Online Endorsements, Testimonials and Reviews Fake? Really?

Online ratings got you perplexed? Seems like someone forgot to put “user ratings” on the list of reality shows. Well maybe, just maybe, those user ratings aren’t really “user” or “ratings” at all. What should you consider?

Well, on October 23, 2009, Joe Rosenbaum was interviewed by Sally Herships for Marketplace Money, a regular feature of Public Radio. If you missed it on the air, you can now listen to the audio, read a transcript of the interview, download an MP3, or subscribe to the podcast, by checking out the interview at: “Don’t let online reviews fake you out.”

Legal implications abound—for website operators and ratings’ services that enable users to post reviews and content, as well as for anyone posting fake reviews or failing to disclose a material connection to the advertiser, its brands or products. So go listen and then come back if and when you need legal support. Contact Joe Rosenbaum, or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.

Déjà vu All Over Again: Online Behavioral Advertising

Just catching up with continuing efforts to educate the legal community on the implications of digital behavioral advertising and the importance of the industry self-regulatory efforts, as well as the dangers of legislation and regulation arising from insufficient or inaccurate information. In November of last year, Cyberspace Lawyer [Volume 14, Issue 10; November 2009], published “Advertising Industry Collaboration Releases Self-Regulatory Online Behavioral Advertising Principles,” written by Joseph I. Rosenbaum.

The article follows the release, by the major advertising industry associations, of Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, and Legal Bytes had numerous blog postings summarizing the individual principles, as well as an overview (see Self-Regulatory Online Behavioral Advertising Principle No. 7: Accountability that will link you to the others; or simply search “social media” in the keyword search box in the navigation column on the left side of the web page). The Cyberspace Lawyer article consolidates and integrates these summaries into a single article that you can read in that issue, or you can download the article here: “Advertising Industry Collaboration Releases Self-Regulatory Online Behavioral Advertising Principles” [PDF].

Joe Rosenbaum, who edits and publishes Legal Bytes, is general counsel of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), one of the major industry associations that participated in the development and release of the actual principles. Behavioral advertising can be viewed as another aspect of the social media phenomenon sweeping the digital world, and if you want (or need) to know more, you should know that Rimon’s Advertising Technology & Media Law Group can help with integrated experience and legal skills, both nationally and internationally. Let us know if we can help you.

Isn’t Technology Supposed to Help Us? Help Us Work Smarter?

If you have been reading Legal Bytes regularly, you know that Lois Thomson here at Rimon has been one of the primary people supporting my efforts to transform "legal-ese" into understandable English – no trivial task for those of you who are interacting or have ever interacted with lawyers. So it is with great joy that I was not only able to have her write a post for Legal Bytes, but that I also finally got to edit her article. Hopefully she will smile and agree it’s been helpful. So, Lois, thank you, and here is your relevant and very timely note for all the world to see:

"I looked at an email I received from my friend, Robert, and wondered why the subject line was a reply regarding an issue of Legal Bytes that I had proofread for Joe Rosenbaum. ‘Are you aware that you have been sending these to me?’ Robert’s message read. ‘It seems like that might have been a mistake.’

"Ouch! A mistake indeed! You see, when Joe sends his documents to me to review, I proof them and make my suggested changes. I then simply hit the forward button to return them to him. Now as many of you email-program (e.g., Outlook) users already know, to make life easier (that’s ostensibly what technology is supposed to do), once I start to type in "ro," Rosenbaum, Joseph I.’s name should automatically populate the ‘To’ field. Oops. Not this time. Instead, my friend Robert’s name came up, and without looking – as I’m guessing so many of us routinely do – I hit enter and sent it off, pleased I had been so timely and responsive. Unfortunately, I was responding to my friend Robert, who may happily read Legal Bytes, but not, I suspect, the artist’s proof!

"Fortunately, Joe and Robert were gracious about the whole thing and in this case, both felt no harm was done. But what if the message had been from your lawyer or doctor or a rabbi or priest, or was some other communication that was not ultimately meant for public consumption. It was a simple but powerful reminder to me (and one that Joe felt was important enough to ask me to pass it on to you), that while automated tools can make routine tasks like ‘field completion’ simpler, they can also lead to problems if we rely on them without thinking. Hmmmm, now why can’t I remember phone numbers anymore – is it because they are all programmed into every device I own, so that I no longer have to think?"

A helpful reminder that while automated tools are great, they are just that – tools. If we aren’t careful, the tools can work against us and not for us, and can create embarrassment at best, liability at worst. Thank you Lois (and Robert).

Need to know more? Contact me, Joseph I. Rosenbaum, or any Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work. Need proofreading skills? If you don’t work for Rimon, don’t call Lois. She’s busy helping us every day. Thanks again, Lois.

Social Media Risks and Rewards

On February 18, 2010, the International Law Office (ILO) published an article authored by Gregor Pryor and Sachin Premnath in the London office of Rimon, and Joe Rosenbaum in New York. It discusses the benefits and pitfalls of social media, and raises issues and concerns applicable to global companies—not just those on either side of the pond!

The article was derived from one published in Legal Week, and you can download your own PDF copy of “Commercial risks and rewards of the social media phenomenon” right here.

Are There Clouds in Your Future?

Check out MediaPost’s SearchBlog yesterday (A Dream Cloud Computes The Future), which recounts the conversation Joe Rosenbaum had with reporter and blogger Laurie Sullivan about the future of cloud computing. Need to know more about the legal implications and issues? Call Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.

Social Media Could Get You Fired? Really? Well, Yes. Really.

If you aren’t careful, social media can hurt in the workplace, too. While recruiters, college and university admissions counselors, and many others have used profiles, postings, YouTube videos, and other social media platforms to gather information about candidates and prospects—corporations that are now increasingly monitoring their own presence, mentions, and brands in social media are discovering that employees—at work and outside the workplace—can be outstanding goodwill ambassadors, or may be saying a bit too much. In an interview with Laurie Sullivan, reporting in MediaPost News, Online Media Daily describes how Twitter And Facebook Could Get You Fired—because the same rules apply online as offline, but online are magnified by technology. Read the article, and when your company needs to develop a policy or understand how to optimize the benefits and minimize the legal risks, call me, Joe Rosenbaum; or Douglas J. Wood or Stacy Marcus, key lawyers in our Social Media Task Force; or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work.

Social Media Risks and Rewards

In the wake of our release and distribution of the Rimon Social Media Task Force’s groundbreaking white paper entitled “Network Interference: A Legal Guide to the Commercial Risks and Rewards of the Social Media Phenomenon,” Practical Law Publishing has published a summary, prepared by The Social Media Task Force at Rimon, available here and entitled, Social Media Risks and Rewards. The published article represents a condensation of the entire white paper, previously announced in Legal Bytes, and which you can still download in its entirety.

As we mentioned, we will be adding, supplementing and updating these materials with even more chapters and new information, and we will soon be launching a special web page dedicated to the evolving social media legal landscape. If you need help navigating this environment, bear in mind that Rimon has a Social Media Task Force – a team of lawyers who have experience, and can advise and guide you as the medium and media evolves. Contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or Douglas J. Wood, Stacy Marcus, or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work. How can we help you?

Rosenbaum on

Joe Rosenbaum was featured on in the Small Business section in connection with a question about an individual cardholder’s liability for business-related charges on a business/corporate card issued while the individual was an employee.

For the answer, you’ll have to read the entire blog post on CNNMoney Small Business Q&A. Of course you can always contact Joe for the answer.