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Socially Aware Blog

The Law and Business of Social Media

Social Media 2015: Addressing Corporate Risks

Posted in Event, FTC, Privacy, Terms of Use

Social media is transforming the way companies interact with consumers. Learn how to make the most of these online opportunities while minimizing your company’s risk at Practicing Law Institute’s (PLI) 2015 Social Media conference, chaired by Socially Aware editor John Delaney.

This year’s program features speakers from American Express, BuzzFeed, Dell, and Foursquare. There will also be a “Meet the Regulators” panel discussion featuring representatives from FINRA, the FTC, and the New York State Attorney General’s Office. And the conference will conclude with a networking reception.

Join us for the conference in New York on February 25th. For more information or to register, please visit PLI’s website here.

Status Updates

Posted in Status Updates

Social media for minimalists. These days, the information flooding the news feeds on some social media platforms can feel overwhelming and redundant. Take Twitter, for example—a medium whose popularity has resulted in a user experience that technology futurist Nova Spivack compares to “a crowded room where everyone is shouting.” Explaining his theory behind the decline in Twitter’s user engagement, Spivack says that, for that platform’s users, the only solution to the avalanche of information “is to ignore it all. And that is what most people seem to be doing.” Enter This., a new social media platform seemingly designed to head off the very problem vexing today’s Twitter users. In the words of its creator, Andrew Golis, This. compels its users “to be spare and judicious in what they suggest others listen to, read and watch” by allowing them to post only one link a day. This. users can click on as many links posted by others as they’d like, however, and can express their appreciation for the content at those links by clicking “Thanks,” This.’s version of Twitter’s “Favorite” button. On weeknights, Golis sends This. members a newsletter highlighting the five stories he considers to be the crème de la crème. For now, membership is relatively exclusive; to join This., one must get an invitation from one of its 4,500 current users.

Keeping score. Super Bowl XLIX scored a touchdown on social media, according the U.S. news outlets. The game broke records for U.S. sports events on both Facebook and Twitter, where it generated 265 million likes, posts and comments, and 28 million global tweets, respectively. Malcom Butler’s interception of Russell Wilson’s pass alone generated 395,000 tweets per minute, more than any other moment during the game. But, while those numbers are impressive, the 2014 World Cup caused significantly more social media buzz. Having generated 35.6 million tweets during the game, Brazil’s 7-1 defeat by Germany in the semi-finals still holds the record for the most tweeted-about sports event in history. And the 2014 World Cup final, which resulted in 618,725 tweets per minute, is still the winner in the tweets-per-minute category. The Facebook numbers are equally impressive: “By the end of the World Cup, social engagement on Facebook pushed the overall figure to three billion interactions, involving 350 million people,” the BBC reported.

Big plans. Pinterest’s active user base grew in 2014 by 97%, more than any other social media platform. Now, the social bookmarking site is taking steps to monetize its impressive metrics by making itself more attractive to advertisers, who, so far, have only been able to target their ads based on basic information like Pinterest users’ locations, genders, and categories of interest. Beginning sometime this year, the company will leverage its unique ability to cull information about pinners’ future plans and purchases—intelligence that Pinterest’s head of operations, Don Faul, calls “intent data”—by providing advertisers with information about its users’ activities on the site. The content generated by the users of social media platforms like Facebook tends to concern the past, both recent and distant: pictures of a family’s winter holiday, for example, or vintage “throwback Thursday” photos of their 16-year-old daughter’s first birthday party. Social media enthusiasts most often use Pinterest, on the other hand, to keep track of what they want their futures to look like: goods they hope to acquire, designs they intend to replicate, destinations they hope to visit, and recipes they plan to prepare. That information is obviously infinitely valuable to marketers, and may help Pinterest to someday live up to its astronomical valuation.

