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Social Media and the Law

How to Avoid Common Legal Mistakes in Social Media Contests and Sweepstakes

No rules for your social media contests? You may be at a legal risk.

Social media sweepstakes and contests appeal to consumers’ sense of fun, drive to compete, and impulses to share their experiences. Brands love them because they are inexpensive to implement since brand influencers, loyalists, and evangelists doing the lion’s share of the publicity work. Some prize promotions have a low level of consumer engagement (e.g. “like” us on Facebook for a chance to win), focusing on spreading awareness of the brand. If a brand wants to deepen the connection with its followers, it may launch a promotion that requires a few steps to enter, such as Twitter trivia contests or favorite …

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How to Secure Your Intellectual Property in Social Media

How to Secure Your Intellectual Property in Social Media

With social media moving so quickly and content being shared so readily, brands may lose control of their trademarks and copyrights. My colleague Christopher Budd has written a two-part blog on common sense content security in social media. His posts rightly discuss that social media engagement requires some degree of foregoing control. At the same time, brands need to be sensitive to protecting their intellectual property. This post presents the top five mistakes marketers make that expose a brand’s intellectual property to risk. 1. COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT MISTAKE: Photographs on Google Images are not free for the taking. Regardless of whether …

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How the FTC Wants Advertisers to Talk to Consumers on Social Media

How the FTC Wants Advertisers to Talk to Consumers on Social Media

A new set of legal standards now governs advertising in social media. Last month, the FTC released its revised “.Com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising,” setting new standards for making disclosures on space-constrained website, social media, and mobile platforms. While the original “Dot Com guides” had issued in 2000, advances in technology quickly rendered them incomplete. The new guides pick up where the old ones left off. They change the landscape for advertisers, putting a clear burden on them to ensure that consumers understand offers for sale of goods and services, regardless of the technology being …

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Essentials of Social Media Law: How to Get Started Legally

Essentials of Social Media Law: How to Get Started Legally

Brands are eager to harness the power of social media. They hire marketing experts so they can get it “right”, but they often overlook the legal implications of their social media marketing. Doing it “right” involves detailed risk analysis from both a marketing and legal perspective. Consider the rampant cause marketing we see in the wake of tragedies like Newtown and Hurricane Sandy. Many businesses are promoting their goods/services while offering a percentage of profits to victims. Are they aware that the New York Attorney General has issued “best practices” to promote cause marketing transparency through a series of disclosures? …

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Social Media in the Workplace: Hoaxes, Lies and a President’s Unconstitutional Behavior

Social Media in the Workplace: Hoaxes, Lies and a President’s Unconstitutional Behavior

A federal appeals court has declared that President Obama acted in violation of the U.S. Constitution.  Before I get to that case, and why it involves social media in the workplace, let’s look at a hoax and at liars using social media. Lying on Your Resume Will End Up Hurting You (duh!) And Will Be A Gift To Your Employer (huh?) Let’s focus for a minute on Mantei Te’o.  During his interview with Katie Couric, Mantei Te’o said he was a victim of an elaborate hoax, and once he learned of the hoax, he decided to play along with it …

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Where Does Information Disclosure Start and End in Social Media?

Where Does Information Disclosure Start and End in Social Media?

Social media is driving more content to virtually every digital nook and cranny around the globe, with the velocity of a fire hose on a lit match.  So it’s only ironic that the U.S. government recently called a well-known corporate executive on the carpet for disclosing (actually more like gushing) some positive news on Facebook to his quarter-million fans. Nothing wrong with putting out the good word, mind you, but if you run a publicly traded company you’re supposed to think twice before talking about the numbers of customers (which translates to dollars) reached by a certain time period (which …

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Employers: New California Law and New NLRB Decision On Social Media

Social Media and Employment Law: Don't have a general policy; instead, be specific.

