Social Media: Celebrities & Paid Endorsements

On Thursday, April 6, 2017, I had the privilege of participating and presenting, together with a panel of distinguished lawyers, on the subject of the legal issues, implications, challenges and opportunities resulting from the use of celebrities in social media to provide endorsements for products and services.  My partner, John Isaza, who heads the Records and Information Governance practice at Rimon Law, chaired the session sponsored by the Cyberlaw Committee.  The program was held in New Orleans as part of the ABA Business Law Section Spring Meeting and the other presenters and panelists were Adam Nadelhaft, a senior litigation associate in the Washington office of Winston & Strawn LLP and Valerie Surgenor, a partner in the Glasgow, Scotland, law firm MacRoberts LLP.

In addition to my presentation on the use of celebrities in social media for endorsements, marketing and promotional purposes, Adam reviewed the law relating to paid endorsements and ‘buying buzz’ on social media, whilst Valerie focused on the similarities and differences in approach taken by UK and EU law.

You can view and download a personal copy of the presentation in PDF form right here “2017.04.06 Keys to Celebrity & Paid Endorsements in Social Media – Presentation at ABA Spring Meeting.

As always, if you have questions or want more information, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, at Rimon Law.

 

 

FCC Drops ‘App’ Plan to Open Set-Top Boxes

–  Joe Rosenbaum

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under its new Chairman Ajit Pai, removed from its list of items for consideration, a proposal originally put forth by prior Chairman Tom Wheeler that would have allowed consumers to access pay-TV content on third-party devices.  Previous Chairman Wheeler’s original proposal took an “apps” based approach, but also included a licensing scheme that would require implementation of a standardized license for placing apps on such platforms or devices.

Critics, however, noted this particular proposal would actually have the opposite effect and more restrictively limit the choices available to consumers.  The original proposal also put the FCC in the position of acting as supervisory authority in order to ensure, in each case, that such a license wouldn’t harm competition.  Critics immediately raised concerns over the need for such intrusion by the FCC at all (some raised questions regarding the authority of the FCC to require or supervise such a licensing scheme), with many preferring to simply get rid of restrictions and limitations on access devices altogether.

While the FCC has removed the proposal from its list of items being considered for a vote, it remains on the Commission’s circulation list. Thus, the FCC’s action removes the proposal from immediate consideration, but doesn’t close the file officially – something over which industry groups remain concerned.   Their concerns continue to relate to the uncertainty of having a proposal still open for consideration, which, if resurrected, could pose problems for many in the industry, including distributors and content creators whose existing contracts might be in violation of such a new FCC requirement or policy.  Stay tuned.

FCC Opens Radio and Television Broadcasting to Foreign Entities

by Stephen Díaz Gavin

For more than 80 years, Section 310(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 has been interpreted as prohibiting direct foreign ownership of more than 20% and indirect ownership of 25% or more of US radio and television broadcast stations.  Effective January 31, 2017, this will change as the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has removed longstanding prohibitions against these limitations on foreign ownership, although it has preserved the right, on a case-by-case basis, to block a foreign acquisition of a broadcast license in excess of 25% (e.g., for reasons of national security).

Foreign entities, for quite some time, have already been permitted to acquire control over non-broadcast licenses (e.g., nationwide cell carrier T-Mobile is majority owned by Deutsche Telekom). But the FCC has steadfastly enforced its longstanding foreign ownership control policies over broadcast station licenses.  Most famously, Rupert Murdoch had to become a U.S. citizen before being able to acquire control over what we know today as Fox Broadcasting.

Changes adopted to the rules of the FCC will enable approval of up to and including 100% aggregate foreign beneficial ownership (voting and/or equity) by foreign investors in the controlling U.S. parent of a broadcast licensee, subject to certain conditions.  The revised rules, which newly define and in certain respects create different rules for “named” and “un-named” investors, they will allow a named foreign investor that acquires less than 100% to increase its controlling interest to 100% at some time in the future.  If a named foreign investor acquires a “noncontrolling” interest, that investor will now be permitted to increase its voting and/or equity interest up to and including a “noncontrolling” interest of 49.99% in the future, if it chooses to do so.

Although the FCC’s expansive “public interest standard” in approving sales and investments in broadcast licenses, coupled with input from other Executive government agencies, could significantly delay or block investments from some countries, the strong support of this initiative by the remaining Republican members of the FCC would tend to indicate the FCC will be disposed to allow most transactions to proceed to closing.  Indeed, the FCC has already signaled its willingness to do so, by approving just such a foreign ownership acquisition in a recent declaratory ruling issued even before the new rules take effect, ending a decades long back-and-forth haggling over Mexican ownership of Univision.

For more information regarding the new FCC rules or assistance in handling the regulatory and transactional aspects of such an investment, contact the author, Stephen Díaz Gavin, or Phil Quatrini or Sandy Sterrett, all partners at Rimon, P.C.

