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Twitter Is Making Examples Of People That 'Steal' Tweets

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Have you heard the one about the... oh you have? Then probably best not share it around on Twitter.

The social media network has started deleting copied tweets on copyright grounds usually preserved for posting pinched videos, images or linking to websites that are illegally hosting copyrighted material.

The Verge first noticed this subtle shift in Twitter's legal stance after the account @PlagiarismBad flagged up the following string of copyright infringements:

What this string of Tweets shows is that Twitter user @runolgarun, a freelance writer from Los Angeles, first shared her wit-filled observation with the masses: "saw someone spill their high end juice cleanse all over the sidewalk and now I know god is on my side". Other accounts, including @Hellbergsdoge and @crazyaction14 then copied the joke word for word - allowing @runolgarun to file a copyright infringment request using Twitter's Digital Millennium Copyright Act form.

As a site that hosts user generated content and an abundance of quickly-moving material, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows Twitter to act as a "safe harbor" from copyright claims - so long as they intervene and remove any Tweets that infringe on copyright laws when requested. 

A team at Twitter then process these requests, removing the offending Tweets and replacing them with a message explaining that the copyright holder has reported them. While video content and rich media has often been protected in this way, there's little evidence of the system being used to shut down stolen jokes. 

So - next time you're watching a TV event fueled by Twitter witticism or share a side-splitting observation in 140-characters and notice someone illegally riding on your comedy wave, rest assured you can shut them down in a righteous wave of legal power.

If only we could think up a joke funny enough to steal...

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