Saturday, April 04, 2009

Are Mark Cuban's tweets subject to "fair use"? It all comes from an NBA game and a ref's call


Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stirred up some IP law controversy, by accident, after he was fined $25000 by the NBA for complaining about referees on his twitter feed on a Mavericks-Nuggets game. The controversy came about when Cuban claimed that others don’t have the right to republish his tweets.

True, short as they are, in principle tweets are protected by copyright law. But since Cuban’s tweets are not his principal source of income or even public image, requoting them noncommercially is probably fair use.

Ryan Corazza has an article on the Cuban affair on ESPN (title: "Does Mark Cuban Have a Case?: Reporting from the Jock-o-sphere: Mark Cuban says his Tweets are copyrighted. He's both right and wrong"), an odd place to find an article on copyright or other intellectual property law, here. (Or maybe not; look at how consistely MLB, NBA and NFL guard their content and trademarks.)

Mark Cuban has his own weblog which (as of April 3) has a post “Some Twitter Thoughts.”

Cuban is also known for his ownership (with others) of HDNet, 2929 Entertainment and Magnolia Pictures, connected to the Landmark Theater chain that specializes in independent film exhibition.

In the past his blog has promoted his films, such as a post "Go see 'Bubble'" in 2006, when he experimented with simultaneous theatrical and DVD release of a controversial film.

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