The use of social media can be a great way to market good and services to a wide range of people, and strengthen a business brand while attracting new customers. According to one study, small businesses who want to succeed today should be using some form of social media. However, small business use of social media can also be rife with legal issues that can cause the business a lot of trouble.
Taking a few precautionary steps can protect the business while still allowing it to take advantage of the various social media platforms to grow.
One important legal issue that a business owner needs to be conscious of when using social media is the use of intellectual property. This can be both the business’s own intellectual property, and that owned by others. If a business is using its own intellectual property on its social media platforms, care should be taken to ensure that all legally required intellectual property notices are posted as well.
When using another person’s copyrighted work, it is important to make sure that the business has a license to use the work, or that the use of the work falls under fair use. Because determining if a particular use is fair use can be a legal matter to be determined by a court, it is therefore better to err on the side of caution and assume that most of time it will not be fair use. Hence, the business should attempt to get a license or permission to use the work.
Another potential legal issue can arise with the use of celebrity images or names to promote the business name, or to suggest that the celebrity is endorsing your business when that is not the reality. Celebrities tend to value their brands, and some go to great lengths to protect the use of their names and images. Therefore, a business that makes use of a celebrity’s right to publicity without permission can end up with a lawsuit on their hands.
If specific employees are assigned to the task of maintaining the business’s social media campaign, there should be a clear understanding of each employee’s role, limitations on what they can say under the business persona, and strict guidance on the use of the business’s confidential information. Without proper guidelines, employees may post stories or comments that could open the business up to liability from injured third parties for torts such as defamation.
Contact Us for Legal Guidance
Before you launch a social media campaign to promote your business, or on a more limited scope to promote a product or service, you should ensure that you have reviewed these and other potential issues with an experienced business attorney.
A skilled lawyer can offer you specific guidance on how to reach customers while protecting your business. For a consultation with an experienced DuPage County business law attorney, contact Momkus McCluskey Roberts, LLC today.