You better think twice before hitting retweet because there are some vengeful potential plaintiffs out there. King’s College and its football coach were sued for copyright infringement for retweeting a link to an unauthorized image of a single page of a book.
Of all the petty lawsuits that have been filed, never has one got me so riled up and at such an early time in the morning. Dr. Keith Bell is a former collegiate swimmer claiming to own numerous world records. When the swimming career dried up (get it??), Bell became a sports physiologist and motivational speaker. In 1982, Bell published “Winning Isn’t Normal,” a 72 page book which Amazon says “motivates the reader to do what it takes to win and to make the pursuit of excellence fun.”
Way back on November 6, 2015, Jeff Knarr, the head football coach at King’s College, retweeted a tweet that contained an image of page 8 of the 72 page book. The tweet was originally posted by Northern State University and received 206 retweets. The tweet remained posted for some 10 months before being deleted.
Almost two years after the retweet, Knarr and his employer were sued for copyright infringement over the retweet. Seems more than petty to sue over this so there has to be something else motivating this lawsuit. Actual damages can’t equate to much and will be almost impossible to prove. Knarr does have a fair use defense since he did only retweet one page of a much larger work. Bell seeks damages and his attorneys’ fees associated with the lawsuit.
While this case is still petty, both Knarr and the college need to spend money and defend the action. While I don’t want cases like this to inhibit people’s free speech, please be careful what you retweet. There are plaintiffs, like Bell, lurking in the bushes and waiting to sue.