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I am writing a book which tells the story of a year in a particular niche. I want to include some tweets in the book as images like you see embedded in web pages all the time. Do I need to ask for permission to do so, is there any kind of copyright issue? They will be part of the book and appear in the context of the timeline I am working through in the narrative.

  • This question might be better over at law.stackexchange.com. I do notice that every page of Twitter says "© 2018 Twitter" somewhere on it. – Todd Wilcox May 18 '18 at 22:33
  • @ToddWilcox They probably can't claim copyright on user content, though (but it wouldn't entirely surprise me if they try). I'm more familiar with Stack Exchange, but SE specifically doesn't claim ownership on user content; they do however have in their terms of service the granting of a non-revocable license to it. – a CVn May 19 '18 at 8:19
  • Rob; it would depend on the details, but I suspect that this question isn't only about the tweets, but that you'd also be including elements of the design of the page where the tweets are viewed. That could almost certainly be copyrighted; I don't know if fair use would extent to such use if you were challenged in court. Does it absolutely have to be Twitter exactly? Can't you invent a similar enough to be recognizable service that serves the same purpose but doesn't use precisely Twitter's name and UI elements? – a CVn May 19 '18 at 8:22
  • I'd be quite happy just to put the Tweet text in, like Person A tweeted "Blah blah blah". It doesn't have to look like a tweet. – Rob Sedgwick May 19 '18 at 19:01
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I would suggest using a non-descriptive social site, which may work as stand in for the top social networks as needed.

Anyway, on your question...


On using real tweets

The author of the messages is the author of the messages and has all the rights any other author would have (unless they took them from somewhere else, in which case they are not the authors).

Then how can Twitter publish and distribute the tweets? When you sign up for a Twitter account you accept their terms of service, in which you grant Twitter a license that allows them to do that. However, by doing this, people license their messages to Twitter, not to you. Review Twitter Terms of Service (look under numeral 3. "Contents of the Service", title "Your Rights and Grant of Rights in the Content").

This means that - unless the author has said otherwise - you do not have a license to what they tweet.

In addition, of course, Twitter presents the tweets to you under copyright. Therefore, yes, the tweets are under copyright and you should ask the author for permission to use their work.

You can always have made up messages.


On using Twitter user interface or logos

Just as anything else on the web page, the logos and other interface elements are under copyright (also mentioned in the linked Terms of Service).

Then, how is it possible to embed tweets in other pages or use the Twitter logo? That is allowed as long as it follows Twitter's Developer Agreement. Which I will not summarize here, I will just tell you to pay attention to what it says about "Twitter Marks".

You can contact trademarks‎@twitter‎.com for inquiries.

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