I tweet!! But. Who owns my tweet? Me? Twitter? Everyone?

03Sep12

 The role of Twitter users, who can make their voices heard with only 140 characters but share a wide variety of content via tweeting their opinions, feelings, and links to certain articles and videos, should be appreciated in our understanding of ‘convergence’. On the one hand, Twitter provides a platform for its users to exchange information while on the other hand it is the users that are creating the content, acting as citizen journalists or experts on certain issues. Thus, Twitter users effectively create media content; they are culture creators.

 One important concern is how much ownership Twitter users and other culture creators have in the content they produce. As Deuze (2009) notes

given the complete lack of legal frameworks to protect to co-creating consumer, one cannot escape the observation that all of this does not seem to play into the hands of all stakeholders equally.

 Not only are the people producing the content not profiting directly from it, but their rights over the information they share are nebulous. Hartley (2007, cited in Deuze, 2009) supports articulating legal rights and protections for producing consumers. Problems can be seen in Tweeter’s experiences with disclosure of a user’s deleted tweet. Early in 2012 prosecutors asked Twitter for information about a protestor of Occupy Wall Street, Malcolm Harris. Legal proceedings continued in this way: 1.) Twitter informed Harris about the subpoena, and he filed a motion. 2.) In April the Court denied Harris’ motion and told Twitter to comply with the subpoena. 3.) In May Twitter filed a motion to oppose that order. 4.) In June the court denied Twitter’s motion. Now in August, Twitter appealed that decision and has filed a motion again.

 The end result of this legal battle will be critical to helping us understand how the user’s content, their work on a website (similar to Twitter) is ‘recognized’ by the law. Do they own what they share, or is it the property of the media corporations?  Being able to understand how much control or rights users have over the content they create would allow for an analysis of whether “convergence is really a both top down corporate driven process and a bottom up consumer driver process” as argued by Jenkins (2004) or if, in fact, it is a process where the consumer’s influence is limited.

The full news article can be found at: http://www.cnbc.com/id/48817077

-Muge Fazlioglu

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