In late June of 2021, Members of Canada’s Parliament passed Bill C-10: An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts. The Bill proposes to subject social media platforms and streaming services, collectively described in the Bill as ‘online undertakings’, to requirements similar to those imposed on traditional television and radio broadcasting companies in Canada. For example, this proposal could include requiring these companies to contribute financially to the production of Canadian cultural industries. The proposed changes aim to harness the explosive popularity of social media and streaming sites to support … Continue Reading
If you entered into a trademark settlement agreement where one party agreed not to use your registered trademark and then that party proceeded to use a very similar term on social media, is that a “violation” or a “material violation” of the agreement? The answer is important because it determines whether you can get summary judgment on your breach of contract claim, according to a federal trial court in Florida. (PayCargo, LLC v. CargoSprint LLC, Case No. 1:19-CV-22995-LOUIS (S.D. Fla. June 17, 2021 (2021 WL 2481867))… Continue Reading
On June 16, 2021, the Fifth Circuit held that social media providers cannot be held secondarily liable under the Anti-Terrorism Act (“ATA”) for aiding and abetting a foreign terrorist organization based on an individual’s acts within the United States. Plaintiff Retana, a victim of the July 2016 shooting committed by Micah Johnson (“Johnson”) in Dallas, Texas, along with his husband (together “Plaintiffs”) sued several social media companies (“Defendants”) alleging that Defendants were secondarily liable for Retana’s injuries under the ATA because “they provided material support to Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization that used Internet services and social media platforms to … Continue Reading
As influencer marketing skyrockets in importance, social media companies have taken steps to make their platforms more attractive to this new wave of advertising. One way of making platforms attractive to both users and creators is to keep the platforms free of negativity. Negativity on social media has been a major reason for users to abandon sites and can make creators hesitant to use platforms where they do not feel supported. Additionally, 2020 saw many headlines regarding misinformation, hate-speech, and lack of moderation. As advertisers boycotted platforms and calls for action grew louder, social media platforms began to look for … Continue Reading
During May of 2021, the California Senate passed a law further prohibiting the use of broad confidentiality and nondisparagement provisions in agreements between a company and its employees. The new law expands on a 2018 law inspired by the #metoo movement, which banned settlement agreements preventing an employee from disclosing facts underlying claims for sexual harassment, or information about unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace. Now, Senate Bill 331, also known as the “Silenced No More Act,” aims to severely limit confidentiality and nondisparagement agreements arising out of any claim for harassment (not just sexual harassment) or discrimination in the … Continue Reading
Whether you are a crypto guru or not, you have likely heard about NFTs. The three-letter acronym, NFT, stands for “Non-Fungible Token”. NFTs are the centre of attention right now because of high-profile sales, such as $70 million for digital artwork, $2.5 million for Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, and more than $230 million spent buying and trading digital collectibles of NBA highlights. Copyright issues are emerging as some artwork and tweets are being tokenized into NFTs without the copyright owner’s consent. To explore copyright in the digital space of NFTs, a basic understanding of NFTs is first … Continue Reading
On May 4, 2021, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment for Snap, Inc., owner of the mobile application Snapchat, in a case brought by the parents of two teenage boys tragically killed in a car accident. The parents claimed that Snap, Inc. caused the death of their sons through its negligent design of Snapchat. They claimed that that their sons were encouraged to drive at dangerously high speeds by a Snapchat filter which purports to show the user’s real-time speed (the “Speed Filter”). The boys in this case drove at speeds reaching 123 miles per hour and eventually … Continue Reading
On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, the Canadian government launched a consultation on “a Modern Copyright Framework for Online Intermediaries”, seeking comments from the public until May 31. The goal of this consultation is to “ensure that Canada’s copyright framework for online intermediaries reflects this evolving digital world.” Alongside the announcement of this consultation, the government released a paper entitled “Consultation on a Modern Copyright Framework for Online Intermediaries” (the Paper). The Paper provides a background for this consultation and outlines four potential avenues for copyright reform.… Continue Reading
The U.S. Supreme Court recently ended the legal battle between former President Donald Trump and individuals whom Mr. Trump had blocked on Twitter, by granting the government’s petition for a writ of certiorari filed when Mr. Trump was still the President, vacating the Second Circuit’s judgment against Mr. Trump, and remanding the case with instructions to dismiss the matter as moot. See Biden v. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, et al., 593 U.S. __ (2021).
The legal discussions offered in this case may be significant for future disputes concerning speech made on interactive online venues made … Continue Reading
So far, 2021 has seen some social media businesses implementing content takedowns, rolling internal reforms and banning high-profile individuals and applications from using their services. It has caused some tech commentators to question recently whether this could be a defining moment in determining how social media businesses moderate content published on their platforms.
Some are calling for tougher regulation in order to make BigTech more accountable for content that appears on their platforms. For example, in the UK:
- A government cabinet minister has acknowledged explicitly that recent events “raise regulation questions”. The UK government accordingly plans to