Status Updates

Posted in Status Updates

Social work. Enterprise social media platforms – i.e., Facebook-like platforms used by companies to facilitate communication and collaboration among their employees – are incredibly popular these days; by some estimates, it has grown into a $2.3 billion market. But why settle for a Facebook-like platform when you can get the real thing? Well, now you can. The Silicon Valley company has begun pilot testing “Facebook at Work,” a new product that will allow a company’s employees to interact with one another in very much the same way they interact with their friends on the Facebook.com site.  Once a company signs up for Facebook at Work, all of its employees are automatically members of the same network (there’s no “friending” required). Among other things, users will be able to determine exactly which of their often far-flung colleagues can help them by searching their co-workers’ profiles for specialties. There are currently a lot of other products in the enterprise social media space; Microsoft’s Yammer is among the most popular. TechCrunch notes that Facebook might be able to set itself apart in the enterprise collaboration arena by having the most relevant newsfeed; it stands to reason that the company that’s spent several years on an algorithm that predicts and prioritizes what people actually want to see would do a good job of keeping a business’s news feed focused. The Facebook at Work app is currently available in the iOS App Store, but only for employees of companies that have signed up and, for now, those companies are limited to the few businesses around the world that are participating in Facebook at Work’s beta testing. The service is currently free, but—like other enterprise-collaboration-tool providers—Facebook likely will eventually charge users a subscription fee.

Tiny tales. Short videos featured on the messaging app Snapchat, known as Snapchat Stories, are the future of social media, at least according to Casey Neistat, a YouTube filmmaker with more than 480,000 subscribers. Neistat attributes what he says has been the unprecedented response to his Snapchat Stories to two things: (1) the fact that the app requires viewers to keep a finger pressed down on the screen in order to view content, therefore ensuring viewers’ undivided attention; and (2) the freedom that the app instills in its users as a result of its disappearing content. Since the videos posted on Snapchat last only 24 hours, there’s no time for an online army of critics to assemble and the content can’t haunt its creator for eternity. Snapchat Stories creators therefore tend to be more willing to take risks, and the viewers of those videos are treated to less edited, more realistic, content than what’s typically available on social media.

Hair razing research. The folks behind the matchmaking app Tinder have tapped into an unlikely source of potential revenue: research. In exchange for compensation, the online dating company agreed to facilitate experiments intended to help the razor-brand Gillette prove that women prefer clean-shaven men to scruffy or bearded ones. Analysis of the responses received by 100,000 male Tinder users supposedly showed that twice as many women preferred the “groomed” to the “grungy” (the clean-shaven guys got 74% more “right swipes”; swiping a photo to the right on Tinder is a user’s way of signaling that he or she approves of it). Gillette then publicized the results by posting them to a web site and touting them in a YouTube video. Tinder is extremely popular among college students, but it apparently has yet to bring in money. Its parent company, IAC/InterActiveCorp, has said that it intends to eventually profit from the online dating giant, which one Internet analyst reportedly expects to have as many as 20 million daily active users by the end of this year. Tinder’s partnership with Gillette may be a sign of deals to come. The company has experimented with promotional tie-ins before. It recently featured fake profiles for characters on Fox network’s “The Mindy Project.”

Hot Off the Press: The January-February Issue of Our Socially Aware Newsletter Is Now Available

Posted in Cloud Computing, FTC, Infographic, Litigation, Wearable Computers

The latest issue of our Socially Aware newsletter is now available here.

In this issue of Socially Aware, our Burton Award-winning guide to the law and business of social media, we discuss key–and often ignored–legal concerns regarding social media assets in M&A transactions; we explore whether anti-Glass hysteria may have doomed Google Glass; we highlight a landmark case finding that parents can be held liable for their child’s online activities (yikes!); we take a look at the FTC’s latest crackdown on social media advertising; and we drill down on cloud services agreements.

All this—plus an infographic roundup of social media’s “greatest” hits in 2014.

Read our newsletter.

EU Copyright: No Resale of Digital Content Except for Software?

Posted in IP

How Does the European Court of Justice Decision on Exhaustion of the Distribution Right upon First Sale Impact the Resale of Digital Copies?

