If I want to use the data on Twitter in my application, what are the restrictions? What user data should I avoid touching?

For example, if I want to collect information from certain type of tweets about users and use this information on my site as profiles for these users in my site, does this require permission from the users first or can I directly go and get the information?

Technically, from anyone with a public account on twitter, we can get data of his/her tweets and create profile information for him/her, but does twitter privacy policy allow this? If you published some tweet on Twitter, am I allowed to take that tweet content and put it in my site (stating that it is written by you) but without asking you for permission?

I found this in the Twitter Terms of Service:

Tip We encourage and permit broad re-use of Content. The Twitter API exists to enable this.

But also found this on the Twitter API Terms:

You may not use Twitter Content or other data collected from end users of your Client to create or maintain a separate status update or social network database or service.

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    Copyright is automatic. When you publish something and that it's clear you wrote it, you have full rights on it and nobody can replicate your content. Maybe Twitter's terms that users accept make things different. – user2567 Sep 25 '11 at 10:08
  • @Pierre303 but if you published some tweet on twitter am i alowed to take that tweet content put it in my site (stating that it is writtern by you) but without asking you for permision ?! – Ali Sep 25 '11 at 10:11
  • @Ali: In general, no. Not unless you obtain a license from Twitter. (You may be able to for specific tweets that are purely factual or otherwise ineligible for copyright protection.) – David Schwartz Sep 25 '11 at 11:19
  • @Pierre303 : any way to make sure of this , i have really nice idea to work on with twitter but it requires to do this kind of thing – Ali Sep 25 '11 at 11:30
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it asks for very specific legal advice that we cannot provide. Please read What types of legal questions are on-topic here? and When is a software licensing question on topic? – durron597 Jul 1 '15 at 21:34

There are a few issues that might come into play here. But, IANAL, so if you want to be very sure, consult a professional:

  1. For a work to qualify for copyright, it usually needs to be sufficiently distinctive, so a tweet may be too short to qualify in most cases
  2. Profile pictures definitely do qualify for copyright, so you'll need to check whether you are allowed to use them (perhaps the user has given permissions through twitter through their terms of service)
  3. Twitter will have terms of service which you will need to comply with
  4. Depending on jurisdiction, the kind of processing you suggest may fall under the personal data protection laws, which restrict what kind of data you can produce, store, process and publish. Note that this can even apply if the data you base this on is fully public.

From the ToS (you should get your lawyer to review this):

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, you 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).

Which means (AFAICT, IANAL, E&OE) that either you enter a sub-licensing agreement with Twitter, or you ask each individual poster whether you may use their content.


As far as i can see public profiles are all public, which means you can use all the information as you want. But another thing to notice here that twitter makes some constrants on reaching the data you are searching for through API's.

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    If that were true, then —for example— all publicly published photos would be kind of public domain too? That's certainly not the case. – Arjan Sep 25 '11 at 10:13
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    -1 For the reason given by Arjan. Unfortunately, this attitude is far too common. – Scott Sep 25 '11 at 10:53
  • Arjan, could you please explain why that is not the case, people call twitter the future of newspapers, can't we say the information that is publicly open to follow is public then? We can use the information as long as we have a reference to it. – LostMohican Sep 26 '11 at 14:24
  • @LostMohican that simply isn't how copyright works. Just because you and the rest of the public can view a copyrighted work (a newspaper, a book, a website, an image, a piece of music) doesn't mean you have the right to make derivative works ("copies") from it - in almost all cases, unless you are explicitly granted the right to do so by the copyright owner, you do not have the right to make a copy of it. – Scott Sep 27 '11 at 16:51

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