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January 16, 2013

US judge rules news agencies improperly used Twitter photos

AFP and The Washington Post used Daniel Morel's photos posted on Twitter, snapped after Haiti earthquake in January 2010

By CBR Staff Writer

A US judge has ruled that news agencies cannot publish Twitter photographs without consent from the photographer, as the photos are protected by copyright.

The US District Judge Alison Nathan ruled that two news agencies, AFP and The Washington Post infringed on the copyrights of photographer Daniel Morel by using photos taken by him after the Haiti earthquake in January 2010.

During the hearing, AFP argued that once the photos appeared on Twitter they were freely accessible. However, the judge said that Twitter’s terms of service does not provide news agencies with a license to publish images without seeking permission from the photographer.

The judge also partially granted Morel’s motion, which has allowed him to recover some damages from AFP and Getty for distributing the images.

The case, which began in 2010, gathered interest as it is the first to address the use of images on social media sites by third parties for commercial intentions.

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