Social Media Law

Social media has quickly evolved from a value-added service to a primary means of business, advertising, marketing, promotion, communication, and reputation/brand management. One of the consequences of this shift is that businesses, individuals and organizations of all types face a new set of challenges and uncertainties that arise alongside the opportunities these new technologies provide. This is particularly true for entities that are new to, but wish to increase, a social media presence, while ensuring that they are in compliance with applicable and rapidly evolving laws and regulations.

The attorneys in our Social Media Law practice help clients manage their online and social media platforms and presence, from word-of-mouth advertising to on-line and mobile contests, sweepstakes and promotions. We help businesses respond to claims, complaints and regulatory actions. And we guide businesses and individuals alike in understanding and complying with user-driven standards, cooperative self-governance and regulatory oversight.

Social media gives rise to a universe of advertising, business and commerce, sociological and legal issues. To provide the most comprehensive services to our clients, our multidisciplinary practice supports and draws on the firm's depth in all of its practice areas, including Business & Finance, Intellectual Property & Technology, Labor & Employment, Litigation & Dispute Resolution, Policyholders' Insurance Coverage. Our dedicated social media practice group provides cutting-edge, practical counsel on effective risk-management policies, and delivers effective solutions for today's businesses and individuals.

Intellectual Property

In today's knowledge economy, we help clients identify and protect some of their most valuable business assets—their intellectual property, trade secrets and brand identity. Our attorneys provide effective counsel on the impact of social media and related law on the protection, dilution and infringement of all types of intellectual property, including:

  • Patents
  • Copyrights
  • Trademarks, service marks and brands
  • Trade secrets
  • Software
  • Digital content

Technology

The explosion of new technology has left the law struggling to keep pace. Maintaining close contacts within the technological community and diligently monitoring new legal developments in this area, our attorneys provide counsel on best practices to comply with evolving technology-related law. In addition, we help developers, marketers and businesses protect data and processes, including developing security and data breach response plans. Our attorneys have experience in the following areas of technology:

  • Software
  • Digital content
  • User-generated content
  • Security practices and procedures
  • Data breaches and response

Employment Matters

When content can be accessed and disseminated at the touch of a finger, both employers and employees have justifiable concerns about how and under what conditions that information is used. Moreover, the laws governing employment create significant minefields for the employer drafting an employee policy. Our attorneys work with businesses to develop simple, compliant and effective social media policies, procedures and audit tools that help them better manage and control information in these and other areas:

  • Employee commentary—as official company representatives and as private citizens
  • Employee obligations to maintain company trade secrets
  • Employee obligations regarding confidentiality and privacy (e.g., maintaining the confidentiality of company and third-party information)
  • Employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act and other relevant regulations
  • Union-related grievances
  • Use of social media and company technologies both inside and outside of the workplace

New Media Law

As businesses make greater use of alternative marketing channels and increase their online presence, virtually every company with a website or a social media presence is now a provider of entertainment content. In this new reality, we help clients understand the impact of the Internet and new media law on their day-to-day operations and strategic business initiatives—offering counsel on a range of matters related to the use of social media:

  • Hosting, distribution and content-licensing agreements for web-enabled and other digital content
  • Cloud computing and other software-as-a-service (SaaS) agreements
  • Contests and sweepstakes
  • Promotion and sponsorship of live and streamed events
  • Editing and management of blogs and other community-based tools
  • Domain name registration and disputes
  • Managing user-generated content and maintaining "safe harbor" under the law

Entertainment Law

Our attorneys also advise individuals and businesses regarding the full range of traditional entertainment law needs, including the negotiation of the following:

  • Production, development and distribution deals representing both artists and studios in the areas of motion pictures, television, radio, music and new media technologies (including "Internet TV")
  • Acquisition of underlying and derivative rights
  • Protection and commercialization of media rights
  • Rights of publicity and defamation
  • Payola/plugola

Regulatory Compliance

We work with businesses and individuals to ensure awareness of and compliance with a broad range of state and federal legislation and agency policies, including identification of safe harbors and development of policies demonstrating good faith, in areas such as the following:

  • Personal health information privacy (HIPAA and HITECH Act)
  • Limitations of the collection of personably identifiable information
  • Evolving state and federal data privacy and security regulations, including data breach notice statutes and PCI-DSS
  • FCC and FTC regulations on broadcasting and advertising (including indecency)
  • Children's online privacy and cyber-bullying
  • Copyright and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Ongoing Business Activities

As companies grow and evolve, they must understand the effects of social media—including technology, the law and regulatory oversight—on the lifecycle of a business. Our attorneys advise clients on the full scope of their ongoing business activities in the social media context, including the following:

  • Formation and structuring of entities
  • Conducting risk assessments and managing insurance coverage
  • Developing, marketing and distributing products and services
  • Responding to legislation, regulation and court decisions—both nationally and internationally
  • Corporate transactions, including acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, strategic alliances and co-branding agreements

Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Courts, legislators, law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies are often several steps behind the pace of change in the area of social media. As disputes and other conflicts arise involving social media, our experienced litigators help clients balance established precedent with the uncertainties of evolving cultural and legal standards. We work closely with clients to develop and implement creative and cooperative dispute resolution strategies that not only address their immediate concerns but also anticipate evolving social media law and set the stage for future success.