September was a rather busy month for new developments regarding social media in the workplace.  In early September, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) issued its decision regarding various employee policies of Costco Wholesale Corp.  This is the first time the NLRB has issued a decision on many policies that typically appear in a company’s social media policy.  Then, in the last week of September, California became the third state to pass a law regulating when employers may request and access employee social media accounts.  Both of these events are significant because they are breaking new ground.  Let’s start with …

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To Pin Or Not To Pin: How Businesses Can Use Pinterest And Reduce Their Legal Risks Of Copyright Infringement

To Pin Or Not To Pin: How Businesses Can Use Pinterest And Reduce Their Legal Risks Of Copyright Infringement

Go ahead.  Let yourself enjoy Pinterest.  Pinterest is a pinboard styled social photo sharing website on which people can share what they find interesting and connect with people in the United States and abroad.  Relatively new, this social media network is extremely popular.  In August 2011, Time magazine listed Pinterest on its “50 Best Websites of 2011” column.  More recently, Mashable reported that Pinterest is a “top driver for retailers.”  Pinterest also has an app for iPhone, and a mobile website.  Consequently, it would be a shame for professionals and businesses to shy away from Pinterest because there are some …

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The Changing Social Business Landscape in 2012: Is Your Business Ready?

The Changing Social Business Landscape in 2012: Is Your Business Ready?

In the last few months of 2011 through the beginning of 2012, the social business landscape has proven to be as dynamically changing as ever.  If your business thought you were all caught up because you were beginning to see engagement on your Facebook Page and were equipped with enterprise-grade social media monitoring software, some of these recent events should have you thinking again as to what potential you might be missing out on – or what trends are emerging that you should be paying more attention to: The rapid emergence and need for your business to be on Google …

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Do Your Social Media Accounts Belong To Your Business? Why Worry, When There Are Safeguards You Can Take Now

Do Your Social Media Accounts Belong To Your Business?  Why Worry, When There Are Safeguards You Can Take Now

While many people have been hoping to get some resolution to the question of who owns the followers of a Twitter account from the ongoing litigation between PhoneDog and its former employee Noah Kravitz, this federal case in the Northern District of California is unlikely to provide clear answers.  The district court has recently held that PhoneDog can pursue its action for misappropriation of trade secrets and tortious interference with economic relationships based on new allegations concerning the alleged disruption of PhoneDog’s relationship with its advertisers.  Thus, the dispute is moving away from who owns the Twitter account. The original …

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Why Your Social Media Presence Needs To Be Vetted By A Social Media Attorney

Why Your Social Media Presence Needs To Be Vetted By A Social Media Attorney

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a very fitting description for what businesses are learning when they do not have their social media presence reviewed by a social media law attorney.  Here are a few examples of what businesses have had to pay as a result of not complying with the law in this area (which is admittedly a work in process with offline rules being a useful guide): 1.  A non-profit company, Hispanics Union of Buffalo, Inc. (“HUB”) was ordered to rehire 5 employees that it fired for complaining about a co-worker on Facebook, …

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3 Reasons Why Every Lawyer and Legal Professional MUST Embrace Social Media

3 Reasons Why Every Lawyer and Legal Professional MUST Embrace Social Media

It’s been awhile since I last blogged about how lawyers can use LinkedIn.  As I just spoke on a UCLA Law School Alumni panel about the significance of social media for the legal profession, I thought it was a good time to summarize what I spoke on for all to hear who could not attend.  One thing is for clear: Lawyers need to understand that social media is something they need to embrace sooner rather than later, the sooner the better it will be for them and their clients. So why are social networking websites so important to the legal …

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Twitter Goes to Court : The Courtney Love Twitter Defamation Case

Twitter Goes to Court : The Courtney Love Twitter Defamation Case

There have been famous cases reported of those who lost their job because of a tweet or even have a viral negative campaign spread about their company from a tweet.  Now your tweets may show up as evidence as part of a defamation case in the court of law. It has always been rumored, but never confirmed by anyone of course, that law enforcement agencies forced Facebook to open up their platform so that public investigators would get access to more information.  Whether this is true or not we may never know, but my first eye-opener was when I was …

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