Why Warner Brothers really does own the conversation about The Dark Knight Rises

So this just popped up on my Facebook feed:


Terms of use for a hashtag? Surely not?! I clicked on it and saw this:

#legendends terms of use

This strikes me as all kinds of wrong. The way I read this, you use #legendends on Twitter, and Warner Brothers then essentially owns your tweet, and can use it however they like for advertising, marketing or merchandising purposes, without crediting you in any way.


How are Twitter users even meant to see this? The terms are on Facebook! It’s not like you’ll see anything to notify you of these terms on Twitter before using the hashtag.

Warner Brothers can’t assume that everyone on Twitter using the #legendends hashtag will be on Facebook, like the ‘Dark Knight Rises – UK’ page, have spotted this post AND read the terms.

In fact, as far as I can see, this post is hidden from the main timeline on the ‘The Dark Knight Rises – UK’ FB page. This smacks of bringing these terms in on the quiet. Most people wouldn’t see this unless it came up on their News Feed and they were (like I was), puzzled or curious enough to click the link.

You can’t make someone enter into a contract they know nothing about.

Owning the conversation – literally

How on earth does Warner Brothers think this is OK? Let’s imagine I put up some terms on this blog about the use of a popular hashtag, say #ff, #winning or #justsayin.

Do I get to own all the tweets using that hashtag and then use them wherever and however I like just because I say I can?

I do appreciate that Warner Brothers has made and paid for this film, and has to promote it, and that social media is key to its strategy – in fact, I’m really excited to see it on Friday night and I don’t begrudge them hyping it up in the final days before its release.

But I’m amazed WB thinks it’s OK to take people’s words, say they own those words and use them for their own commercial purposes without attribution – potentially, without the authors of those words knowing anything about it.

I thought that social media was all about taking part, being fair and open and ethical. I thought that ‘owning the conversation’ was just a phrase. For Warner Brothers, it looks like it’s part of the business plan.

2 thoughts on “Why Warner Brothers really does own the conversation about The Dark Knight Rises

  1. Richard W

    It looks to me as though the license granted is only one of use (as you would expect with twitter anyway). Ownership isnt mentioned from what I can see. Look at it the other way around: what does it appear to be granting that you wouldnt expect to be able to do with a tweet anyway?

    1. willmcmanus Post author

      I agree that all non-protected tweets are public, and that technically they could use them. I think the non-attributation part is a little off, though, but mainly my concern is that these terms on Facebook, not on Twitter itself, and that people who use the hashtag have no way of knowing Warner Bros. has staked a claim to what they tweet.
      It’s at least ham-fisted and naive, or at worst pretty shady practice.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s