It’s a good thing SOPA didn’t pass, or else over 4,000 Twitter users would be facing some serious legal troubles… and, in all likelihood, so would Twitter itself.
According to the Chilling Effects website, there have been 4411 copyright infringement claims made in relation to a tweet or the content shared therein.
Many of the complaints appear to cite tweets that link to content on websites like PirateBay.org, known for hosting downloadable, copyrighted files. Or, as the legal jargon in these copyright claims goes:
“The Tweet links to another website where the infringing material is made available.”
Simply by linking to a site where copyrighted material is available, these 4000-odd users have landed themselves on the radar of folks like Universal Music Group, Magnolia Pictures, and Paramount, as well as individual recording artists and other creative types.
Twitter received these 4411 copyright infringement claims in 2011, but thankfully – in part because SOPA was derailed – Twitter itself could not be held responsible for the “links to another website where the infringing material is made available.”
As Twitter is really just a vehicle for its users to send information, it would be detrimental to free speech to claim Twitter is responsible for this information (although some governments will no doubt take advantage of Twitter’s new stance on censorship in the coming weeks and claim just that).
Still, these 4411 claims are just the tip of the iceberg. As more people flock to Twitter and use it to share songs they love, tweet about movies and retweet links faster than an earthquake ripples through the ground, you can bet those holding the licence to creative material will be slapping even more cease and desists on Twitter and its users.