The 59th Social Media Breakfast – “Legal Aspects of Social Media”– The Delhi Chapter

“Lets get legal” was the mantra for the 59th Session of SMBTS, at Sagar Ratna, and it was a highly knowledge gaining session! With Vishwa Ranjan, our legal wizard coming over for the Breakfast with the MeetUp group, the session felt blessed with knowledge! The Social Media Breakfasts, are sponsored by, a Compare Infobase Limited project.

Members who present for the MeetUp were Kaushik, Komal, Gaurav, Priya, Neha, Puneet, Maryann, and Daman ji.

Vishwa Ranjan explaining the legal aspects

Social Media is very well part of personal and professional lives these days. The viral effect of Social Media increases the risk of getting into legal implications. In Social Media one has to look for the following legal aspects:

*     Copyright

*     Trademark

*      Privacy

*      Intellectual property loss

*      Defamation

Understanding the terms:

Copyright: A set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work.

Trademark: A distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.

Privacy: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, or to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Intellectual property: A term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law. Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs.

Defamation: Also called calumny, vilification, traducement, slander and libel is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image.

(Reference : Wikipedia)

Following points were of great relevance during the course of discussion

  • Copyright laws differ from country to country. In Indian context an author or creator can enjoy the copyrights of his work for his lifetime. After his death the rights get passed on to the legal heirs for the next 60 years. The work after those 60 years become a public property. License has to be obtained thereafter to use the work from copyright licensing firms. Copyrights issue can become critical in the context of sales and commercial gains.
  • Social Media is all about sharing. So it is advisable to be sure of what one is sharing on Social Media. The viral effect of Social Media can be lethal if wrong information is being circulated.
  • Be sure of what content one shares from others’ profiles. A avoid sharing material prior to obtaining permission from the source.
  • Usage of content or matter as reference or for educational and knowledge gaining purpose becomes “Fair use” of the content and is free of legal clutches.
  • Stop encouraging others who post content from unknown sources.
  • All online content posted becomes copyrighted automatically.
  • Very often if there is a bad experience, it is a habit to share it on Social Media these days. Before doing so, efforts must be taken to discuss the same with the concerned person / company regarding the bad experience. It can mount to defamation. There is a very thin line that demarcates opinion from defamation.
  • Sharing of hyperlinks of websites is free from copyright infringement. Hence the safest means to share content.
  • Use trademarks only with permission and be sure when it is used in a commercial context, like products or services, sponsorships, campaigns, endorsements etc.
  • Respect privacy: Each individual has the right to privacy. Limit what you share on Social Media. Once it is on Social Media there is always a risk data getting leaked. Be sure before tagging anyone on social networks like Facebook. Do it only with the permission.
  • In the case of corporate profiles it is always better to have an in house person in the company to monitor to the Social Media Services.
  • Company / Individuals can consider registration of any new content, trademarks, domain names, or methods created with respect to social media, in order to keep from being copied and diluted. They must monitor the usage of the same. A ™, ® or © symbol can be used to show it is protected.

The 59th Session of Social Media Breakfast revealed the legal side of Social Media. The session enlightened enthusiasts about what they need to be cautious about while sharing information on Social Media. So all the Social Media enthusiasts, play safe!

Priya Chandrakanth
Corporate Communications Executive
Compare Infobase Limited

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