content from being used in commercial purposes.
In this specific case Reuters reports that initially the AP found the image via Twitter which was then distributed to Getty Images. Once in Getty Images The Washington Post and Agence France-Presse (reportedly both Getty clients) published the photos. Getty is also part of the litigation, but no ruling was given by the judge on their behalf as she noted that there were other issued to be resolved.
The judge specifically stated that while Twitter’s terms of service allows for “reposting and rebroadcasting of users’ images in certain circumstances, such as ‘retweeting’ them, it does not grant a license for commercial use” according to Reuters. The judge also limited damages that Morel could recover as he reportedly requested “tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.”
No trial date has yet been set. For more information see Reuters.