Social Media |
Social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube are not only challenging traditional business and marketing models, they are also giving rise to a plethora of new legal issues. Perkins Coie understands the challenges presented by this new media because our attorneys work on a daily basis with clients across the social media spectrum. We work with pure social media companies, as well as retailers, manufacturers and traditional media companies launching their own social networking features or participating on other platforms.
Perkins Coie's Social Media industry group takes a multidisciplinary approach to solving our clients' legal issues, thus encompassing all of the ways social media intersects with their businesses. Perkins Coie has extensive experience in dealing with social media issues commonly arising in the areas of privacy and data security, user-generated content and content liability, and labor and employment, among others.
Social Media Startups
Retailers and manufacturers are embracing social media to market their products or launch their own networks as new brand channels. At the same time, they are striving to protect their brand online against fake fan pages or negative messaging. Because our lawyers work with pure social media players on their terms and conditions, we understand how retailers can effectively manage their social media presence. We also work with retailers and traditional media companies on the following:
- Trademark and brand protection
- Product/service marketing on social media sites
- Purchase of advertising
- Deployment of Web sites or online product launches that leverage social media technologies
- Review and negotiation of platform and partner agreements
We regularly counsel our clients on privacy and social media issues involving a combination of state, federal, and international laws and regulations. We have counseled numerous clients on development of social networking sites and communities to ensure compliance with current and emerging privacy, data security laws, and Internet safety best practices. We have also counseled clients on the unique privacy issues and terms-of-use obligations relating to marketing and data collection through social networking sites and have assisted in the drafting of privacy policies. In addition, we help social media clients respond to legal and governmental requests for information about their members.
In the area of enforcement, we have prosecuted and conducted investigations on behalf of social media clients against spammers, hackers, phishers and other computer system abusers and criminals. For example, in 2009 we helped Facebook secure a $711 million judgment against Sanford Wallace, one of the world's most notorious spammers, commonly known as the "Spam King."
User-Generated Content and Content Liability
As part of their social media strategy, companies are now using blogs, micro-blogs and even customer reviews to enhance their online identities and promote their products. At the same time, they need to be aware of potential liability for user-generated content and other content that may be posted or used in connection with such activities, including intellectual property claims, defamation claims and rules established by the Federal Trade Commission, and understand the scope and limits of the protections available through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and Communications Decency Act (CDA). We have a deep understanding of the ways in which companies are leveraging user-generated content and help them navigate a minefield of laws and regulations. We have represented Internet and social media clients in a wide variety of litigation and disputes involving content liability claims, including copyright, trademark, trade secret, right of publicity and advertising law claims, and cases involving the application of the DMCA and the CDA.
Social media poses a set of issues that touch on everything from maintaining confidential company information to the appropriate use of these tools in the workplace. The potential power and utility of these sites can quickly give way to legal and public relations disasters. Before employment, employers may be gathering too much information about potential applicants. During employment, employers may be opening themselves to liability for statements by their employees, for wage and hour issues, or even for prohibiting employees from engaging in certain types of social media use. And, after employment, employers may not be taking proactive steps to protect their trade secrets. Drawing on both our deep knowledge of employment law and our familiarity with cutting-edge technology, we help clients define what is right for them and draft online social media workplace policies that support their goals.
Our team also engages in regular use of social networking platforms both professionally and personally. This use has helped our team truly understand and anticipate the complex issues that can arise in these settings and provide a means for communicating relevant news and updates to clients who use these services themselves.
As a further service to our clients, our attorneys regularly post to Perkins Coie's blogs. These blogs offer forums to share our insights and stay abreast of rapid changes surrounding Internet and social media-related issues. See our news section for more information on our blogs. Additionally, our attorneys frequently write on this topic for online and print publications and regularly serve as speakers at numerous e-commerce, privacy and social networking events.