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Twitter settles dispute with analytics firm over data access

An illustration picture shows the log-on icon for the Website Twitter on an Ipad in Bordeaux, Southwestern France, January 30, 2013. REUTERS
An illustration picture shows the log-on icon for the Website Twitter on an Ipad in Bordeaux, Southwestern France, January 30, 2013. REUTERS

By Gerry Shih

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter Inc and Peoplebrowsr Inc, a social media analytics firm, reached a settlement that would allow Peoplebrowsr to continue to buy Twitter's data until the end of 2013, the two companies announced Thursday.

Beginning next year, Peoplebrowsr will have to purchase access to the full "firehose" of 400 million daily tweets through one of Twitter's authorized data resellers, according to the settlement's terms.

Peoplebrowsr, based in San Francisco, sifts through Twitter and resells social media "intelligence" to clients that include media organizations and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The legal dispute between the two companies flared last late year, when Twitter, which has been ramping up its operations as it approaches a widely anticipated initial public offering, began to exercise greater control over its content.

Although Twitter contends that individual users retain intellectual ownership over their tweets, the company has moved aggressively to block some firms from profiting off of its data.

Peoplebrowsr had been purchasing data from Twitter directly, rather than through a reseller, on a month-to-month basis before Twitter sought to end the arrangement last July.

Peoplebrowsr Chief Executive Andrew Grill said the settlement gave Peoplebrowsr the eight months it needed to "technically and commercially" figure out how to continue providing the same kind of analytical services.

"We got out of this settlement what we needed," he said.

Financial details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Twitter said in a statement: "We're pleased to have this matter dismissed with prejudice, and look forward to PeopleBrowsr's transition by the end of the year off of the Firehose to join the ecosystem of developers utilizing Twitter data via our reseller partnerships."

(Reporting by Gerry Shih; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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