Of course, you can always contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, the Editor!

Legal Bytes – A New Beginning

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away……  oops, wrong beginning.

Welcome to the new Legal Bytes blog.  As many of you know, my Legal Bytes blog has been dormant after my recent transition to Rimon, P.C..  Getting set up, ensuring smooth transitions for clients, enhancing the look and feel of the blog has taken a longer than I hoped, but hopefully the bugs are out of the system and it’s now up to me to try my best to make the new Legal Bytes blog worth the wait.  For newcomers, buckle your seatbelts – this isn’t your ordinary legal blog!

What happened? Why does it matter? How does or could it affect you?  Inquiring minds always want to know and in the process of trying to answer those questions for you, I will always try to illuminate and perhaps also entertain you.   In the coming months I’ll entice you into regular readership, enlighten you with timely content, addict you with my trivia contests, entice you to keep in touch and most of all, try to help you better understand how developments in the law and regulation may affect you.

I intend to continue Light Bytes, with interesting quotes and sayings that pique my interest and hopefully yours.  Of course, there was never a question about my trivia contests. After all, who else but a lawyer could call it “Useless But Compelling Facts”?  We have once again made arrangements with the International Law Office (ILO) based in London. I am privileged to have been re-appointed as Editor and exclusive content coordinator for their U.S. Media, Marketing, Sports & Entertainment Newsletter.  Although there will be content you will see exclusively in the ILO newsletter, you may also see many of our Legal Bytes articles re-purposed and ‘internationalized’ in collaboration with much appreciated work of the ILO editorial staff.  I am again excited to be working with such a valued organization and truly great people – shout out to Carolyn Boyle, my Editorial contact.

Want to know what’s on my radar for the year ahead – I won’t spoil all the surprises, drone on about drones, nor will I keep my head in the clouds or the crowds.  I am fascinated by the legal implications of the Internet with Things (yes, I replaced ‘Of’ with “With”).  I’m also concerned about cybersecurity and data protection.   I am intrigued by the growing robustness of augmented reality, which means I don’t have to walk around with those funny goggles or a digital scuba mask to experience the virtual world.  Mobile technology is transforming our world – making digital content, e-commerce and communication available to billions of people that had previously never seen a television, had a bank account or used a telephone.  I would be remiss not to mention social media – maturing and increasingly commercialized – further blurring the distinctions between information, entertainment and advertising; between me as an individual and an employee; between me at play and at work; and between my trademarks and my reputation; and between my insatiable desire to tell the world and my seemingly paradoxical concern over my privacy!

It is a brave new world – so much to know and so much to keep up with.

So stay tuned, and as always, thank you for reading.

The Paradox of Illumination

I first heard about the paradox of illumination from Lee Loevinger, an extraordinary gentleman I was privileged to know professionally.  Lee was a multi-faceted, multi-talented, thought-provoking lawyer whose sage advice and stimulating ideas continue to resonate with those honored to have known him, and everyone else wise enough to read his work and the words he left behind.

In a nutshell, the paradox of illumination is extraordinarily complex, but simple to describe.  Much like Albert Einstein who, when asked about his theory of relativity and the notion that time is not constant, described it in personal terms: if a man is at dinner for 10 minutes with a beautiful woman, it seems like a fleeting instant; but sit on a burning hot stove for 10 minutes and it seems like an eternity :).

The paradox of illumination can similarly be described on a personal level.  Sit in completely dark room.  Really.  Completely dark.  What can you see?  Nothing.  You know little about your surroundings and can only sense your own body – in fact, you don’t even know how far your surroundings extend beyond your immediate sensations.

Now light a match.  The circle of illumination allows you to see a little of what is around you – but the perimeter and beyond are still dark.  Now light a candle.  The circle of what you can see illuminated by the light is larger than before, but the size of the perimeter beyond which you cannot see is also a lot larger than before.  The larger the light, the larger the area of illumination, but larger by far is the perimeter beyond which we know nothing.

The more we can see and the more we know and understand about the world around us, the larger the amount becomes that we don’t know.  In other words, as the circle of our knowledge grows, so does the amount of knowledge we cannot see and don’t know.  The paradox of illumination is the paradox of knowledge.  Perhaps that is why Michelangelo, when he was more than 87 years old, still said, “Ancora Imparo” (I am still learning).

I See Paris, I See France: Google’s Street View Draws French Fine

On December 20, 2010, a Legal Bytes blog entitled Look! Out the Window! It’s a Peeping Tom! No, It’s Google Street View noted the problems Google was facing as a result of a faux pas in connection with its Street View automobiles roaming the streets equipped with cameras. As we reported earlier, Google’s picture-capturing vehicles appear to have accidentally gathered data over unsecured Wi-Fi systems in more than one country and city around the globe – including France.

