Chapter 4 of the book Social Media and the Law discusses intellectual property & the issues that arise when working in an online medium like social media. We'll tackle this chapter in sections.
Copyright is ownership rights given to those who produce creative expression be it text, photos, videos, music, software, etc. One of my favorite quotes from the chapter is, "While the billions of pieces of content copied and distributed on sites...may make it impossible for copyright owners to enforce their rights, those rights are not forfeited."
What type of online content is copyrighted?
While short phrases or expressions such as tweets are not protected under the copyright laws, material like photos and videos definitely are. It is possible for tweet-like posts to become copyrighted in the event that they are arranged in a manner of order. The example Olson gives is the book Sh*t My Dad Says. This book is made up of a collection of tweets from the popular Twitter account, and therefore these tweets are now copyrighted material.
Social media sites are now somehow (with restraint) valuable news sources! WHAT? Despite the fact that a new celebrity/public figure seems to die randomly throughout the year, social media sites are now being used as sources for news sites. Hot news is news that seems to break out online through social contexts before "reputable" sources release such information. But news sources seem to be embracing hot news in that it's not uncommon to turn on the news and see a feed live from Twitter scrolling across the bottom.
An important thing to note with hot news is that you (most likely) will not be punished for live tweeting events or breaking important news to your followers before they have a chance to see in from say, CSNBC, unless, of course, you're a competing news source purposely releasing news before your competitors can.
Trademarks are distinct words, phrases, symbols, or designs, or combinations of such things that identify or distinguish a source of goods. We run into issues with trademarks most commonly on Twitter with parody accounts. Twitter allows you to sign up under any name as long as you are not attempting to "mislead or deceive" your audience and are clearly representing that you're a parody account.
How does that famous quote go, "Impersonation is the highest form of flattery?" Right? Celebrity impersonation accounts are some of the most well-known accounts on Twitter and they've caused quite a fuss over the years. While some simply do not care, others care enough to sue. Using someone's likeness can be a risky task as some can't laugh at themselves.Because of different impersonation cases, Twitter has since instated it's verification policy and California has even passed an "e-personation" law preventing online impersonation.