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has decided that the rule of exhaustion of the distribution right upon first sale (in the U.S. known as the “first sale” doctrine) does not apply to post first-sale alterations to the physical medium embodying the work if such alterations constitute a new reproduction of the work (here: the transfer of a painting from paper poster onto a canvas). Consequently, such subsequent alterations require the consent of the owner of the reproduction right to the work.

The ECJ expressly states that exhaustion of the distribution right upon first sale under the EU Copyright Directive applies to the tangible object into which a protected work is incorporated. Thus, the first sale of intangible digital copies of works will likely not exhaust the distribution right to such copies. This means that the resale of digital music, film, and e-book files duly purchased by way of download from the Internet will likely be considered as copyright infringement if not authorized by the copyright holders.


When buying a video on a DVD, a hardcover book or an art painting in the EU that was first sold in the EU with the consent of the copyright holder of such work, one can resell such DVD, book, or painting to any other person in the EU later on. The reseller does not need the copyright holder’s consent for such resale. This is possible because Art. 4 (2) of the EU Copyright Directive sets forth that the first sale in the EU of a copy, or of the original, of a copyrighted work by the copyright holder or with his/her consent causes exhaustion of the distribution right of the copyright holder. The copyright holder can neither prohibit such resale nor ask the reseller or purchaser to pay additional compensation.


In the case, Allposters, a Dutch company, bought art posters depicting copyrighted paintings of famous artists that were sold in the EU with the consent of the respective copyright holders. Allposters transferred the image of the painting from the purchased paper poster onto a canvas by a chemical process so that the image no longer appeared on the paper poster but only on the canvas. Thus, there was still only one reproduction of the painting – only that it was on a canvas medium instead of on the original paper poster. The image of the painting itself was not altered. The canvases looked much better and bore a much closer resemblance to the original painting than the paper posters did, and Allposters offered such canvases for sale on its websites. Allposters argued that (i) alterations made to a sold copy after the distribution right to such copy was exhausted had no impact on the previous exhaustion and (ii) the transfer of the image from paper to canvas did not constitute a reproduction of the work, as the image was not duplicated.


In its decision of January, 22, 2015, the EJC states that the exhaustion of the distribution right applies to the physical medium in which the work is embodied (here: the paper poster) and that alterations of the physical medium which result in a new object (here: the replacement of a paper poster by a canvas) constitutes a new reproduction of the work – which requires the authorization of the holder of the reproduction right. The ECJ therefore decides that “the rule of exhaustion of the distribution right… does not apply in a situation where a reproduction of a protected work, after having been marketed in the European Union with the copyright holder’s consent, has undergone an alteration of its medium, such as the transfer of that reproduction from a paper poster onto a canvas, and is placed on the market again in its new form.” (http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document)


The, perhaps, even more interesting aspect of this ECJ judgment is its likely impact on the resale of digital copies of copyrighted works purchased by way of download from the Internet:

In the UsedSoft Judgment of July 3, 2012 (see http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document), the ECJ decided that the first sale of an intangible copy of a computer program by way of download from the Internet onto a buyer’s device with the copyright holder’s consent causes exhaustion of the distribution right to such copy. As a consequence, the buyer of such intangible copy can resell such “used” copy to third parties without the copyright holder’s consent. However, this judgment was based on the interpretation of the EU Directive on the protection of computer programs (Directive 2009/24/EC) and not on the Copyright Directive.

In the Allposters decision, the ECJ clearly states that “exhaustion of the distribution right applies to the tangible object into which a protected work or its copy is incorporated.” For this purpose, it explicitly relies on (i) the wording of recital 28 of the Copyright Directive, according to which copyright “protection under this Directive includes the exclusive right to control distribution of the work incorporated in a tangible article” and (ii) the agreed statement concerning Articles 6 and 7 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (1996), according to which “the expressions ‘copies’ and ‘original and copies’ being subject to the right of distribution … refer exclusively to fixed copies that can be put into circulation as tangible objects.” In the Allposters case, the ECJ applies precisely those arguments that it had previously rejected as not being applicable in the UsedSoft case. Considering this argumentation, it would appear to be difficult for the ECJ in future cases to turn around and decide that exhaustion of the distribution right under the Copyright Directive also applies to the first sale of intangible digital copies.

