Who paid you to post that? Truth and Transparency in International Advertising

Social media personalities who have tweeted, grammed, Vine’d and snapped their way to stardom have no doubt caught the attention of businesses large and small. Much like how professional athletes and other celebrities are paid to endorse products, businesses and retailers have increasingly turned to recognized social media personalities (often called “influencers”) to recommend their products. Although social media influencers can get paid significant sums of money for product placement and rave reviews, sometimes the relationship with the company is not readily apparent to the public. Where the endorsement is not based on genuine user experience, this can have a misleading and negative impact on consumers. Continue reading

Copyright Office to Decrease DMCA Agent Registration Fees by 94%

As of December 1, 2016, the U.S. Copyright Office will be decreasing the fees to register a “notice and takedown” agent to $6.  Any website (including social media site) that accepts third party content may be interested in taking advantage of the “safe harbor” offered in the U.S., and those that have already registered an agent will need to update the registration.  You can find more details on our sister blog, the Brand Protection Blog, with this article:  http://www.thebrandprotectionblog.com/copyright-office-to-decrease-dmca-agent-registration-fees-by-94/

U.S. House takes steps to protect consumers’ rights to post negative reviews

We have all seen the reviews of products or services that disgruntled consumers post on review sites such as Yelp. Lately, however, some consumers have faced lawsuits for violating “gag orders,” or non-disparagement clauses, found in agreements between businesses and consumers. These clauses restrict consumers’ ability to publish any negative criticism about their experiences and are often placed in the fine print of form contracts.  These agreements provide that, when the consumer posts a negative review, or even speaks negatively about the business’s products, services, or conduct, the business would have a cause of action against the consumer for breach of contract. Continue reading

Artificial Intelligence and Social Networks

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (“AI”) or cognitive computing involves the use of computer program code to control machines to mimic cognitive functions, such as learning, classification, and problem solving. AI is a technical field of computer science and includes machine learning and natural language processing. Continue reading

You’re Uninvited: Managing Unauthorized Third Party Access

Most people would not bring along a group of uninvited strangers to a dinner party or, even worse, a wedding. Society has certain expectations around attendance, guest lists, RSVPs, and the like.  And yet, in the digital realm, these social norms may not have the same effect.   What can be done about digital party crashers?  In particular, how can the owner of a social network ward off competitors who seek access to network content by riding users’ coattails? Continue reading

Germany orders Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp user data

The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (Hamburg DPA) recently issued an administrative order prohibiting Facebook from collecting and storing user data of German WhatsApp users.

The Hamburg DPA also ordered Facebook to also delete all data that has already been forwarded to Facebook by WhatsApp. Continue reading

Will reverse class actions facilitate online IP enforcement in Canada?

While the internet has created ample opportunities for IP rights holders to exploit their intellectual property rights online, it also poses significant challenges relating to the protection of those same IP rights from would-be infringers. The internet’s global reach combined with the sophistication and anonymity of most online users has created an environment where it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold individual infringers accountable. Continue reading

Not all employee complaints on Twitter are concerted activity

Earlier this year, we discussed that a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge found that an employee’s tweets could be considered protected “concerted activity” in Chipotle Services LLC d/b/a Chipotle Mexican Grill.  As a reminder, the administrative law judge determined that portions of Chipotle’s outdated Social Media Code of Conduct policy violated the U.S. National Labor Relations Act (NRLA).  The judge also found that Chipotle’s request that the employee remove his Twitter posts (i.e. “tweets”) also violated the NLRA. On August 18, 2016, a three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) affirmed that Chipotle’s Social Media Code of Conduct violated the NLRA, but the NLRB reversed the administrative law judge’s finding related to the Twitter posts. Continue reading

Are your social media followers/fans/members authentic?

We have previously written on social media account verification for businesses, in order to help customers deal only with the authentic brand.  But what about authenticating your social media followers/users/fans/members?

Unfortunately, there are currently “no methodologies available that would provide us with an exact number of non-actual member types of accounts,” according to LinkedIn’s 10-K filing for 2015.  (10-K at 18.)  LinkedIn goes on to state that some of its “non-actual member types of accounts” are:  Continue reading

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