A few weeks ahead of its conference in Los Angeles, Twitter amended its terms of use to allow for advertising. The move means that the micro-blogging service might finally go for the brass ring by monetizing its huge base of 45 million users.

“… We leave the door open for advertising,” blogs CEO Biz Stone. “We'd like to keep our options open …”

What took you so long? It's not like Ashton Kutcher or Tila Tequila are going to mind. But advertisers might not be so warm to the opening. States The Times of London:

“Some are sceptical that advertising will catch on in a meaningful way on social networks, arguing that companies are reluctant to juxtapose their brands with unpredictable, and potentially offensive, user-generated content.”

The company also announced that “Twitter is allowed to 'use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute' your tweets because that's

what we do.”

It's an interesting assertion. If someone “tweets” verbatim part of the news from the New York Times or even LA Weekly — copyrighted material — Twitter is saying it has the right to redistribute it. The service might be protected, however, as 140 characters, its maximum tweet length, is just a snippit, and such content, intermixed with other material, could be considered “fair use” under U.S. copyright law.

But Stone also blogged that “your tweets belong to you, not to Twitter,” perhaps in order to avoid the kind of controversial content grab that had Facebook back-peddling with its own terms of use.

140: The Twitter Conference L.A., by the way, happens Sept. 22 and 23 at the Skirball Cultural Center.

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