Therefore, the underlying arguments of the ECJ in the Allposters case are a strong indication that with regard to literary and artistic works other than software (e.g., music, literature, film, art), the ECJ will likely not apply the rule of exhaustion of the distribution right to the first sale of intangible digital copies of such works by way of download from the Internet (e.g., music, film and e-book files). This would mean that, except for the resale of downloaded software copies, the resale of downloaded copies of such works will continue to require the consent of the copyright holder in each case.


The ECJ did not rule on the impact of subsequent alterations of sold physical copies of a work which did not qualify as new reproductions of that work. As regards alterations of a copyrighted work itself, one has to look at the applicable national copyright law of the EU countries, because the exclusive right of authors to authorize adaptations, arrangements and other alterations of their works is not granted by the EU Copyright Directive, but by Article 12 of the Berne Convention as implemented into national law of those countries which are party to this multilateral copyright treaty (including all EU Member States). This alteration right to the work is not impacted by the exhaustion of the distribution right upon first sale. This means that subsequent alterations of the sold work itself require the copyright holder’s consent (e.g. changing a painting of an artist after purchase). However, depending on the national copyright law of the respective country, the mere alteration of the sold physical medium embodying the work can also be qualified as an alteration of the work itself, if such alteration puts the work into a different context, e.g., if the purchaser of a painting changes its frame to a very different frame containing patterns or images that modifies the context of the work (so decided by the German Federal Supreme Court in 2002, I ZR 304/99)

FTC Issues Landmark Report on Internet of Things

Posted in FTC, Internet of Things

The FTC has released its much anticipated report on the Internet of Things (“IoT”) – a topic that has been top-of-mind for many companies. The FTC’s report, “Internet of Things: Privacy & Security in a Connected World” (the “Report”), discusses the benefits and risks associated with IoT, and addresses the privacy and data security measures the FTC recommends for consumer-facing IoT products and services [The FTC’s discussion of IoT within the report, consistent with the FTC’s jurisdiction, is limited to such devices that are sold to or used by consumers, and not devices sold in a business-to-business context or broader machine-to-machine communications]. While the Report is not legally binding, it provides a strong and valuable indication of the positions that the FTC may take in enforcement actions related to IoT.


According to the FTC, IoT refers to “‘things’ such as devices or sensors – other than computers, smartphones, or tablets – that connect, communicate or transmit information with or between each other through the Internet.”


The Report acknowledges that Internet-connected devices offer numerous benefits, many of which remain untapped. In the health arena, connected medical devices allow patients to more efficiently communicate with their physicians to manage their medical conditions. In the home, smart meters enable energy providers to analyze consumer energy use, identify issues with home appliances, and enable consumers to be more energy-conscious. On the road, sensors on a car can notify drivers of dangerous road conditions, and software updates can occur wirelessly. And these applications are just the beginning.

On the flip side, however, the FTC cautions that IoT may present a variety of potential security vulnerabilities that could be exploited to harm consumers. First, as with computers, a lack of security could enable unauthorized access and misuse of personal information. This risk is heightened in the IoT world by the plethora of devices to be connected and secured. Second, security vulnerabilities in a particular device may facilitate attacks on the consumer’s network to which it is connected, or enable attacks on other systems. Third, the FTC notes that IoT may present a heightened risk of harm to personal safety. For example, the Report describes an account of how it may be possible to hack remotely into a connected medical device and change its settings, impeding its therapeutic function.

According to the FTC, these risks are exacerbated by the fact that companies entering the IoT market may not have experience in dealing with security issues, or may be creating inexpensive devices for which it may be difficult or impossible to apply a patch for a security bug.


