Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Copyright In the Age of Social Networking

Social networking makes it so easy to share posts, videos, pictures and links. It must be difficult for our ancestors to imagine how free we are to say whatever we want and whenever we want in the Internet. However, many questions abound regarding this powerful development. How does the law protect our almost limitless ability to share? How do we properly share information? Does it matter where it comes from? Is Internet stuff public property?
If you watched the last season’s NBA playoffs, you must have heard the news about Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban getting fined for tweeting about lousy officiating. Then, the debate about copyright and tweeting was triggered when NBA republished his Twitter feed without his permission.
Technically, tweets are copyrightable. In reality? Not really. First, the 140-character limit makes it hard to argue sufficient creativity for copyright protection. Second, most tweets are about facts, and facts are not copyrightable. While facts can be delivered with humor, originality hardly has anything to do with it. But, it really depends on the tweet in question which can be subjected to quantitative and qualitative analysis.
In other social networking sites such as Facebook, is it enough that a posted video or link links back to the original site? Is it enough to put HT or hat tip or even a mere thank you to acknowledge a source in a post? More and more questions are being asked, challenging our legislators to balance out copyright protection and freedom of speech.

James Anthony Mina #2

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