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New course: Legal issues of social media

GavelI’ve been working with the Ark Group over the last few weeks to develop a new course in social media and the law in the UK, which I’m going to be running on the 2 December 2009.

The aim of the course is to be very practical and hands on, looking as much at preventative measures as what to do when things go wrong. The course will look at issues such as:
Copyright, rights and intellectual property
Defamation
Privacy and data protection
Contempt of court
Breach of contract
Unfair trading

I’m also really happy that a specialist lawyer will be joining us for one of the sessions in the afternoon to answer questions and go through newer aspects of the law.

More details and how to book here.

Social media and the law: neat move by WordPress

I missed this when it was first announced but WordPress have recently joined forces with PicApp to offer users free access to premium images, such as those below.

What a sensible move. In doing so they have made a positive step towards solving the breach of copyright problem that plagues the web.

[picapp src=”1/0/3/1/Red_umbrella_amongst_24c5.jpg?adImageId=6196216&imageId=5065436″ width=”380″ height=”285″ /]

[picapp src=”3/2/8/4/Obama_Holds_Presidential_c50f.JPG?adImageId=6196328&imageId=6827587″ width=”500″ height=”246″ /]

PicApp stock images are categorised into two types – editorial and creative. The umbrella came from the creative category, and the Obama from the editorial section in which news, sport and entertainment photos can be found.
Pic App screen shot
To use the service simply enter a search term or keyword into PicApp and select the photo you wish to use. A dialogue box then appears helping you select the size and placement together with additional information about the photo and further related images. Copy the embed or image code and paste it into your blog post. See below:
Pic App embedding options

The service importantly solves two problems:

1. For bloggers, publishers and website owners – helps you find quality images easily to illustrate blog posts without breaching copyright or paying royalties. Therefore keeping them on the right side of the law. In the past I have used services such Stock Exchange royalty free photos, used my own photos or screen shots. Yet sometimes you want that newsy image or there are limits to those three options. PicApp claim to have over 20 million images. Whilst the bias seems to be towards the US this is a massive resource to add to the illustration tool box.

2. For photographers and copyright owners – a monitored distribution channel. PicApp claim they ensure copyright owners are paid for their valuable content. It would also seem that PicApp will enable photographers to join the service and monetize their photos in the future.

However, two complaints:

  1. Get rid (or make much smaller) the “Click on the PicApp images for more. Embed” element. It takes up too much space on smaller images.
  2. Resolve how the WordPress.com embed operates – as currently selecting an alignment or ‘wrap’ does not alter the code given and thus doesn’t enable very simple image functionality.

Social media and the law

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
Defamation
Privacy
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.