In light of these increased risks, the FTC asserts that “inadequate security presents the greatest risk of actual consumer harm in the Internet of Things.” As such, it recommends that companies focus on security when developing connected devices. The FTC acknowledged that what constitutes reasonable security for a given device will depend on a number of factors, including the amount and sensitivity of data collected, and the costs of remedying the security vulnerabilities. However, the staff did offer approaches that it encourages companies to adopt when developing their products:

  • Building security into their devices at the outset, by conducting an initial privacy or security risk assessment, considering how to minimize the data collected and retained, and testing security measures before launching the product.
  • Training all employees about good security, and ensuring that security issues are addressed at the appropriate level of responsibility within the organization.
  • Retaining service providers that are capable of maintaining reasonable security and providing reasonable oversight.
  • Implementing a defense-in-depth approach for systems that involve significant risks, considering security measures at several levels.
  • Imposing reasonable access control measures to limit the ability of an unauthorized person to access a consumer’s device, data, or network.
  • Continuing to monitor products throughout the life cycle and, to the extent possible, patch known vulnerabilities.

In sum, devices that collect sensitive information, present physical security or safety risks (such as door locks, ovens, or medical devices), or connect to other devices or networks in a manner that would enable unauthorized access to those devices, may require heightened consideration of security measures.


The Report emphasizes the FTC’s view that companies should reasonably limit their collection and retention of consumer data, including in the IoT context. The FTC believes that these practices, known as data minimization, will help guard against two privacy-related risks: first, larger data stores present a more attractive target for data thieves; and second, if a company collects and retains large amounts of data, there is an increased risk that the data will be used in a way that departs from consumers’ reasonable expectations.

At the same time, the Report acknowledges concerns that data minimization requirements may curtail innovative uses of data. Accordingly, the FTC proposes a “flexible” approach to data minimization that gives companies a variety of options: they can decide not to collect data at all, collect only the fields of data necessary to the product or service being offered, collect data that is less sensitive, or de-identify the data they collect. The FTC also suggests that if none of these options work, a company can seek consumers’ consent for collecting additional, unexpected data.


The FTC acknowledges that notifying consumers of privacy principles and offering them a way to meaningfully choose privacy settings may be more difficult in the context of connected devices, which may not have a screen with which to communicate with consumers. However, the report makes clear that the FTC does not believe it will be sufficient for IoT companies to simply have a privacy policy available on their website, and expect consumers to find that policy. Rather, the FTC recommends that a company find ways to present meaningful privacy notices and choices to the consumer, including in the set-up or purchase of the product itself. The Report suggests creative solutions to this issue, including:

  • Offering video tutorials to guide consumers through privacy settings.
  • Affixing a QR code that, when scanned, would take the consumer to a website with information about privacy practices.
  • Offering a set-up wizard that provides information about privacy practices.
  • Allowing users to configure devices, such as home appliances, so that they receive information through emails or texts.
  • Creating a user experience “hub” that stores data locally and learns a consumer’s privacy preferences based on prior behavior.

Companies may also want to consider using a combination of approaches. Of course, whatever approach a company decides to take, the FTC expects the privacy choices to be clear and prominent, and not buried within lengthy documents.


Last but not least, the FTC reiterated its recommendation for Congress to enact strong, flexible, and technology-neutral legislation to strengthen the Commission’s existing data security enforcement tools, and require companies to notify consumers when there is a security breach.


As the FTC describes, “in the future, the Internet of Things is likely to meld the virtual and physical worlds together in ways that are currently difficult to comprehend.” As a result, companies should consider guidance offered by the FTC and other regulators, and evaluate what steps they can take to mitigate those risks in the privacy and data security context.

Status Updates

Posted in Status Updates

Snap decision. The National Arbitration Forum has refused to transfer the domain name snapchatcheck.com to the company behind the popular messaging app Snapchat. The NAF panel decided that the respondent, Dreamhost, the company holding the domain name, was making “a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of” snapchatcheck.com by using it as the web address of a site that allows users to determine whether their data was leaked when Snapchat suffered a data breach. Dreamhost’s web site at snapchatcheck.com is apparently one of several web sites that sprang up in response to the 2014 posting of millions of Snapchat users’ usernames and phone numbers by anonymous hackers. After reviewing the snapchatcheck.com web site, the NAF panel also determined that Dreamhost was not trying to pass the site off as being owned and operated by Snapchat itself.

