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Where does Twitpic row leave journalists?

Newspapers, broadcasters and websites are unable to publish Twitpic photos without permission from the person who owns the copyright, according to a media law specialist.

And the copyright is owned by the person who took and uploaded the photo, the founder of Twitpic, a service which allows users to append a photo or video to a tweet, has confirmed in the company’s blog.

“From what I’ve heard of the terms they are describing I don’t think that journalists can use the pictures people have uploaded to Twitpic and print or broadcast them,” media law consultant David Banks told Journalism.co.uk.

The question of the copyright of Twitpics has been answered this week and founder of Twitpic Noah Everett has apologised to users after it faced a barrage of criticism when it changed its terms leading many users to understand that Twitpic would have the right to sell users’ photos.

Twitpic users ditched their accounts in their droves in favour of alternatives, like this (really nice) option, Imgur.

“To clarify our ToS regarding ownership, you the user retain all copyrights to your photos and videos, it’s your content,” Everett said on the blog.

However, by signing up to use Twitpic you agree to allow the company to distribute your images to its partners, which include celebrity photo agency WENN.

Twitpic has said that it had changed its terms to prevent the media publishing and broadcasting photographs of newsworthy events – like this Twitpic of the Hudson river plane crash – without the permission.

Writing on the Twitpic blog, founder Noah Everett said:

Our terms state by uploading content to Twitpic you allow us to distribute that content on twitpic.com and our affiliated partners. This is standard among most user-generated content sites (including Twitter). If you delete a photo or video from Twitpic, that content is no longer viewable.

Twitpic’s full terms of service are at this link.

The BBC editorial guidelines on the use of photographs from social media sites are at this link.

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