Permission to capture Twitter

This blog has been occasionally concerned with issues surrounding the capture of Tweets, in their capacity as web-based resources which may or may not have value to the Institution as record or archive material. See Brian Kelly’s post of July 2008. The discussions have been based around (a) is it worth doing? And (b) is it technically possible to capture Tweets, and how? This post is concerned with a third issue, (c), do we have permission to do it, since is a third-party hosting service? The same issue in fact, that applies to many Web 2.0 applications which involve members of staff working in the cloud or generally conducting University business outside of the network.

The PANDORA Librarian at the State Library of Queensland has just asked the question about permission. “Do we have a blanket permission for Twitter That is, if we find a Twitter site we want to gather, and we get permission as well from say a politician or whoever has content on that site, can we go ahead and gather?”

The National Library of Australia, who have been involved in a library-centric web archiving programme for many years, replied with the following advice:

“We received advice from Twitter, when asking to archive the Prime Minister’s twitter page, which gives a clear indication that they have no problem with archiving,” said the NLA’s Manager of Web Archiving. “I have also been in contact with another Twitter staffer who also gave permission. So I think it is safe to assume that we may archive selectively from Twitter, depending upon receiving the permission of the Twitteree. However in the case of the PM, we didn’t seek that explicit permission as we have blanket permission, from his Party and the PM’s dept.”

And that advice from confirms this:

“Archiving the Prime Minister’s twitter updates is fine, since he owns the copyright to the messages that he posted. According to our Terms of Service:

Copyright (What’s Yours is Yours)

1. We claim no intellectual property rights over the material you provide to the Twitter service. Your profile and materials uploaded remain yours. You can remove your profile at any time by deleting your account. This will also remove any text and images you have stored in the system.

2. We encourage users to contribute their creations to the public domain or consider progressive licensing terms.

This is potentially a useful little development. It may send archivists in the direction of checking the terms of service of other third-party hosting organisations, such as Google Docs or SlideShare, to establish what’s permissible and what isn’t. If copyright and ownership issues are sidestepped or aren’t even mentioned, this could be a cause for concern.

In the meantime, presumably we must also give credit to our Australian colleague for devising the neologism “Twitteree”.

3 thoughts on “Permission to capture Twitter

  1. David Clay

    It is essential that third party hosting organisations terms of service establish what is and isn’t permissible. Where these services claim no intellectual property rights over a contributors material they should also provide that contributor with tools to specify what they as the content owner will permit. Flickr does this by allowing users to apply creative commons licenses to their photographs and Twitterers can use the TweetCC service to offer their tweets under a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication or other Creative Commons licenses.

  2. Chris Rusbridge

    I checked out Blogger the other day, and it’s clear that I, rather than they, own the IPR on my blog (and I’ve made it CC and tell commenters that their comments will be CC as well). But I don’t know what the case is for other blog services. This turns out to be important for a scenario we’re doing for the BRTF on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access. You can’t preserve if you can’t get “sufficient control”.

    BTW I’m sure the right name for a so-called “Twitteree” is a Twit. I certainly use it of myself (in this context, at least!).

  3. Pingback: Cultural Heritage » Blog Archive » Elsewhere on UKOLN Blogs: May 2009

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