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Elon Musk’s X can’t invent its own copyright law, judge says

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses a US district judge's dismissal of Elon Musk's X Corp's lawsuit against Bright Data, a data-scraping company accused of improperly accessing X (formerly Twitter) systems and violating both X terms and state laws when scraping and selling data.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Dismissal of Elon Musk's Lawsuit

1. What were the key reasons for the judge's dismissal of Elon Musk's lawsuit against Bright Data?

  • The judge found that X Corp (Twitter) failed to state a valid claim against Bright Data for accessing public data posted by X users.
  • The judge ruled that the claims based on access to X's systems failed because X Corp did not provide sufficient evidence to support them.
  • The judge also found that the claims based on Bright Data scraping and selling X user data were preempted by federal copyright law.
  • The judge noted a tension between X Corp's desire to control user data and its reliance on the safe harbor of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
  • The judge warned that if X Corp prevailed, it would "entrench its own private copyright system" and "yank into its private domain and hold for sale information open to all."

2. What were the implications of the judge's decision, according to the article?

  • The judge's decision had "profound implications in business, research, training of AI models, and beyond," according to Bright Data's CEO.
  • The decision affirmed that ethical and transparent scraping practices for legitimate business use and social good initiatives are legally sound.
  • The decision suggests that companies cannot control user data intended for public consumption and will not win legal battles to do so.

[02] Tension Between Platforms and Copyright

1. What was the key tension identified by the judge between X Corp's (Twitter's) position and copyright law?

  • The judge found that X Corp wanted to both maintain the safe harbor protections of Section 230 and exercise the rights of a copyright owner to control and monetize user data.
  • The judge warned that this would "upend the careful balance Congress struck between what copyright owners own and do not own," potentially shrinking the public domain.

2. How did the judge rule on the issue of fair use and X Corp's attempt to control user data?

  • The judge found that X Corp's attempt to exclude Bright Data from accessing public X posts owned by X users would have "obliterated" the fair use provision of the Copyright Act, "flouting" Congress' intent.
  • The judge stated that under X Corp's position, Bright Data and other users would not be able to make fair use of the copyrighted content without X Corp's permission and payment.

[03] Implications for the Internet

1. What were the potential consequences the judge warned about if X Corp had prevailed in the lawsuit?

  • The judge cited an appeals court ruling that giving social media companies "free rein to decide, on any basis, who can collect and use data" risks the creation of "information monopolies that would disserve the public interest."
  • The judge suggested that a win for X Corp could have had "dire consequences for the Internet."

2. How did the judge's dismissal of the lawsuit help avert these consequences?

  • By dismissing X Corp's lawsuit, the judge prevented the outcome of X Corp entrenching its own private copyright system and controlling access to public user data.
  • This allowed the "careful balance" between copyright owners' rights and the public domain to be maintained, as intended by Congress.
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