“A decent journalist, trained and skilled” objects to her tweets being published, threatens to sue

Boing Boing writes about a journalist, clearly one that is “a decent journalist, trained and skilled” like the Herald ones, who is trying to sue anyone and everyone who re-publishes her tweets. She seems to have an attitude a lot like that of David Fisher and Bryce Johns:

A “smashmouth investigative journalist”,Teri Buhl, claims that no-one may publish her tweets. Faced with widespread ridicule and criticism, she’s doubled down, going as far as to threaten lawsuits against bloggers who wrote about her.

The fuss started last week, when Buhlthreatened to sue a lawyer who quoted a tweet of hers. After he sought advice online, constitutional lawyer Mark Randazza pointed out that you can’t say something in public and subsequently claim that it’s off the record.

Moreover, Twitter’s terms of service allow for republication, and the service even offers embedding options to make it easy to do so. Though Buhl has now made her Twitter account private, disabling that service for her own tweets, a copyright claim is unlikely to get far in court. Tweets are so short that their copyrightability is suspect to begin with, say experts, and a “fair use” defense would likely prevail in any case.

When this was pointed out at Techdirt, however, she ultimately threatened to sue the site’s operators. When Jim Romenesko published her side of the storyverbatim, at her request, she threatened to sue him over his publication of her Twitter avatar. 

As is usual in these case the extreme hypocrisy of the journalist is revealed:

The final, bizarre twist: Buhl herself faced the prospect of legal sanctions after a teenager’s diary entries were published online without permission. Buhl was accused of publishing the personal journal of an ex-boyfriend’s daughter online, then charged with second-degree harassment and other misdemeanors, according to the New Canaan Patch.

Right, so it is ok to publish the private journal of a teenager but not ok for someone to re-publish your public tweets?

Since she is a self described “smashmouth journalist” it seems appropriate that we have a little bit of Smash Mouth:


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  • thor42

    Uhhh… retweets are the *whole point* of Twitter (which, BTW, I don’t use).

    Retweets send Tweeters’ vacuous, inane comments far and wide. Anyone who doesn’t want this to happen *shouldn’t be using Twitter.*

  • Patrick

    Typical journo – they deem everything they do to be within the law, especially if they break the law while in pursuit of a story. Take the teacups tape for example.
    When someone else infringes their “rights” they scream blue murder. Kind of like Sue Bradford hoiking on the cops & then whinging when they don’t protect her.