Buhlshit (n.) – A spurious legal threat concerning the reproduction of tweets

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 Buhl threatened 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 story, verbatim, at her request, she threatened to sue him over his publication of her Twitter avatar.

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.

Techdirt's Tim Cushing has a question:

It's apparently OK to publicly post information from a minor's personal journal, but not OK to post a public Teri Buhl tweet anywhere else on the internet.

And Gizmodo's Mario Aguilar sums up the whole sorry falseness of it all:

Teri Buhl (Teri-Buhl, get it?) needs a lesson on the law and common decency and the Internet.