Monday, March 30th, 2009 at 10:30 am  |  46 responses

Mark Cuban Wonders About His Twitter Rights

by Marcel Mutoni

It took a while, but Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban finally got in trouble with the League about something he wrote on his Twitter page. Cuban was fined $25K for criticizing the refs following a game against the Nuggets on Friday night.

Cubes took the fine in stride – and even joked about it – but what has him concerned are the legal rammifications of his online writings. On his personal blog, he asks his readers for clarification:

Here is a question for all you legal scholars out there. Is a tweet copyrightable? Is a tweet copyrighted by default when its published ? Can there possibly be a fair use exception for something that is only 140 characters or less?

I got to thinking about this when I tweeted about an NBA game. I tweeted to the people who follow me. While I never asked that they not distribute it to other tweeters, i did not give anyone permission to republish my tweets in a commercial newspaper, magazine or website.

So when an ESPN.com or any other outlet republishes a tweet, have they violated copyright law? Is twittering the process of publishing in 140 characters or less, or is it a private communications to those that follow you ? Even if you dont block outsiders from seeing it?

I’ll leave it to the legally-minded among you guys to figure the answer to Cuban’s question; I just hope Cuban takes this seriously and eventually forces a meeting with a bewildered David Stern to discuss Tweeting.

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  • http://slamonline.com/ Justin Walsh

    twitter is a mess for some NBA people (Charlie V, the fake stern haha, Mark Cuban)

  • http://www.mynameinorange.blogspot.com Hisham


  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Tweeting is NOT copyrightable. All the tweets belongs to Twitter. This is not that hard to comprehend. Cuban’s just looking for an angle that’s not there.

  • http://thesportsdiaryonline.blogspot.com Roy

    Co-sign @ Justin Walsh. I didn’t know “David Stern” had a twitter account. hahahaha!!! :D

  • jay

    Maybe he should ask magic. I mean, he saw crazy angles!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Has there been a public figure yet who has used twitter and not embarrassed themselves with it? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    Internet is public domain, internet is public domain, internet is public domain, intern…

  • http://www.another48minutes.blogspot.com Gerard Himself

    thank you farmer Jones.

  • nate james

    wow tweeting is so lame. do nba players have nothing better to do? honestly. wtf is mark cuban doing tweeting anyways?
    (probably mav games are boring to watch)

  • Fred34

    New headline – Tweet Accountability: Friend or Foe? …What a friggin lame joke. Can we end the twitterscape nonsense already?

  • http://theghostofroyhobbs.blogspot.com Mo Charlo

    Pete Carroll hasn’t looked stupid on twitter yet. His are just motivational.

  • http://theghostofroyhobbs.blogspot.com Mo Charlo

    Lang Whitaker hasn’t embarrassed himself on Twitter.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Twittering wouldn’t be so bad if it had a cooler name. You can’t sound manly when you say “I just twittered” or “Did you read my tweet?” C’mon now. If that sh*t was called This Is What The Fu*k I’m Doing Right Now, it could get a pass.

  • http://theghostofroyhobbs.blogspot.com Mo Charlo

    Eboy, did you see where Steven Colbert said that he has “twatted” on the Today show?

  • http://slamonline.com/ Justin Walsh

    for the record, 90% of cuban’s tweets are about the financial world, his HDNET company, and how to get out of the recession, so the majority of the time his tweets are actually very worthwhile

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    That pic is disturbing.

  • Fred34

    Am I the only one so old that hearing “Twit” makes me think of one of the best Monty Python bits of all time?

  • Fred34

    Monty Python Upperclass Twit of the Year – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSqkdcT25ss

  • Michael

    the only thing lamer than facebook status upadates would be an entire application devoted to them – which twitter appears to be

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Nice find, Fred.

  • http://where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com B. Long

    For some one who has banned bloggers from his locker rooms he sure is worried about everyone’s online rights. Ass.

  • http://theghostofroyhobbs.blogspot.com Mo Charlo

    you’re old, jones

  • Tuomas

    Thanks Fred, it had been too long since I saw that sketch. Should I be worried about how relevant it still is, especially when twittering and NBA are discussed? I’m thinking probably.

  • http://double-technical.blogspot.com Zee!

    Twitter got old real quick once everyone and their momma decided to get an account. You can bet Mike Vick’s agent is gonna get him one the minute he gets cell phone access.

