It’s obvious that social media is here to stay as people are rapidly giving and receiving information about everything from companies to products to people. If you are developing social media applications that facilitate this form of interaction (to one degree or another), there’s some practical protections to consider.
Social media has been defined as a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. This is not to be confused with social networking which is a social structure made of individuals (or organizations) aka “nodes” that are connected by one or more specific types of common interest-although the two often go hand in hand.
The Software License Agreement should explain in detail exactly what the licensee can do with the software. For example, will the licensee be able to modify the software or only be able to combine it with other software. The Agreement should also draw distinct lines between what software is owned by the licensor and what software is owned by the licensee. Clearly drawing these lines can be tricky, but are essential for the licensor to preserve its intellectual property rights. Finally, the licensor should make sure that the licensee indemnifies it for any improper use of the social media software, and the licensor should limit its liability for the use of the software by the licensee.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure-make sure the necessary agreements are in place before entering into any type of relationship with another (virtual) party.
Bradley J. Walz is an attorney with the law firm of Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A., and is a member of the corporate and intellectual property groups. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.