What does research tell us? What research is needed? Robert Sprague Assistant Professor University of Wyoming College of B...
So many issues. So little time. <ul><li>Employees fired for blogging </li></ul><ul><li>Employers using Google to screen ap...
Public Relations & Social Media <ul><li>Legal issues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Commercial speech </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>De...
Commercial speech <ul><li>Commercial speech is granted limited constitutional protection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subject to ...
Commercial speech doctrine <ul><li>Originally used to help communities restrict/prevent door-to-door peddlers </li></ul><u...
When is a blog a commercial site? Journalist: They gather, select, and prepare, for purposes of publication to a mass audi...
Walmarting Across America <ul><li>Oops! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Should Richard Edelman have known better? </li></ul></ul><ul...
Deceptive speech <ul><li>Commercial speech doctrine allows the government to prohibit deceptive speech </li></ul><ul><li>A...
Buzz marketing <ul><li>Buzz marketing is a major area of concern </li></ul><ul><li>The FTC is particularly concerned with ...
No definitive guidelines <ul><li>FTC has declined to issue specific guidelines </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will make determinati...
Buzz marketing on the Internet <ul><li>Fake peers </li></ul><ul><li>Hidden sponsors </li></ul><ul><li>Pay-to-post </li></u...
Commercial speech and new media Is Marié engaged in deceptive trade practices? Marié Digby Pop / Rock / Alternative  Los A...
Defamation <ul><li>Another restriction on speech </li></ul><ul><li>A false statement that harms an individual’s reputation...
New trend in publisher liability <ul><li>What are the risks? </li></ul><ul><li>Courts are beginning to differentiate betwe...
New areas of research?
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Dr. Robert Sprague - Research

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The changing face of communication law in the rise of social media.

From Saturday's Session 2 of UGA Connect.

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Dr. Robert Sprague - Research

  1. 1. What does research tell us? What research is needed? Robert Sprague Assistant Professor University of Wyoming College of Business Connect. Public Relations & Social Media Conference University of Georgia Grady College October 19-20, 2007
  2. 2. So many issues. So little time. <ul><li>Employees fired for blogging </li></ul><ul><li>Employers using Google to screen applicants </li></ul><ul><li>Defamation and Reputation on the Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Copyright violations on YouTube </li></ul><ul><li>Bloggers as journalists </li></ul><ul><li>Deep linking </li></ul>
  3. 3. Public Relations & Social Media <ul><li>Legal issues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Commercial speech </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deceptive trade practices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Liability for content </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Commercial speech <ul><li>Commercial speech is granted limited constitutional protection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subject to regulation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Time, place, and content </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>What is commercial speech? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Never really defined by the courts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But, courts “know it when they see it” </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Commercial speech doctrine <ul><li>Originally used to help communities restrict/prevent door-to-door peddlers </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional concept </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication to propose a commercial transaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>I will sell you “X” product for “Y” price </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Concept has been expanding </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Statements encouraging a future economic transaction </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. When is a blog a commercial site? Journalist: They gather, select, and prepare, for purposes of publication to a mass audience, information about current events of interest and concern to that audience. GM’s FastLane blog is a forum for GM executives to talk about GM’s current and future products and services
  7. 7. Walmarting Across America <ul><li>Oops! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Should Richard Edelman have known better? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Desire to control the message </li></ul><ul><ul><li>blends independence with commercial backing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is this deceptive? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Deceptive speech <ul><li>Commercial speech doctrine allows the government to prohibit deceptive speech </li></ul><ul><li>An act or practice is deceptive under federal law if there is a representation or omission of material information that is likely to mislead consumers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A representation or omission is material if it is likely to affect consumers’ choice of, or conduct regarding a product </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Buzz marketing <ul><li>Buzz marketing is a major area of concern </li></ul><ul><li>The FTC is particularly concerned with “sponsored” consumers </li></ul><ul><li>Is it deceptive to fail to disclose that a marketer is paying a sponsored consumer to make claims to other consumers about the marketer’s product? </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers may reasonably give more weight to statements that sponsored consumers may make about their opinions or experiences with a product based on their assumed independence from the marketer </li></ul>
  10. 10. No definitive guidelines <ul><li>FTC has declined to issue specific guidelines </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will make determinations on a case-by-case basis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Where there exists a connection between the endorser and seller of the advertised product which might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement, such connection must be fully disclosed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Must there be an “advertisement?” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Buzz marketing on the Internet <ul><li>Fake peers </li></ul><ul><li>Hidden sponsors </li></ul><ul><li>Pay-to-post </li></ul><ul><li>Sock puppets </li></ul><ul><li>Sponsored consumers </li></ul><ul><li>Assume FTC approach to “traditional” buzz marketing will apply to blogs and social media </li></ul><ul><li>Sock puppets will be illegal in the EU in 2008 </li></ul>
  12. 12. Commercial speech and new media Is Marié engaged in deceptive trade practices? Marié Digby Pop / Rock / Alternative Los Angeles, California United States Profile Views:  157788 Last Login:  9/22/2007                               
  13. 13. Defamation <ul><li>Another restriction on speech </li></ul><ul><li>A false statement that harms an individual’s reputation in the eyes of the community </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Accusations of dishonesty, criminality, adultery </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Historically, publishers have been held immune from liability arising from third party content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bloggers assume they are immune from liability for linking to outside content </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. New trend in publisher liability <ul><li>What are the risks? </li></ul><ul><li>Courts are beginning to differentiate between “provider” and “publisher” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A provider merely reproduces material without alteration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Immunity preserved </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New view of publisher </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Making editorial decisions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Growing risk that minor editing of third party content may destroy immunity </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. New areas of research?

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