Bloomberg BNA Publishes Social Media Considerations for Real Estate Companies by Andrew Lustigman and Mary Grieco

The report addresses how social media has become an increasingly popular marketing tool for the real estate industry, but suggests that such businesses can’t use social media the same way that individuals use social media.  Andy and Mary discuss the intellectual property issues that real estate firms should be wary of as they post photographs and other online content to advertise their businesses. They warn that “individuals, whether famous or not, have rights to privacy/ publicity,” and when using a celebrity in connection to a business’s social media account, “[that business] could be subjecting [itself] to liability for violating that celebrity’s right to privacy.” Andy and Mary talk in depth about copyright laws regarding photographs and, if using a photograph (or musical work, or painting, etc.) that was created from 1923 until present, a copyright exists at the time of creation. Even if using a stock photograph from a website, there might be images that are specifically for “non commercial use only.” Using these images without making sure of their copyright, could be committing copyright infringement. Andy and Mary also warn companies using social media that even using the silhouette of a specific building without a permit could be a trademark issue. Andy and Mary conclude by warning businesses that when using social media, “businesses should assume that traditional advertising clearance rules apply despite the informal nature of social media platforms.”

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