Is my tweet protected by copyright?

Glenn W. Peterson

Californians have seen it happen over and over. Someone tweets something on Twitter and suddenly it goes viral and everyone has seen it. You may have even seen instances where the same tweet is attributed to two different people. This may bring up the question of whether tweets are protected by copyright. If a tweet is a creative, published piece, it seems to fall under copyright protection. However, as it tends to go, things are not always that simple.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, whether a tweet has copyright protection depends mostly on the situation. To be protected, a piece must meet certain criteria, which many tweets do not. Mainly, the reason for this is they are not original enough. Many tweets are simple restatements of old adages, ideas or quotes from others. However, there is even disagreement about this. Sometimes tweets are made in groups, and the group may qualify for protection.

If a tweet qualifies for protection, itis still difficult to protect. Any protection your tweet may have will not really be strong if you do not register your copyright. Even then, it may be tough to enforce it. The internet makes sharing things very easy.

The real lesson here is that copyright laws need to be reviewed and updated so they extend protection to those pieces created on the internet. Until laws catch up with technology, the challenges to protect a copyrighted tweet will exist. The bottom line is your tweet may be protected but even with protection, you may not really have a way to stop others from using your idea. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.