In a momentous precedent for Tweet Law, a judge ruled that prosecutors were within their rights to subpoena the deleted tweets of Brooklyn writer Malcolm Harris, one of hundreds of protesters arrested during the Occupy Wall Street march over the Brooklyn Bridge back in October. In a statement, Judge Sciarrino explained the decision:
“The Constitution gives you the right to post, but as numerous people have learned, there are still consequences for your public posts. What you give to the public belongs to the public. What you keep to yourself belongs only to you.”
Sciarrino also added that under the site’s policies, users give Twitter “worldwide, nonexclusive, royalty-free” right to distribute user-generated content as they see fit. Twitter itself was less than cooperative, saying in a statement that the company was “disappointed” with the new ruling,and adding that “Twitter’s terms of service have long made it absolutely clear that its users own their content. We continue to have a steadfast commitment to our users and their rights.”
While this is unfortunate PR for Twitter and definitely unfortunate for Harris’ disorderly conduct case, it’s a little hard to argue against content released into a completely public forum not being available as material in court. In any case, if you have a joke ready about “The Revolution Will Be Tweeted,” feel free to insert it here.