Social Media Law


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Social Media Law 2008

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Social Media Law

  1. 1. Social Media & the law
  2. 2. Part I –the Legal Issues <ul><li>Defamation </li></ul><ul><li>Privacy </li></ul><ul><li>Copyright </li></ul><ul><li>Trademarks </li></ul>
  3. 3. Libel Basics <ul><li>The elements of a cause of action for defamation are: </li></ul><ul><li>1.A defamatory (pejorative) statement (it’s assumed untrue ) </li></ul><ul><li>2. Published by the Defendant (to another). </li></ul><ul><li>3. Reasonably understood to refer to the Claimant. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Examples: <ul><li>Incompetence in your business or profession </li></ul><ul><li>Corruption - particularly against those in public office </li></ul><ul><li>Dishonesty - Lying or Theft </li></ul><ul><li>Adultery - if married </li></ul><ul><li>Previously accusations of promiscuity or homosexuality were defamatory, but less so. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Defenses <ul><li>Truth (justification) </li></ul><ul><li>Fair Comment (honest opinion based on true facts) </li></ul><ul><li>Privilege (Qualified ---legal, social, moral on both sides) </li></ul><ul><li>If there is no defense, it is a libel (if written) and damage I presumed. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Extent of liability <ul><li>The Repetition Rule – no defence to repeat – each publisher is liable. </li></ul><ul><li>Republication Rule— a publisher liable for all forseeable republications. </li></ul><ul><li>All in the chain liable, primary (authors, editors and publishers) and secondary publishers (printers, distributors and deliverers) </li></ul><ul><li>Secondary publishers could rely on the defense of innocent dissemination. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Remedies <ul><li>Correction – online editions often edited on request </li></ul><ul><li>Right of Reply </li></ul><ul><li>No injunctions for Libel –publish and be dammed </li></ul><ul><li>Damages. For individuals the limit around £250,000 and much less for companies </li></ul>
  8. 8. A Drastic Step to sue: <ul><li>Must sue in 1 year and both Statements of Case will be reported in the media. </li></ul><ul><li>The Defence opens the trial –so initial media coverage is negative for Claimant. </li></ul><ul><li>Often people start proceedings to save their reputation and hope to settle quietly when the public has forgotten – but you may have to pay the other party’s legal fees. </li></ul>
  9. 9. The New Reynolds Defence <ul><li>A new defence for the media – including bloggers and amateur journalists. </li></ul><ul><li>It allows publication of material you cannot prove is true, providing that checks and balances are adopted. </li></ul><ul><li>A special type of qualified privilege if: </li></ul><ul><li>(1) Public interest; and </li></ul><ul><li>(2) Responsible Journalism—10 point test. </li></ul>
  10. 10. The 10 point test <ul><li>The seriousness of the allegation </li></ul><ul><li>Nature of the information and the extent to which it is a matter of public concern </li></ul><ul><li>Source of the information – How reliable is it? </li></ul><ul><li>Who verified the information and what steps were taken? </li></ul><ul><li>Status of the information </li></ul><ul><li>Urgency of the matter – News is a perishable commodity but is there an urgent need for the public to be told? </li></ul><ul><li>Comment from the claimant? A meaningful opportunity to respond to the precise allegations should be given </li></ul><ul><li>Publish the gist of the claimant’s side of the story? Note a paragraph at the end will not suffice </li></ul><ul><li>Tone of the article – sensational or balanced? </li></ul><ul><li>10. Other . </li></ul>
