Editor’s Note: This is the fourth part of a 4-part series on social media law: protecting the ownership of your social media accounts (for both employers and employees).
Over the course of this week, we’ve looked at a 2011 case, PhoneDog vs. Kravitz, where a company sued a former employee for that employee’s Twitter account, used to solicit to clients and prospective clients, for the amount of $340,000. We’ve called upon Judith Delaney, an attorney who specializes in social media law and online privacy laws, to answered the following questions (click on each question to be taken to its answer):
- Do companies have a legal right to do this? Under what circumstances does the company have the right to claim the account if it was always owned solely by the employee, even if it was at the brand’s request?
- Under what circumstances is it just too bad for the company, meaning they have no say or rights in the matter?
- Does it require a signed policy/agreement at the opening of the account, and if so, what is legally allowed to be included within this policy/agreement?
And today, the final question remains…
Answering question #4
Q: Do these laws differ from state to state and from country to country?
United States: Currently adjudication of these lawsuits is at the state level. Therefore the final ruling, if any, would most likely vary from state to state. This is why it is important for employers to be careful of what they draft in the agreement(s) and/or policies discussed here and here, as limiting an employee’s use of their social media accounts may be in violation of other state laws. (For an example of some of these “other state laws”, click here)
International: As of this writing, each country has its own (or not) process to adjudicate the subject matter even down to local law, so for the practicality of it, the answer is yes, it varies from county to country!
Concluding this week’s social media law series
I hope that you have found this week’s blog series as interesting and informative as I have. A big, warm and humongous thank you goes out to the fabulous Judith Delaney for providing us with this invaluable information and a wider understanding of the ever-forming laws around social media. If you’d like to learn more from Judith, you can visit this page, which sums up all the awesome content she provides to this blog, as well as check out her own blog: Minimizing Social Media Legal Risk.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided only as general information and may or may not reflect the most current developments legal or otherwise pertaining to the subject matter thereof. Accordingly, this information is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete, and is not intended to create, or constitute formation of an attorney-client relationship. The author expressly disclaims all liability in law or otherwise with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the content of this article.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.
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