Twitter: Copyright and Etiquette

While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what you do – (or don’t) – post on Twitter, I think it would be a reasonable point of etiquette not to modify something someone has posted to suit your own view, and infer that the original person is responsible for the comment.

I struck a situation like this last night. It related to the ongoing drama involved with the resolution to who will govern Australia in minority, after the election this Saturday passed resulted in a hung parliament.

Mark Newton, a champion of the plight to de-rail the mandatory internet filtering plan for Australia – (which now appears to have succeeded) – made a comment regarding Greens Senator Scott Ludlam being a good choice to become Communications Minister in whatever form of parliament is negotiated into existence. Here is Mark’s tweet:

I completely agree with the thought, and feel that Senator Ludlam would be an excellent choice, given the foresight and level-headed thinking he has shown in this arena. I posted back to Mark in agreement with his sentinment here:

Sometime later, I noticed a “mention” of my twitter account against the following tweet:

As you can see, my previous tweet had been modified to promote one of those stupid – (yet often humourous) – Twitter accounts created to take the piss out of our politicians. A noble cause maybe, but trying to suggest that it was a comment that I had made, I find annoying.

I’m not pissed off, and there’s certainly nothing much I can do about it, even if I wanted to, but I thought it an interesting case of incorrect Twitter etiquette. Anyone reading the third tweet could be excused for thinking that the comment came from me, and in someway I endorse this particular Twitter account – which because I have nothing to do with it, I do not.

It raises the issue of who owns your tweets, and whether they can ultimately be “copyrighted”. The following article discusses that point rather well.

In the end, it raises questions that are difficult to answer in this “etiquette” situation. I don’t care that the person “liked” my tweet enough to reuse it – but would rather they take my name off it if they are going to modify it to suit their own ends.

That’s all.

  • Yea I too would call that BAD Etiquette but what about hashtags? I have on one or two occasions, especially with website tweets, added a Hash in front of a word so that it will hit a wider audience.

    Personally I see no harm in Hashtags as it isn’t necessarily ‘endorsing’ something/someone as adding a mention of a twitter account

  • Yeah – I agree there too…like I said, it doesn’t “piss me off” so much…just that it isn’t the “right thing” to do…

  • I have to admit that I have modified a word in 1 or 2 retweets just for fun. It’s childish really. It’s worth thinking about if it’s ‘the right thing to do’. Oh god I sound like Stephen Conroy. 😛
    Anyway, I think it’s good to discuss things like this, just to get people thinking.