Is Disney Trying to Steal Data from Twitter?

  • AUTHOR: isbah
  • POSTED ON: April 30, 2020

On Monday, Disney announced that it will be releasing all nine films of the Star Wars Saga on Disney Plus on May 4th. To mark the occasion, the company asked the fans to share their favorite memory related to Star Wars and it might be featured “somewhere special”. However, in a follow-up tweet, it suggested that the content posted with #MayThe4th could be used by Disney however they want.

Source: The Verge

A document outlining Disney’s terms of use was attached and the details of the agreement were explained in 6500 words. In the end, the site said, “By sharing your message with us using #MayThe4th, you agree to our use of the message and your account name in all media and our terms of use here.”

Disney is known among the consumers for its shady copyright policies but even by those standards, the statement made little sense. Many Twitter users pointed out that Disney was claiming everyone’s tweets with #MayThe4th as its own and the company clearly wants to use the content for free.

“If you just take that second tweet by itself, it looks like anyone who’s using the May the 4th hashtag is agreeing to these terms of use,” says intellectual property lawyer Tara Aaron, one of several legal experts who tweeted about the case.

Source: Twitter

If you are confused as to why legal experts are getting involved in this, you should know that companies cannot claim content from private users as their own. You can not read a contract, but you have to know it exists for it to apply to you. So it wouldn’t work that way,” says Aaron.

If Disney owned Twitter, a deal that almost happened, then it would have the authority to make the users sign any such agreement. However, it operates as an outside party on the social media site and therefore, cannot use any content from Twitter.

Source: Twitter

The Disney Plus account tweeted again after a few hours later, significantly narrowing down its claim. “The above legal language applies ONLY to replies to this tweet using #MayThe4th and mentioning @DisneyPlus,” it said.

By the looks of it, we do not think that this was the original intent of the company because it was unclear in the tweets that mention terms of use. “I think they absolutely can do that,” says Aaron. “You might not read them, but you had to have read that entire tweet in order to know what to do,” she says. “I think a court might see a use of that hashtag and the mentioning of Disney Plus as evidence of your assent to that contract, which you had in front of you and had the opportunity to read.

So with further tweets, Disney tried to clarify its position but only ended up complicating the matter more. Fans are now reluctant to tweet anything with #MayThe4th and the engagement on the reply thread that mentioned terms of use has also dropped considerably.

Updated April 30, 2020
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