Twitter is an increasing source of news and first hand information and images from news worthy events around the world.  However, a recent ruling has ruled that the news outlets Agence France-Presse and The Washington Post infringed on the rights of a photojournalist by using his images posted to Twitter without the correct permission.

It was argued by the Agence France-Presse that posting images to Twitter made them freely available.  However, Twitter's Terms of Service explicitly say that the users retain all rights to the content posted:

"You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services..."

Twitter's TOS goes on to say:

" grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

Tip: This license is you authorizing us to make your Tweets available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same."

AFP argued this gave them the rights to use the image, however the Judge ruled that this only protected re-tweeting.  Re-tweeting does not constitute copyright infringement, however, taking images from a Tweet and using them without permission does.

This ruling is good news for Twitter users, who may rest assured that they retain all copyrights to their images while posting them to the social networking site. It also stresses the importance of reading and understanding a site's terms of service.

What do you think of this ruling? Let us know in the comments!