  • vtrobot

    As much as twitting and tweeting and twatting bothers me, it doesn’t bother me as much as NBA refereeing. Seriously, what was up with that lack of a foul call in the backcourt when the Spurs were intentionally fouling CP3 last night? Do there need to be more refs on the court? Why are so many things more clear to me in my living room than they are to the officials standing on the court. This is very bad. Not looking forward to the wrong calls, no-calls, and inconsistent calls in the Playoffs.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    Boy E, I’m a little disappointed with your answer on the copyright matter.
    Was hoping you could clarify or come back on your answer which I think is faulty. It’s not an obvious matter since most laws on digital data/content aren’t even written yet. Cubes might be the one to take this to a higher court to establish precedent. What do you think?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I hope people repeat and re-tweet and publish my Twitterings. Then again, I’m not a loose cannon billionaire.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    And since ANYONE on there can follow you unless you set your ish to private, and signing up for Twitter is both simple and free, I don’t think he has a legal leg to stand on.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    Twitter is too new for anyone to fully have considered the full extent of legal ramifications. I am not saying I know the answer but the ish is extremely complex. If one were to write letters that someone else got a hold on and decided to publish there would be a lawsuit following.
    If I decided to publish a coffee table book with Shaq’s best tweets, he would sue me unless there’s a usage agreement. Internet being public domain has nothing to do with ownership of content. Mark’s question in my opinion is very valid. This might be what has him smiling about the whole thing.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Dutch……..there is a user agreement you enter into once you sign up for a Twitter account, Facebook, Myspace….blah, blah, blah. Everything (very clearly in most cases) is outlined there in pretty font for all the world too read. The problem……how many people read the user agreements through and through….if ever? I’m sorry you were dissapointed in my answer. If he was smart…..oh wait….he’s a megagenuis….he would just have someone develop another Mark Cuban@ from wherever he built his account and then claimed someone hacked his sh*t and be done with it. His problem is…..he always has something to say.

  • Jacob

    Mark Cuban looks like Rosie O’Donnell in his picture

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    ^^ He’s totally going to sue you for saying that.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    I don’t think it’s a question of twitter content – I think it’s a question of criticizing the organization you’re in. People lose their jobs for blogging about their companies, and I know that blogging about sensitive information is a definite no-no in the military. But Cuban isn’t an employee in the NBA, he’s part of the *ownership*.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Again, this is another case of Stern throwing out a knee-jerk fine at the slightest criticism of his referees, without even examining whether the criticism holds weight. I’m getting sick of this. Didn’t he fine Doc Rivers just a fortnight ago for criticizing a ref – and then fine the ref in question right after?

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    E…. the user agreement says that you are responsible for your content. It also says that published content falls under federal copyright law. So if one is to re-use it without permission that would mean violating copyright law. Twitter does however say this “We encourage users to contribute their creations to the public domain or consider progressive licensing terms.” solely to protect their own interest and to encourage more users to come on board. This whole twitter thing is a pretty open agreement cruising for lawsuits. I think his question is ” should I copyright everything I tweet”, that way I might get my 25K back from ESPN through litigation. He does have a big mouth, and you get props for proposing the cover-up lie. All kidding aside, this is an interesting topic that still resides in a gray zone. I think it’s something that will soon get completely out of hand too. I hope it will so it will disappear altogether.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    All I know is if I didn’t want something being widely disseminated, I sure as hell wouldn’t Twitter it. And I only have 240-odd followers, not however the hell many Cubes has.

  • Bill Loving

    Copyright exists when there is fixation of a minimal amount of creativity in tangible form.
    A twitter is likely to be sufficiently creative to merit copyrightability. Now, who has the copyright is subject to agreements and contractual arrangements. You can, through a writing, transfer your copyright to someone else.

  • http://www.Slamonline.com CP34MVP

    Twitter, Shall we ask Shaq? Wasnt he in law..

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    LMFAO @ Jacob. That had me laughing almost as loud as when Jukai said Tony Parker was second in the MVP race!

  • http://www.nba.com/suns Dacre

    ^^^ I thought Jukai was refering to the MOST VALUABLE PARKER and with Candace coming in first, surely Tony was second….

    I don’t have a tweeter, I’ve never read one and I feel I am a better person for it.

  • ciroqobama

    Twitter is retarded

  • donlaker

    twitter rhymes with john ritter(3′s company)

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Heh, good one Dacre. Jukai was too stupid to come up with as good of an excuse as that. What a dumb@ss, huh?

  • German Reignman

    I announce Zee! `s post at 2:48 as candidate for “Comment of the Year” …. putting Michael Vick and “cell phone access” in the same sentence is pure genius…

  • data187

    the best tweeter joke was from colbert..
    when asked if he uses tweeter, he replied with yes, i’ve twatted.

  • http://www.durgle.com interaction design

    Dutch, Twitter is not new at all.

    I have known about it since Jan 2007 (had an account since March of ’07), and the site launched in early 2006.

    But im pretty sure that the terms & conditions have a section about everything being under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0… not positive, I know identi.ca uses that license though and they’re pretty much a twitter clone.