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Who Owns Tweets? The Legal Minefield Explained

02 Feb 2012

For a company, the response to the question is, ensure that employee handbooks, employee contracts; and/or contractor agreements that: all media created during the term of employment and/or contractor agreements belongs to the employer/company; and followers/customers/clients must not be enticed away from the company should the employee/contractor leave the company.


All media includes information such as lists, artworks, graphics including skins for social networking sites; notes, followers, fans, audio visuals, demos, and any other media presentations or paraphernalia.


Example

In a Nth California Court, PhoneDog -a mobile news and reviews resource- is currently seeking to recover the 17,000 - 24,000 followers of its PhoneDog twitter account which is currently owned by a former freelancer Noah Kravitz.


Kravitz fronted various media outlets, for PhoneDog, discussing the pros and cons of mobile phones and operated a Twitter account called @PhoneDog_Noah. Kravitz left in October 2010, renamed the Twitter account @noahkravitz and excluded PhoneDog from the account.


PhoneDog now claims that Kravitz took PhoneDogs knowhow and confidential information and interfered with PhoneDogs business by taking the Twitter account and its followers. The litigation is new but already questions are being asked like Can PhoneDog lay claim to the list when the list is in the public domain and in the possession of a third party such as Twitter?

Action

Dont be like PhoneDog, insert clear statements in employee handbooks, employee contracts and/or contractor agreements and avoid the cost of litigation.



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