Boston, MA asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Massachusetts

Q: If someone takes a screenshot of my tweet and shares it without my consent, is that a copyright violation?

Someone took a screenshot of something I said on twitter and removed the context to make me look like a sexual predator. I consider this to be potentially libelous and/or slanderous. Do I own the copyright of the tweet and if so, is there anything that can be done about it?

1 Lawyer Answer
Steve Charles Vondran
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  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • San Francisco, CA

A: Good question. Generally speaking, a tweet is not typically copyrightable as it usually contains just a short phrase with a limited amount of characters and according to the United States Copyright Office ("USCO") this can be considered de minimus as far as creativity is concerned. Now, I say never say never, and if it sufficiently creative enough, perhaps there is a chance it could be registered as a copyright, or enforced as a copyright even if you do not register it. Note that there is a copyright small claims board ("CCB") opening in Washington D.C. in July of 2022 with claims up to 30. You can register your copyright at the time of filing the action. At any rate, generally speaking, I would say there is not much recourse. If you believe there might be enough creative content at issue, discuss it with your copyright counsel. That being said, if there is a photo in your tweet, the photo can be subject to copyright and thus lead to an infringement action (look up the Tom Brady Twitter photo case). Best of luck and see you at the top!! Attorney Steve®

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