Photojournalist Wins $1.2 Million in Twitter Copyright Case

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Twitter has become one of the most important mediums for disseminating information in times of crisis. From school shootings to natural disasters, people want up to date information. And sadly, events like this are the bread and butter of the 24-hour news cycle.

Twitter seems much faster, if a little less accurate, than CNN and other networks that specialize in breaking news. When an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, killing 250,000 people, news agencies were clamouring for pictures and footage. Agence France-Presse found images taken by photojournalist Daniel Morel through an unattributed retweet, and passed them to Getty images.

The images then found their way onto television networks and into newspapers and on Friday, November 11, 2013, Morel was awarded $1.2 million by a federal judge in one of first cases of social media copyright infringement to appear before the courts.

Morel’s lawyer, argued that this was a willful violation of copyright. US District Judge Alison Nathan had already ruled in January that both companies were liable for copyright infringement, and last week the maximum penalty was imposed.

Initially AFP filed a lawsuit in search of a declaration that its actions did not qualify as copyright infringement; based on the results of this case, the courts didn’t agree.

In an era where 24 hour news has become a minute by minute breakdown of every excruciating detail, the issue of copyright attribution has felt rather murky. This decision has brought the issue into sparkling clarity. As much as speed is of the essence in modern reporting, old school research and image attribution is still important.

Image credit:  opensourceway

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