Contacts list confidentiality. A bill recently introduced in Connecticut would limit how often social media sites can ask a user to furnish access to his or her contact list in order to send those contacts unsolicited marketing messages. The first of its kind, the proposed law is being sponsored by Republican  Rep. Mitch Bolinsky and has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing. The measure would reportedly employ a system similar to a “no call” or “no contact” list.

Leveraging LinkedIn. With 187 million unique visitors a month, LinkedIn is a social media powerhouse, but many people still think of it primarily as a networking tool. Actually, it’s already gotten a significant foothold in the content arena. Ninety-six percent of the marketers who responded to a recent survey said they use LinkedIn for content marketing. That’s more than any other social media site (only 89% of the respondents said they use Twitter for content marketing purposes). LinkedIn expert Lewis Howes told Fortune that marketers can make the most of LinkedIn’s potential as a publishing platform by taking advantage of its decision to open up its Pulse newsfeed to more than just those people invited to be LinkedIn Influencers. Howes says that he has seen companies enjoy significant increases in their traffic and leads as a result publishing long-form content on Pulse, which exposes a content writer’s work to more eyeballs than just the ones that belong to the people on his or her contact list. Another LinkedIn expert, Burt Verdonck, told Fortune that marketers would do well to take advantage of the site’s Slideshare feature, which allows users to easily upload and share presentations, infographics, documents, videos, PDFs, and webinars. “Slideshare helps your profile become more visible not only by putting you higher in search rankings in the search engines and LinkedIn, but by providing engaging content your potential audience wants to see when they do reach your profile,” he explained. “Talk about a win-win scenario.”

Status Updates

Posted in Status Updates

Pupils, passwords and privacy. A law that went into effect on January1st has the parents of some Illinois school children asking themselves how much of their children’s privacy they’re willing to forgo to keep cyberbullying in check. The new Prairie State law requires students to surrender their social-media-site passwords to school officials if—according to a letter notifying one school’s parents of the possibility—“school  authorities have reasonable cause to believe that a student’s account on a social networking website contains evidence that a student has violated a school disciplinary rule or procedure.” It doesn’t matter whether the suspicious social media posts were made on or off school property, or whether they were made using a private computer or a school computer. Some parents think the law goes too far, asserting that allowing school officials to look at a student’s social media account—as opposed to allowing them unlimited access to it—would likely be enough to squelch cyberbullying.

High profile. The Justice Department will pay $134,000 to Sondra Arquiett to settle her suit alleging that the Drug Enforcement Administration caused her “fear and emotional distress” when, as we reported in October, the agency created a phony Facebook page in her name without her permission in an effort to ensnare participants in a drug ring. When the DEA set up the page, Arquiette had been sentenced to probation for her relatively small role in the criminal activity. DEA agents used pictures from her seized cellphone to set up the Facebook profile, which featured photos of Arquiette’s family members and of Arquiette herself, in one instance wearing only a bra and underwear. The terms of the settlement do not require the DEA to admit that its actions were wrong or assure the public that it will refrain from employing similar tactics in the future.

Fired over Facebook. The U.S Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has affirmed a federal district court’s ruling that a police department in Greenville, Mississippi was justified when it fired police officer Susan Graziosi over a series of public Facebook posts criticizing her police chief for failing to send a representative to the funeral of a fellow officer. As we discussed last year, the federal district court that first heard the case held that Sergeant Graziosi’s Facebook posts weren’t made in her capacity as a “private citizen” speaking out on a matter of “public concern.” The social media posts, therefore, did not meet the threshold requirement established by Pickering v. Board of Education for prohibiting government employers from firing employees based on their speech. The Fifth Circuit disagreed with the district court’s holding that Sergeant Graziosi was not speaking as a private citizen when she drafted the posts on Facebook “because it is undisputed that making these statements was not within the ordinary scope of Graziosi’s duties as a police office.” The Fifth Circuit did, however, agree with the district court’s holding regarding the second part of the Pickering test: whether Sergeant Graziosi’s speech addressed a matter of public concern. Her Facebook posts did not address a matter of public concern, the Fifth Circuit held, because they qualified as a rant “akin to an internal grievance, the content of which is not entitled to First Amendment protection.” Sergeant Graziosi’s Facebook posts therefore were not entitled to the protection established by Pickering because they failed to satisfy both prongs of the Pickering test.


