For most of us, blogging or using social media begins as a means of expression, but can turn into a business and/or a tool for activism.
We don’t usually spend much time thinking about the legal implications of what we are doing. And then we get a cease and desist letter from a well-known company threatening to sue if we don’t immediately stop infringing on the company’s trademark or Facebook has shut down our page because we’ve been reported as infringing on somebody’s trademark. What do we do? Or, we’ve received a letter threatening legal action because a blog post is allegedly defamatory. Do we have legal liability? Can we be sued? Or, we realize we might need a trademark, or perhaps copyright, or what?
How do we protect ourselves and our brand? This panel will provide an overview of copyright, trademark, and business formation issues designed for bloggers and social media users. We will discuss issues to consider when transitioning from blogging as a means of expression to blogging as a business. We will consider whether a blogger should incorporate or form a limited liability corporation. We will also discuss how such business forms can protect a blogger’s personal assets in the event there is trouble.
We will also discuss whether a blogger needs to file and register a trademark or not and what the difference is between copyright and trademark protection. We will also discuss the oft misused “fair use” exception to the copyright law. And, we will talk about how to protect your work if another blogger or company appropriates it without permission. So, we will discuss how to protect your text and images from being use, and how to use other people’s text and images WITHOUT getting into trouble. We will also discuss how to maintain and protect trademarks and copyrights.
We will also talk about the legal implications of having a permanent and searchable record that can be used by others – competitors, litigants, regulators and other people who would wish to do you harm. Your public record is a big deal. It can be used against you – when you are in litigation, when you are applying for a job, by a regulatory agency (the IRS and others), and more. Making sure that record doesn’t hurt you is something to be considered.
After discussing the basics of business formation, trademark and copyright, we will talk more about the legal implications in activism in the social media space. We will talk about defamation and whether and when bloggers are entitled to the First Amendment protections afforded journalists. We will also talk about defamation . . . and what exposure a blogger has for what she posts.
Workshop Presented by:
Jennifer Taggart–Jennifer is a blogger, author and attorney. She has been practicing law for nineteen years and is currently a partner with the boutique firm Demetriou, Del Guercio, Springer and Francis, LLP. She has counseled many clients with respect to business formation, blogging policies, trademark and copyright, and similar issues. She understands the difficulties on being a blogger on typically a limited budged but needing assistance with these issues. You can find Jennifer at thesmartmama.com or on twitter as @thesmartmama.