How Twitter responds to Japan’s Supreme Court decision?

For companies that provide universal services via the Internet, responding to laws and regulations that differ from country to country may be a problem. Twitter’s headquarters may be now considering how to respond to the decision of Japan’s Supreme Court. 

Previously on this blog, we reported a copyright infringement case in which the IP High Court recognized the responsibility of Twitter users who Retweeted a Tweet containing infringing content (See “Twitter Retweet function caused moral rights infringement in Japan”). Two years later, on July 21 2020, the Supreme Court upheld the IP High Court’s ruling and dismissed the Twitter’s appeal. You can see the decision (in Japanese) here

According to this ruling, users are required to make sure that the Tweet they Retweet is not infringing, despite this being a problem with the specifications of Twitter’s Retweet feature. Many people may hesitate to Retweet.  

In response to this decision, Twitter’s possible solutions are probably as follows:

  1. Change the global specifications of the Retweet feature so as not to trim the image
  2. Change specifications for the Japanese users as follows
    • Change specifications of the Retweet feature so as not to trim the images;
    • Disable Retweet function; or
    • Display a warning when using the Retweet feature. 

Twitter has not commented on the decision at this time. Some may think that no further action is necessary. Because Twitter requires users to comply with applicable laws, rules, and regulations in their Terms of Service.  However, Japan is reportedly the second largest market for Twitter. Therefore, Twitter is likely to take some action for this.

Considering this case, it may be better to design in advance so that the features can be changed depending on the nationality or location of the user to make an easier solution, when developing a global service on the Internet. 

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