Social Media 2015: Addressing Corporate Risks

Posted in Employment Law, Event, Online Promotions, Privacy

Please join Socially Aware editor John Delaney as he chairs Practising Law Institute’s (PLI) “Social Media 2015: Addressing Corporate Risks.” Issues to be addressed at the conference include:

  • Friending, Tagging and Tweeting: Social Media Overview
  • User-Generated Content: Liability Concerns and Safe Harbors
  • Social Media in the Workplace: Emerging Issues
  • Social Media, Mobile Apps and the Emerging Regulatory Landscape
  • Hot Issues in Social Media Advertising
  • A View from the Trenches: Hot Issues, Creative Solutions

Representatives from Facebook, Netflix, Google and other companies will be speaking at the event. The conference is being held in San Francisco on February 10th and in New York City on February 25th. The February 10th event will be webcasted. For more information or to register, please visit PLI’s website here.

Status Updates

Posted in Status Updates

Copyright crises averted. Until very recently, YouTube video creators had no way of knowing whether the music they included in their content was copyrighted until they’d uploaded their videos onto the site. Once uploaded onto YouTube, the music was (and still is) automatically scanned against the video-sharing site’s database of copyrighted material, known as Content ID. If a newly uploaded video contains music that matches a file in that database, YouTube responds by automatically following the copyright holder’s instructions on what to do with infringing material: mute the audio part of the video that matches the copyright holder’s music; block the whole video from being viewed on YouTube; track the number of times the video is viewed on YouTube; or enable the infringing video to make money for the copyright holder by placing advertisements on it. Now, thanks to a feature added last month, people who post content to YouTube no longer have to wait until they’ve uploaded their videos to learn the fate of that content. The new feature allows YouTube video creators to search the YouTube Audio Library for songs they plan to use in their content. The Audio Library will then inform the video creators if someone else owns the rights to the songs they’re considering.

Social drinkers. The founder of the Lagunitas Brewing Company decided to drop a lawsuit that he’d filed against Sierra Nevada for trademark infringement after beer drinkers expressed their disapproval of the suit on Twitter. The complaint claimed the letters “IPA” on the label for Sierra Nevada’s Hop Hunter IPA mimicked the “IPA” on Lagunitas’ India Pale Ale product because the font, color, kerning (or letter spacing) and “weathered look” of those initials were similar on both packages. After Lagunitas’ founder, Tony Magee, posted on Twitter about the suit, beer consumers expressed their dismay on that social media platform, with some even tweeting threats to boycott Lagunitas’ products. One consumer tweeted: “You’re suing over kerning? The labels look nothing alike and you’ve just done more damage to your brand than SN did.” Magee acquiesced to the Twitter mob by tweeting his intention to withdraw the suit the very next day.

Reputation preservation. A New York City-based start up wants to help save people who lack social media savvy from themselves. For $5 a month ($10 to monitor your interactions on more than one network), the company, ThinkUp, helps a subscriber understand how he is coming across on platforms including Facebook and Twitter by emailing the subscriber information such as how often he congratulates others and uses certain words on social media. Seem unnecessary? Other people must think so, too; the company recently announced that its user base isn’t growing as quickly as its founders had hoped. Conditions nevertheless seem ripe for ThinkUp’s success. A New York Times “Personal Tech” columnist reported that he found ThinkUp “to be an indispensable guide to how [he] navigate[s] social networks,” and, given the prevalence of news stories describing a social media gaffe’s potential to ruin someone’s reputation and career, you’d think there’d be no shortage of people willing to pony up $5 to help them stay in their online communities’ good graces.