IP ISSUES IN SOCIAL MEDIA Divya Raman Corporate Department Altacit Global Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.altacit.com
Use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue.
Media for social interaction, as a superset beyond social communication.
Eg: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube etc.
Impact of social media
Anti-government protesters in Tunisia and Egypt used Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to run rings around attempts at censorship and organize demonstrations that ousted presidents Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak.
Impact of social media (contd…) US has also seen seensome modest signs of social media-organized protest, with hundreds of protesters occupying Wall Street in anger at perceived excesses by its banks.
IP Issues in Social Media Social networking sites present several risks, including trademark infringement and copyright violation issues. For example, a company's valuable trademarks could appear without authorization on a user's profile page or as part of a user name ("name squatting") on a social networking site.
Some social media websites claim copyright over all items posted on its website.
While others recognize that the copyright remains with the owner.
File sharing is one of the aspect in infringement of copyright through social website. Eg: sharing video clips of movies, music, books being shared. All this has posed copyright infringement through social media.
Trademark can potentially be used to protect competitors from selling goods or services with confusingly similar marks.
Scrabulous: Developed by two commerce graduates in India – game application in facebook. Features of this game is similar to scrabble owned by Hasbro in Canada – only difference is scrabulous is in electronic format. Founders of scrabulous sued and they withdrew the game from facebook.
Trade Secret Social media can put at risk a company’s trade secrets. Since the sine qua non of a trade secret is that it is kept secret, the speed and ease in which information can be rapidly (and permanently) distributed with a click of a button in social media and internet poses a clear risk for any company seeking to maintain a trade secret. A simple posting of a company’s secret information can destroy the secret and leave that information to be available to anyone.
Customer List - Trade Secret Consider, for a second, a company that considers its customer list to be a trade secret and seeks to protect such information. A salesperson who identifies those customers as “friends” on Facebook, or “connections” on LinkedIn, or some other similar status on another social media website, could destroy the secret nature of such a list. It also can lead to that salesperson, in essence, appropriating that information should he or she leave to go to work for a competitor.
Case Laws One recently reported high-profile case involved Tony La Russa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, whose identity was hijacked on Twitter by an imposter. The suit filed in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco, which has since been dismissed, claimed that someone created an account under La Russa's name and posted tweets, giving the false impression that the comments came from La Russa. The suit also said that the comments were "derogatory and demeaning" and thus damaged La Russa's trademark rights.
There also have been reports of corporate sabotage. For example, it was reported that a public relations firm allegedly set up a Twitter account in the name of a rival firm. The firm then allegedly disseminated malicious tweets for two months before the competing firm realized that its identity had been hijacked.
Companies can initiate a self-monitoring program which include a weekly or monthly review of a number of available social media web sites.
Companies may decide to hire an outside service provider to monitor for negative comments and infringements in the social media websites.
Conclusion Social networking sites can present difficult enforcement and liability issues, but with appropriate preventative measures, consistent monitoring and carefully designed enforcement priorities and actions, companies can "confirm" social networking sites and their users as friends with few reservations.