GavelAt today’s Investor Relations Conference at the London Stock Exchange, fellow panellist, media lawyer, Duncan Calow from DLA Piper, gave an excellent presentation of the law as it regards social media. The areas of the law that those engaging in this area – from bloggers to brands – should at least have some awareness of. He summarised the different aspects of the law as ‘known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns’, as follows:

Known knowns
Intellectual property rights
Contempt of court
Breech of [employment] contract

Known unknowns
Listing rules
Employment law
Telecommunications Act
Protection From Harassment Act
Terrorism Act

Unknown unknowns
Blogs and social media in the courts
“What is unlawful offline is unlawful online”
US experience [and how it may affect UK law]
UK development
Nigel Smith v ADVFN – July 2008
Author of a blog v Times newspaper – June 2009
Ministry of Justice – Defamation and the Internet, consultation paper – September 2009

I’d also add that those working in social media should be aware of the 2008 Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations which outlaws:

  • Creating fake blogs
  • Falsely representing oneself as a customer; and
  • Falsely advertising on social media site

In this area the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Code of Conduct is also well worth understanding, it states:

  1. Consumer protection and respect are paramount
  2. The Honesty ROI: Honesty of Relationship, Opinion, and Identity
  3. We respect the rules of the venue
  4. We manage relationships with minors responsibly
  5. We promote honest downstream communications
  6. We protect privacy and permission in a campaign when asked by consumers or the media.
  7. We will provide contact information upon request.

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