Two bits of twitter news, which one is bigger?

Posted over at Techrunch, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo says perhaps as soon as the end of year, we'll be able to download all of our tweets in a nifty archive that has engineers at the company freaking out at the amount of work it will take in order to make that happen.

Mostly because, you know, Twitter is a busy place, and there are a whole bunch of facts and figures to prove this. Like every .0003 seconds eleventy bazillion tweets go out there, and those are just the ones about food and cats. Factoring in tweets about Boardwalk Empire, Food geek Alton Brown using post-it notes to answer followers, Celebrity chef/celebrity groupie Mario Batali answering every last person who tweets him, and finally Anderson Cooper being a dick to his followers when he's not reporting the news, then the number is more like eleventyjillion bazillion.

Where was I? Oh yeah-- Back when Facebook Timeline was forced upon us, the only upside I saw to it was the easy ability to delete all my old dumb status updates from 2007. In this case, why on Earth would I want an archive of my Tweets?

Would a brand want an archive of its tweets? Maybe so, if they can see when they've done something right, as in closing a sale, rather than just talk to people. They can also pinpoint the exact moment it all went horribly wrong, when some idiot made an off-color joke or said something dumb at the wrong account or a celebrity makes a crude joke at an inappropriate time.

I think the bigger Twitter news is that earlier this month it made changes to its Copyright and DMCA Policy. What does this mean exactly? You mean my tweets are protected? And if someone retweets I can get upset and fire off a cease and desist? No, silly. Although that would be really fun. That would be taking trolling to a whole new level.

This from Chilling Effects will explain it:

You may be wondering, as I was when I first heard about this, how it would be possible to infringe copyright in 140 characters. Surely such a small snippet of text is fair use? And isn't Twitter all about the retweet? The answer is that Twitter clearly does not expect literal infringement, via copying, by the text of tweets. Rather, infringement will take place through links or attached media. To wit:

'the unauthorized use of a copyrighted image as an profile photo, header photo, or background, allegations concerning the unauthorized use of a copyrighted image uploaded through our photo hosting service, or Tweets containing links to allegedly infringing materials.'

As you see from the tweet below from one of Twitters legal dept, they're calling it #transparency. On another, they are covering their asses in the event they end up being guilty by association (knowingly or otherwise) like google.

It's also a nice way of educating the endless stream of people who just don't understand copyright law. If I'm sharing something I don't own the rights to, like music, or posting a photo of art I didn't create, there's a good chance Twitter could end up a liable as yours truly. That's why they deal with so many take down notices from people to block or remove tweets.

By the way, what has a lot of people's panties in a bunch is this bit:

Twitter’s response to notices of alleged copyright infringement may include the removal or restriction of access to allegedly infringing material. If we remove or restrict access to user content in response to a notice of alleged infringement, Twitter will make a good faith effort to contact the affected account holder with information concerning the removal or restriction of access, including a copy of the takedown notice, along with instructions for filing a counter-notification.

They're all rawr rawr censorship.

Again this is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of what is yours and what isn't, and I realize the more I repeat this the more I sound like a kindergarden teacher at his wit's end, but jeez louise people how freaking hard is this to understand? You don't own the keys. You don't own the kingdom.

In an effort to try and explain this in a less snarky way, Twitter even helpfully provides links to get more information, from places like and Chilling Effects.

*Sniff* We're very upset our friends at The Trichordist weren't included in the list.

By the way, under the DMCA rules, according to Chilling Effects "It's worth noting that under the DMCA, a complainant does not need to prove to Twitter that copyright has been violated, or even that they hold a valid copyright in the material in question."

No wonder people balk at hearing this stuff. We have the free culture people, smashing and grabbing everything they can devaluing all kinds of media (including advertising) on one hand, and we have the DMCA creating a virtual blizzard of cease and desists in an effort to preserve copyright-- which, as I think I might have said a coupla times now is their legal right.

It all adds up to one giant Kafka nightmare, either way.

By the way, every cease and desist notice Twitter receives gets archived at Chilling Effects. I'd love to see those numbers.

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