Hey Agence France-Press, Hands Off My Blizzard TwitPics

Thousands of photos of snow, yellow snow, snow-covered bikes, little kids making snow angels, etc. have been uploaded to Twitter through various apps since the start of Snowpocalypse.

While most of these photos are grainy, blurry and over-filtered, there are some time-pressed members of the news profession who might be tempted to grab them for repurposing on some blog. Or for marketing and distributing through a wire service, as Agence France-Presse did with some iconic photos of the Haiti earthquake taken by professional photographer Daniel Morel and uploaded to Twitter with the third-party client TwitPic.

AFP argued in court that Morel gave them license to use his photos by uploading them to Twitter.

Nope, says a judge in New York’s Southern District, TwitPic and Twitter’s terms of use protect copyrighted photos from greedy wire services.

“AFP’s position was a stretch, and it’s nice to have some clarity that uploading content into the Twitter ecosystem does not grant third parties a license to use that content outside the ecosystem,” writes tech attorney Venkat Balasubramani. Subtext: Take your own photos, AFP—isn’t that like, your job?

If you post photos to Twitter and don’t want them repurposed, check the terms of service of the photo-posting app you use. A cursory, non-legalistic look shows Foursquare seems to prohibit all content from being reused; Instagram initially used stock legal language that gave away photographers’ rights, but changed its terms after Instagrammers complained.

  Hey Agence France-Press, Hands Off My Blizzard TwitPics