Twitter now deletes copyright infringing tweets too
Twitter is now deleting unattributed jokes posted in tweets - has DMCA copyright infringement law gone a step too far?Reuters

Have you recently heard or read a joke you really like, and you'd like to share with your Twitter followers? Well make sure you credit it, otherwise Twitter might delete it for copyright infringement.

Twitter has a web form that allows anyone to report copyright infringement. Usually, people use the form to report embedded images or videos that have been used without their permission, as well as links to websites hosting pirated movies, TV shows, music or software.

However, it seems that infringing texts are now also a problem. On 23 July, at least five tweets of a joke made by Los Angeles-based freelance writer Olga Lexell were deleted from Twitter.

The joke read: "Saw someone spill their high end juice cleanse all over the sidewalk and now I know god is on my side."

Writer asked Twitter to remove tweets of her joke

Lexell has now made her Twitter account private, but in a tweet seen by the Verge on 25 July, she confirmed that she had submitted a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request to Twitter asking for unattributed copies of her joke to be taken down.

Lexell wrote on Twitter: "I simply explained to Twitter that as a freelance writer I make my living writing jokes (and I use some of my tweets to test out jokes in my other writing). I then explained that as such, the jokes are my intellectual property, and that the users in question did not have my permission to repost them without giving me credit."

Lexell also told the Verge that she had previously filed similar takedown requests for other jokes that Twitter had complied with, usually "within a few days" of receiving the request, and that the social media network had never contacted her with follow-up questions before removing flagged tweets.

IBTimes UK has contacted Twitter for comment and is waiting for a response.

Will everything we say one day be subject to infringement?

The question is – how much is too much? People have been telling jokes taken from comedians, newspapers, comics and books for centuries and they haven't been accused of copyright infringement.

Could deleting idle tweets become a new trend, and could we one day be accused of copyright infringement by merely opening our months?

DMCA is increasingly being used by companies and individuals seeking to curb criticism, such as the Sunday Times, which sent The Intercept a DMCA notice over an article written by Glenn Greenwald entitled "The Sunday Times' Snowden Story is Journalism at its Worst — and Filled with Falsehoods", which featured an embedded image of the front cover of the Sunday Times from 13 June 2015.

In another example, an artist called Randy Queen didn't like Tumblr users criticising his paintings of women, so he demanded that the users running the Escher Girls Tumblr account take down all their posts referencing his artwork.

Not only that, but in November 2014, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine reported that terrorists were using DMCA to submit fake copyright infringement requests, demanding YouTube take down all content from a YouTube account critical of Islam called Al-Hayat.