Are tweets protected by copyright law?

As society advances and people find new ways of expressing themselves, laws protecting their rights must change as well. However, it is well-known that changes in laws do not always happen quickly. One example of this is copyright law, which struggles to keep up with creativity expressed through technology. Users of social media in New York and across the country may wonder how much of what they post is protected from copyright infringement.

So far, no law exists to allow a user of the social media platform Twitter to register a tweet for copyright protection. In fact, copyright law states that short phrases like slogans cannot receive such protection from the U.S. Copyright Office. Tweets, originally 140 characters, are now as long as 280 characters. However, it is not always the length of the text that qualifies or disqualifies a piece of writing for protection.

To obtain copyright eligibility, a written work must be an original creative piece in a fixed medium. It is possible that at some future time, a court may look upon an original 280-character tweet as fulfilling the requirements for copyright registration. At this time, however, a writer may settle for seeking trademark protection, particularly if the tweet is more of a slogan. It is also possible that someone gathering a collection of his or her original tweets may be able to seek copyright protection.

There is no question that the nuances of copyright law can have great significance to someone in New York who is concerned about others plagiarizing a unique endeavor for their own purposes. Since there are some elements of the laws that can have subjective interpretation, it is important for someone in this situation to seek legal assistance. An intellectual property attorney can provide a better understanding of how the laws apply to any specific case.

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