Tuesday, April 29, 2014

She Wants to Curate and Embed Tweets on Her Blog

Dear Rich: I'm a freelance content marketer who works with corporate entities. Can I embed tweets in my blog that are curated from various Twitter feeds (not associated with my clients)? Can I embed tweets on blog posts that don't direct anyone to buy any products (via blog copy), yet product shots are located on the same page. If it is illegal, then why can online media outlets embed content on web pages that feature advertising. Isn't that essentially the same situation?
Copying text tweets is unlikely to violate copyright laws. But copying the name or image of a person who wrote the tweet may violate right of publicity laws if you're implying that person endorses a product or service.
Tweet infringement? Legal experts believe that the vast majority -- if not all text tweets --  are too short (and lacking originality) to acquire copyright protection. (This article summarizes the theories). So, aside from potential right of publicity claims, you're free to copy them -- uhh, we mean "curate" them.  That's not to say that copying a tweet can't get you in trouble under copyright law. But you're more likely to get hassled if you tweet infringing pictures or movies, links to infringing content, or if you post a collection of tweets by someone.
What about the right of publicity? Obviously, you can retweet any tweets within the world of Twitter without any problem. But if you post the name or image of a person associated with a tweet in a commercial context apart from Twitter you need to do so in a way that doesn't imply endorsement or association. You might want to look at some right of publicity cases to get an idea of how the law works.
How can they do it? Your situation is distinguishable from a media outlet because your posts are considered commercial  -- that is, you're marketing a client's services or goods,  not reporting information. This may seem like an artificial distinction and the relevant law is not crystal clear ... but that's where things stand at present.

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