Although Google agreed to delete the Wi-Fi data collected accidentally and has apologized, if one picture is worth a thousand words, France has apparently decided that Google’s pictures were worth about €100,000. This is reportedly the highest fine imposed by the CNIL (the National Commission for Information Freedom – the French data-protection regulatory body) since it was given the authority to levy financial penalties in 2004. The financial sanctions were levied because Google’s activities were considered to be "unfair collection" of data under French law, data that Google was able to collect for economic advantage. The "accident" resulted from some "sniffing" programming code that ostensibly carelessly found its way into the equipment capturing Street View data in the cars as they roamed highways and byways.

While other countries are considering fines and investigations that are on-going, some countries (e.g., the United States) have apparently dropped the investigations or are not considering penalties at this time. This is not the last we will hear of location-based or geo-targeted information raising an uproar, as people "check in" and the surveillance society becomes closer to reality than we often care to admit. The law and regulation are not harmonized around the globe, and many regulators and laws don’t even adequately address the problem – often created because, like so many other issues in our digital world, some information is being shared voluntarily, some is not, and some is a blend.

As always, if you need advice and counsel about your own advertising and marketing efforts, or privacy and data protection guidance from legal representatives who deal with these issues – in the United States and around the globe – every day, feel free to call me, Joseph I. ("Joe") Rosenbaum, or any of the Rimon attorneys with whom you regularly work.

Pardon Me, Your Name is Showing (Perception or Reality?)

Before we moved online to a blog format, from 1996 through the end of 2008, Legal Bytes was published as a one-page, monthly newsletter. But even then we had Useless But Compelling Facts, a feature our readers tell us they like! That said, the threads of continuity continue to haunt us. Witness the following:

In March 2004, the Useless But Compelling Fact question asked how “The Doors” got its name. The answer was that Jim Morrison decided to call his band The Doors after reading The Doors of Perception (1954), a novel written by Aldous Huxley about his use of hallucinogens. Huxley was made famous by his 1932 novel, Brave New World.

Although Legal Bytes was not yet a blog back in 2008, we have digitized and uploaded Legal Bytes material from as far back as 2004! Why is this relevant? Because in 2008, Legal Bytes published a short article entitled "The Doors of Perception Can Sometimes Lead to Harsh Reality," about a false advertising case involving the use of Jim Morrison’s name, likeness or other distinctive characteristics, in advertising by a concert band that included two former members of the original The Doors. Now it seems that Jim Morrison’s fans, followers, administrative agencies and regulators continue to seem intent on protecting and restoring Mr. Morrison’s good name.

There is a joke that goes something like, “if you remember the 1960s, you probably weren’t there.” For those of you who do recall, you will remember Mr. Morrison was convicted of profanity and indecent exposure stemming from allegations he exposed himself during a concert at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami in 1969. At the time of his trial, other band members insisted he never actually exposed himself, but fans offered conflicting versions of what happened and he was ultimately convicted. That conviction was being appealed by Mr. Morrison at the time of his death in Paris in 1971.

Well a few days ago—more than 40 years from his conviction and at the request of outgoing Florida Governor Charlie Crist—the Clemency Board in Florida unanimously voted to pardon Mr. Morrison (posthumously) for his conviction. Rest in peace.

UK Sports Minister Proposes Changes to Gambling Legislation

This post was also written by Laura Hicks.

Last week, Gerry Sutcliffe, Minister for Sport in the United Kingdom, announced proposals to make significant changes to the existing legislative framework under which remote gambling is regulated. Following a review of the system of online gambling regulation in Great Britain by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, a consultation is being launched with a view to introducing laws requiring all online operators to apply for a license from the Gambling Commission in order to either advertise or provide gambling services to British consumers. According to the Minister for Sport, the proposed changes were “necessary to ensure the protections in the Gambling Act – to keep gambling crime free, to ensure gambling is fair and open, and to ensure that children and vulnerable people are protected from harm – continue to be afforded to British consumers.”

Under the proposals, a license will be required even if the gambling services are offered to British consumers using remote gambling equipment from outside Great Britain. Currently, only operators based and licensed in the UK are allowed to advertise in the UK, unless the country in which they are based is either a member state of the EEA or on the government’s “whitelist.” More information on the “whitelist” is available on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website, but to give you some insight, territories currently on the list are Antigua and Barbuda, Tasmania, the States of Alderney and the Isle of Man. “Whitelisting” is the process used by the UK Ministry to assess the regulatory framework for gambling in any jurisdictions outside the EEA that apply for permission to advertise their services within the UK.

As well as being obliged to share information about suspicious betting patterns with the UK’s sports governing bodies and the Gambling Commission, foreign operators would also have to comply with British license requirements concerning the protection of children and vulnerable people, and contribute to the research, education and treatment of problem gambling in the UK.