  11. 11. Tips on Reynolds <ul><li>No defense if step into the story and acts as judge and jury or adopts the allegations. </li></ul><ul><li>Most critical of the 10 points are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The subject of the article must be given the precise allegations to be published </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The subject must have a meaningful opportunity to respond to them (7) and the gist of that response should be published (8) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Those relating to sources (3), status (5) and verification (4) –all require critical analysis of the allegations –rather than blind adoption of the unlikely, fanciful or plain uncorroborated. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Misuse of Private Info <ul><li>Is it private (does the person have a reasonable expectation of privacy); and </li></ul><ul><li>2. Is it proportionate to prevent disclosure? A balancing exercise between Privacy and Freedom of Expression. </li></ul><ul><li>Eg. </li></ul><ul><li>Family life , intimate relationships and sexual life </li></ul><ul><li>Financial information and position </li></ul><ul><li>Physical and mental health and medical conditions and details of treatment </li></ul><ul><li>Previous convictions and sentences </li></ul><ul><li>Photographs and particularly of children </li></ul><ul><li>Personal privacy is not lost once disclosed. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Public Interest <ul><li>Can justify intrusions of privacy : </li></ul><ul><li>To detect or expose crime or impropriety. </li></ul><ul><li>Protect public health and safety. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Prevent the public from being misled –hypocrisy (eg Naomi Campbell). </li></ul><ul><li>4. Public funds. </li></ul><ul><li>The press often try to create a public interest hook to a story that is essentially private. </li></ul><ul><li>Egs. </li></ul><ul><li>-Lord Brown of BP’s lover’s use of BP resources. </li></ul><ul><li>-Max Mosley –make the sex romp Nazi to use hypocrisy hook </li></ul>
  14. 14. Remedies <ul><li>A warning by the PCC –can stop a story in its tracks if it is truly private. This is free! </li></ul><ul><li>An injunction –costs around £25k and can backfire badly –eg BP </li></ul><ul><li>If dissemination has passed the point of no return –then a remedy will not be granted eg Mosley. </li></ul><ul><li>If a privacy claim –then you usually also have a data protection claim for unfair processing. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Copyright Basics <ul><li>Protects form of fixation ---not the idea. </li></ul><ul><li>The individual creator of a work (or his employer) is the first owner of copyright. </li></ul><ul><li>Copyright will only prevent copying –not independent creation. </li></ul><ul><li>Copying is presumed from access and similarity, unless the defendant can prove independent creation. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Infringement Copyright infringement: 1. Is what is taken substantial?   2. If so, is there a defense? 3 very narrow “fair dealing” defenses :   A. Private study or research of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works for non-commercial purposes (§29). B. Criticism or review of a work already in the public domain with acknowledgement, (§30(1)). C. Reporting of current events with acknowledgement (this does not apply to photographs) (§30(2)).
  17. 17. Trade Marks <ul><li>A statutory right to the exclusive use of the mark in connection in the classes for which it is registered. </li></ul><ul><li>The right to sue for infringement against uses of an identical or similar mark in connection with identical or similar goods without consent, where a likelihood of confusion. </li></ul><ul><li>Owners of fameous marks can prevent use of an identical or similar mark on dissimilar goods if tarnishes brand (dilution). </li></ul><ul><li>Broader than copyright as independent creation is no assist as a defence. A monopoly. </li></ul><ul><li>Defences include comparative advertising, and use of names and descriptive use. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Marks on web <ul><li>Territorial nature of trade marks v Domain Names . </li></ul><ul><li>Taking third party’s mark as a Domain name, can constitute bad faith the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy of ICANN </li></ul><ul><li>Online use on a website is not considered international use, Courts consider: </li></ul><ul><li>The intentions of the site operator. </li></ul><ul><li>Languages, </li></ul><ul><li>Currency of prices, </li></ul><ul><li>Disclaimers and shipping territories </li></ul><ul><li>Telephone numbers and addresses will all be considered. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Territorial Issues <ul><li>A Defamation is published where read -not place of publisher. Potential liability is worldwide –subject to location of assets against which to enforce. Special rule in EU. </li></ul><ul><li>Privacy , usually country of residence of individual. </li></ul><ul><li>Copyright , Berne Convention members grant reciprocal recognition to other nationals copyright works </li></ul><ul><li>Trade Marks are country by country except for: </li></ul><ul><li>the Community Trade Mark (all 27) </li></ul><ul><li>International registrations </li></ul>
