Can Britney Spears sue Twitter after account is hacked?

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Can Britney Spears sue Twitter after account is hacked?

Thu Nov 12, 2009 @ 08:00AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

If Twitter isn't careful, the micro-blogging service could be facing some angry, litigious celebrities whose images have been damaged by hijacking impostors.

Recall that in May, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa filed claims against Twitter for violating his trademark, misappropriating his likeness, invading his privacy and damaging his reputation after a user of the microblogging service registered an account pretending to be Tony LaRussa. The lawsuit was later settled, but many legal observers believed Twitter would have a strong "fair use" defense based on parody.

What would have happened in that lawsuit if the account wasn't a parody and Twitter blessed it as legitimate?

In June, Twitter introduced a new program whereby it would verify the identities of celebrities. Lately, the service has been hit by a rash of hackers who have gained access to peoples accounts.

The latest victim is Britney Spears. Here's a screen shot of the singer's "verified account" from this morning. "Britneyspears" tweets about how she's giving herself to Satan and awaiting the "new world order." The Twitter account was updated a few minutes ago to note the hack.

Picture 1

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to

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