Sued for Retweeting – Yes, That Just Happened

Dorsey & Whitney LLP

On Monday this week, a sports psychologist named Keith Bell sued King’s College in Pennsylvania and its football coach, Jeffery Knarr, for retweeting a photo of a page of Dr. Bell’s book “Winning Isn’t Normal.” In his complaint, Dr. Bell alleged copyright infringement, trademark infringement and violations of Pennsylvania common law.  Interestingly, Dr. Bell complains that there was no attribution of his work. We here at The TMCA wonder if this complaint would have been filed if attribution was given even though it is not legally material to the copyright claim?

According to the complaint, the original tweet came from the Northeastern State University Baseball Twitter account.  It is unclear whether Dr. Bell will also be suing Northeastern State. However, the complaint does allege that after Dr. Bell sent the university a cease and desist letter, it removed the original post, thereby removing all retweets, including those of the defendants. The original post was apparently retweeted at least 206 times, but we don’t have any information about whether any of those other individuals are also being sued by Dr. Bell.  We will keep watching this case for any interesting developments and report them to you, our faithful readers.  In the meantime, be careful what you retweet – you never know if the original post was authorized.

p.s. feel free to retweet our Twitter posts – we just love the free publicity.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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