  20. 20. Part II: Online Issues
  21. 21. Takedown basics <ul><li>Applies to all content liability issues </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Only works if directed at the intermediary. Not for primary publishers, or authors or editors. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Cannot moderate or review. </li></ul><ul><li>Only applies if the intermediary has no actual knowledge (of the content) or constructive knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>The intermediary must expeditiously remove the material after receiving notification (Takedown). </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Liable for the content, if you leave it up after request. Demon v Godfrey and Blunt v Tilley. </li></ul>
  22. 22. If and how to Takedown <ul><li>Most ISPs remove on complaint ---no questions asked </li></ul><ul><li>Some resist –consider carefully the intermediary and the material. </li></ul><ul><li>If a clear defence, Takedown can backfire and be a PR disaster, E.g –we fought the Lloyds . </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>To give a Takedown Notice –do a WHOIS Search on the Domain . </li></ul><ul><li>The Takedown Notice should: </li></ul><ul><li>Identify the URL and the content complained of. </li></ul><ul><li>Be vague as to the legal justification for removal. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Trouble in the EU <ul><li>The UK --pro ISP, Blunt v Tilley & BBC v Allen, -- e.g. chat on Bulletin Boards is more slander than libel and casual , like people chatting in a bar. Smith v ADVFN. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>French Courts have taken a very different approach: </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Web tools plus ads destroys intermediary status and renders an editor or publisher, Lucky Comics v Tiscali, Lucky Comics v MySpace </li></ul></ul><ul><li>   </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Video sharing platform ,liable as availability of copyright works increased audience and income from advertising). Daily Motion </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Zadig Productions v Google Video (despite repeat takedowns , Google liable for new postings as had not shown it had taken all steps necessary to prevent reposting). </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Other free remedies <ul><li>Paid space or search –make a Complaint to the ASA </li></ul><ul><li>Editorial – complain to the PCC </li></ul><ul><li>Audiovisual – complain to Ofcom </li></ul><ul><li>Can use for inaccuracies/defamation and breach of privacy. </li></ul><ul><li>They will order removals or corrections and apologies ---but no damages. </li></ul><ul><li>Only requires the time to prepare a Complaint. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Getting the posters <ul><li>The intermediary may be ordered to disclose the identity of the poster -- a Norwich Pharmacal order. </li></ul><ul><li>Due to confidentiality & Data Protection obligations, ISP’s require a Court Order before revealing identities. </li></ul><ul><li>EU law requires a Court Order in civil cases, Promusicae v Telefonica </li></ul><ul><li>UK Courts have robustly refused to make orders where the comments were jokes or just abusive comments. BBC v Sheffield FC’s Dave Allen, BBC v Hargreaves </li></ul>
  26. 26. Fighting Takedown 1. Seek the precise allegations they say are inaccurate and the meanings they complain of. A blanket notice will not suffice.   2. Consider temporarily removing while taking advice.   3. Post the Takedown Notice—on your own site and also at . This ensures the public can see what is being done and casts sunlight on attempts to remove materials online. 4. Posting the other side of the story –create a qualified privilege or Reynolds defense to defamation–provided the information has some public interest relevance. See one we did at .
