Social media law is a largely new frontier and is often unclear or difficult to understand. Trademarks, patents, and copyrights are all topics which can affect social media law, so it is important to know how these topics can affect you and your social media channels.
Social Media Law: What You Need to Know
At our Social Media Breakfast Houston, We brought in Travis Crabtree, a former journalist who has been practicing law with Gray Reed & McGraw for 16 years, to share with us the ins and outs of social media law. He is an expert in the fields of technology, media, and marketing law and he shared the do's and don'ts of social media law and what to do to protect your content.
Travis Crabtree is a former journalist who has been practicing law with Gray Reed & McGraw for 16 years. His practice focuses on technology, marketing and media. In addition to practicing law, he is co-owner of consumer legal businesses – swiftfilings.com, an online company that allows you to quickly form a business entity; trademarkengine.com, an online company that helps you to affordably file a trademark; and legalvorce.com, to easily file a divorce. He also is a blogger at the legal blog, eMedia Law Insider.
@traviscrabtree schooling us on social media law at today's #smbhou. pic.twitter.com/i62joNrZUB
— PRKRISTYNA (@PR_Kristyna) March 10, 2017
Protection for Your Content
Simply because you post something on a social media platform does not mean you are immediately given ownership of the post. If you post original content that is easily identified as your own work or the work of your brand, obtaining a copyright should be fairly simple. However, getting a copyright for a generic post or tweet can be difficult to impossible due to the sheer number of posts made on social media platforms every day.
We are live! #SMBHOU pic.twitter.com/rrPOVlZtzo
— Katie Butler (@thekatiebutler) March 10, 2017
Registering a copyright is the only surefire way to make sure your content is protected. You will not be able to pursue legal action or a lawsuit unless you file a copyright or prove damages to your company's image.
However, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) does offer some protection for content creators. It allows content creators to file a takedown notice against the website owner with their host. This is not always easy with offshore host companies and shady websites. You can read more in depth some of Travis' columns about the complications of the takedown notice. Or you can go here to this post by Sara Hawkins with step by step instructions for filing a takedown notice.
Just because an image or other content appears on Google images does NOT mean it can be used by you. Make sure to check the Copyright information on the website for whatever image or content you intend to use to ensure no legal discrepancies are made.
While seeing Fake News on our social media may make us cringe, it is not technically illegal. That being said, there are moral issues with purposely spreading false information.
It is illegal, however, to spread false information for marketing purposes, however, as this gives consumers a false view of what the company spreading untrue information is really like.
When sharing false information, there are two separate categories your actions can be placed under, negligence and intentional tort:
- Negligence means you were simply unaware of the information's truth and mistakenly shared false information.
- Intentional tort means you knowingly acted wrongly in order to hurt another person or business.
You were right @kamichat! @traviscrabtree was fantastic!! #WorthTheWait #SMBHou
— sarahshah (@sarahshah) March 10, 2017
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