This appears to be a move by the UK government to close a loophole in the laws that protect online gamblers in the UK, and that more closely mirror the more protectionist regime in the United States. If this extension of the licensing regime is introduced into legislation, it will be interesting to see how the regulator intends to enforce the license scheme against gambling companies with no UK presence. In the United States, enforcement has involved a variety of “indirect” mechanisms, from the Department of Justice’s use of the Interstate Wire Act of 1951, which applies to sports betting to assert jurisdiction over online gaming – even though the Fifth Circuit ruled in 2002 that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting – to seizing advertising payments made to broadcast networks by advertisers seeking to promote online gambling considered illegal by the United States. Since 2006, with the enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), the United States has sought to seize assets in financial institutions tied to online gambling, based on what it considers illegal activity, money laundering and a variety of other offenses. It is noteworthy that UIGEA does not make online gambling illegal per se, but rather prohibits any transfer of funds from a financial institution (as defined in the legislation) to an illegal Internet gambling site.

Once you read the UK Sports Ministry’s announcement, if you need more information, contact Laura Hicks, an associate in the Media and Technology team, in our London office. Of course, you can always contact me, Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum in New York, or Gregor Pryor in London, or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work, if you need legal advice, information or support on this subject.

Happy New Year Wishes for 2010

Wishing you health, happiness, prosperity and peace in 2010

In a tradition that started almost 4,000 years ago by the ancient Babylonians – although they celebrated the new year upon seeing the first new moon after the vernal equinox – please enjoy a very happy, safe and joyous new year celebration.  Those of you who look forward to Useless But Compelling Facts can read more about the history of new year celebrations, or how the new year’s festivities, now televised around the world, began in New York’s Times Square.

New Year's Greetings
 
This is the first year we have published in a blog format, and with your feedback – mostly positive and always constructive – and more than 17,000 visitors in slightly less than 11 months, I am grateful and appreciative for your support.  Thank you for reading Legal Bytes.

–  Joe Rosenbaum

Anti-Social? I’ll Still Share Our Social Media Presentations

In case you weren’t able to attend any of our three seminars on Social Media, we’ll still let you get a glimpse of what you missed. First, you missed Joe Rosenbaum and Anthony Traymore in San Francisco and Palo Alto, and in Century City (L.A.), where we were joined by Kate O’Brien, where we presented: “Social Media: It’s 10:00 p.m. Do You Know Where Your Brand Is?”

If that alone didn’t make you sad, you also missed all the substantive insights and experiences that were shared, the audio-visual effects, the examples and live experience of our presenters and local hosts, as well as the hospitality of three of Rimon’s West Coast offices.

What you don’t have to miss is a copy (in PDF form) of the presentations – each of which had slight variations. You can see and download each by selecting the live link on each city below.

While the base presentations were much the same in all three places, in San Francisco we focused a bit more on social media in financial services and corporate securities law. In Silicon Valley (Palo Alto), we did a somewhat deeper dive into the implications of social media in online gaming and entertainment, and in Century City, we focused on user-generated content, open-forum platforms and competitive advertising.

While the results are still being tabulated, we do know that a significant number of our clients and guests received continuing legal education credit (CLE) for attending, in addition to a meal – worth the price of free admission anywhere. We haven’t looked at all the evaluations yet either, but no one fell asleep, everyone stayed through the closing credits and a rousing rendition of the Social Media Blues, and many of our attendees stayed for follow-up questions.

We also received a number of inquiries about the possibility of individual companies or groups hosting a Social Media seminar presented by Rimon, and we are happy to do so for yours – we are an accredited CLE provider in most jurisdictions, if that is important to the legal folks – but many have asked about presenting to senior executives, business development, marketing, media and other professionals as well.

Not only can we tailor a seminar to your particular company, your brands and/or your industry, but we have developed, and will continue to develop, modules and focused presentation materials regarding online gaming and virtual worlds; promotions (e.g., sweepstakes, contests, product placements, branded entertainment); advertising and marketing (e.g., testimonials, endorsements, buzz, viral and word-of-mouth); labor and employment; corporate policy, public relations and crisis management; financial services; media and entertainment, including motion pictures and machinima; pharmaceutical, health and life sciences; technology and e-commerce; digital rights management (e.g., user-generated content, hybrid media); privacy, data protection and security; target marketing, location-based and behavioral advertising; regulatory requirements – both government and SRO (e.g., FTC, FCC, CSPC, FDA, PCI compliance, FACTA, GLB, HIPAA); cloud computing, and so much more – and we haven’t even mentioned our international or global experience, expertise or resources in other jurisdictions around the world.

If you are interested, please contact me (Joseph I. Rosenbaum) and we can work with you to help you engage us in your social media conversation with topics that are relevant to you. We will also be updating the research work already released in our Social Media White Paper with some of the materials and further work we continue to do in this area. Stay tuned – social media is not a fad.