  27. 27. Linking <ul><li>Can be copyright or trade mark infringement or breach of the database right (if deep linking where no copying). </li></ul><ul><li>Can be commercial use as deep links take the user past advertising and affect the revenues. </li></ul><ul><li>Breach of contract --where linking is prohibited by the Ts & Cs. </li></ul><ul><li>No implied licences /consent just because online and not copy protected. </li></ul><ul><li>Intermediaries can and should treat UG links just like other UGC. </li></ul><ul><li>Care where the use is commercial, consider the nature of the owner. Newspapers sue, Copiepresse v Google </li></ul>
  28. 28. Keywords <ul><li>Invisible use of a competitors mark ---unproblematic. </li></ul><ul><li>English and German cases have held Google & Yahoo not liable for selling keywords that are third party trademarks e.g. Mr Spicy . </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid any misrepresentation that you are your competitor –or confusion as to the origin of the goods or services. </li></ul><ul><li>Caution if another’s mark used in your link/ad: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid use of another’s logo mark/graphics -copyright </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. Comparative advertising is permitted if compares like to like, is fair and honest , no likelihood of confusion, or denigration of goods or marks, or unfair advantage. 02 v Hutchison </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Second Hand Goods <ul><li>Trade mark holders can only control the first sale in the EU—after that rights are “exhausted. ” </li></ul><ul><li>Genuine second hand goods or repair services can be described by reference to the trade mark ---care required. BMW and Volvo cases –different results for second hand dealers. </li></ul><ul><li>eBay cases in the US and France: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tiffany v eBay, not liable as sales of authentic second hand goods were protected by “nominative fair use.” Generalized knowledge insufficient for liability and eBay tookdown. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Louis Vuitton & Christian Dior v eBay, eBay liable, Facts were almost identical but in France the keywords included “imitation” and “replica” and “fake” with the trade mark. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Blogs <ul><li>Bloggers subject to the law of libel and privacy and other legal restrictions on speech ---like any other publishers and like a newspaper. </li></ul><ul><li>Bloggers can claim the Reynolds defence of qualified privilege for the media, if public interest and they meet the standard of responsible journalism (see the 10 point test). </li></ul><ul><li>Untested whether bloggers can claim protection from disclosure of their sources --under §10 of the Contempt of Court Act. </li></ul><ul><li>Employee blogs: unauthorized or undisclosed, may expose : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Trade secrets and business plans and financials. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Company to vicarious liability for bullying or harassment or discrimination of other employees and defamation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reputational --as employer, corporate citizen </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Flogs/Astroturfing <ul><li>A breach of the CAP Code’s requirements of truthfulness which applies to advertising in paid for space and paid for search or sponsored links and viral ads with downloads. </li></ul><ul><li>New rule 22.3 on “Recognizing Marketing Communications and identifying marketers” –marketers should not falsely claim or imply they are acting as consumers or for purposes that do not relate to their business. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  32. 32. Networking <ul><li>Users grant consent under the Ts & Cs and Privacy Policy, when users post information on themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Minors cannot consent. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Users cannot grant consent on behalf of others –and a particular issue with photos of private activities. </li></ul><ul><li>Users risk their privacy and personal data and disclosures they may later regret. </li></ul><ul><li>Abusive comments can be defamatory, harassment or bullying. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Identity theft and fraud and extortion are regarded as major risks for users. See ENISA report. </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual predators the major risk for minors </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  33. 33. Early cases <ul><li>Who owns a contact? </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Recruitment agency sued former employee (who had left to establish a competing firm) for migrating company contacts to his personal linked in account –despite the fact that it was done with their consent and once uploaded it had ceased to be confidential. Not a final ruling –merely an order to disclose documents. Likely a contract issue but once confidence is lost -gone for good. Hays v Ions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer cards and addresses were not confidential –when on a company website and the personal contacts could be found online. WRN v Awris. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>False Identities can be defamatory and misuse of private information –eg Applause Store Productions Limited and Mathew Firsht v Grant Raphael. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Regulation <ul><li>Taskforce on Child Protection on the Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Good practice guidance for providers of social-networking and other interactive services . Similar views as recent Byron review. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Key Recommendations: </li></ul><ul><li>Safety info & privacy tools </li></ul><ul><li>Takedown procedures </li></ul><ul><li>Clear information about data gathering </li></ul><ul><li>Default profiles set to private or to approved contacts for the under 18s </li></ul><ul><li>Private profiles of under 18s should not be searchable </li></ul><ul><li>Moderation of video and photo content from under 18s </li></ul><ul><li>Identity authentication and age verification </li></ul>