Twitter photos require permission to use according to a U.S. District Judge. The ruling came about in a case involving a photographer whose photos were used improperly by the Agence France-Presse (AFP) and The Washington Post back in 2010.
Professional photographer Daniel Morel was on the scene in Haiti after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck in 2010. Daniel took many photos of the aftermath and posted them to Twitter at which time Agence France-Presse saw the Twitter photos and captured them. The AFP then distributed several of Daniel’s images to Getty Images. The Washington Post, being a client of Getty Images, published four of the images on its website.
The AFP claimed that since the photos were posted publicly, it gave them the full right to use the photos. However, the judge ruled that Twitter’s Terms of Service protect user’s photos and require permission in order to be used or distributed off-site.
Developers utilizing Twitter’s API also have rights to their own content under this clause:
You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to provide, promote, and improve the Services and to make Content submitted to or through the Services available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use.
News outlets are excluded from this clause in the situation of selling or licensing other user’s Twitter photos, the judge ruled.