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The Library of Congress acquired the entire Twitter database recently.

Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions.

When you register a copyright, you make that work publicly available through the Library of Congress.

Yes. Please be aware that when you register your claim to a copyright in a work with the U.S. Copyright Office, you are making a public record. All the information you provide on your copyright registration is available to the public and will be available on the Internet.

Two attorneys sued a legal databases for copyright infringement:

if a person registers his work with the U.S. Copyright Office, that person has to send a copy of his work to the Library of Congress, where it will be made publicly available for everyone to see.

According to Twitter, you own your tweets (although, it might be the case that they have a license to use or allow others to reuse your work indefinitely).

  1. Your Rights - You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). [...]

In all such cases, the Terms shall terminate, including, without limitation, your license to use the Services, except that the following sections shall continue to apply: 4, 5, [...]

The exemptions for libraries and archives don't seem to exempt the LOC.

Has the LOC violated copyright by not obtaining permission from Tweeters to reproduce their tweets?

(Note: I am aware that not every tweet is subject to copyright. Statements of fact, short phrases, procedures. It is difficult to believe that of the billions of tweets that none are protected. Size (140 characters) may lead you to think that tweets could not be covered, but what if you wrote a book in 140 byte increments? Additionally the Terms of Service from Twitter may have changed (version 1 did not include the license/sublicense language), so it is possible that their license (and sub licenses) to your work may not have been in place for some of the first tweets.

closed as off-topic by Fizz, JJJ, bytebuster, Alexei, theresawalrus Apr 24 at 20:23

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about governments, policies and political processes within the scope defined in the help center." – Fizz, JJJ, bytebuster, Alexei, theresawalrus
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    The exemptions for libraries and archives don't seem to exempt the LOC. - Why wouldn't they? They are both a library and an archive. – SoylentGray Mar 1 '13 at 18:20
  • @Chad, they have to obtain a copy legally first. This would normally be done by the copyright holder registering the work. In lieu of that, "Subsection (e) allows the reproduction and distribution of an ‘‘entire work, or . . . a substantial part of it’’ if the library or archives first determines, ‘‘on the basis of a reasonable investigation,’’ that ‘‘a copy or phonorecord of the work cannot be obtained at a fair price." Did the LOC contact twits to see what fair price they would accept? – user1873 Mar 1 '13 at 19:11
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    @user1873 Isn't something like accessing the Twitter page containing the tweet “obtaining a copy legally”? If it is, why would downloading the whole database be any different? – svick Mar 2 '13 at 22:01
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    It's often cheaper to attain a physical copy then to make your own copy. With digital content, not so much. – user1530 Mar 7 '13 at 21:53
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    "if a person registers his work with the U.S. Copyright Office, that person has to send a copy of his work to the Library of Congress, where it will be made publicly available for everyone to see." Really? What about Windows? – Anixx Oct 3 '13 at 4:16
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Copyright exists as soon as the item is created (Berne Convention), which the United States ratified on March 1, 1989

That said, Twitter changed its privacy rules on June 8, 2010 to let you know that everything was public, and searchable.
Their privacy agreement on June 23, 2011 advised you that some things could be made private through Twitter settings
Their current privacy agreement, effective: May 17, 2012 advises that the United States Library of Congress is one of the users/services that is given access to your data via SMS and their APIs

Now we come to the critical part of the agreement:
The terms of service indicate that while you hold copyright, they have a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).
{Which means that whatever you put on Twitter, they have the right to do what they want with it and not pay you anything, and if someone uses their APIs to access the information, then that person/entity has the right to do with it whatever they want, also without any compensation due to you.}

  • but for people who quit Twitter prior to the TOS changes, would copying their tweets be a copyright violation? – user1873 Mar 7 '13 at 20:24
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    if you use the site after they change the TOS, you are assumed to have accepted them. even the original TOS has the statement: We reserve the right to alter these Terms of Use at any time – SeanC Mar 7 '13 at 21:52
  • @user1873 They would have had to leave the site and delete their content from it. By leaving the content up they are still "users" and bound by current Terms of Use. – Mike Apr 24 at 23:04

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