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#Liability: Avoiding the Lanham Act and the Right of Publicity on Social Media

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Hannah L. Cook

Cook

#Liability: Avoiding the Lanham Act and the Right of Publicity on Social Media

Abstract:

Suppose a company wants to engage young people through social media, building its brand among thousands of potential customers in an effective and relatively inexpensive manner. A photographer has snapped a picture of a popular celebrity leaving the company’s store, shopping bags with its logo in hand. Can the company share the photo on social media?

This paper provides insight into how social media posts of celebrities can generate Lanham Act and right of publicity liability. It focuses on how tools unique to social media can influence the viability of these claims. Usernames and hashtags can increase the threat of liability. On the other hand, sharing and the resulting statistics can be used to bolster a First Amendment defense. Social media represents a valuable and growing way for companies to engage consumers, but these connectivity tools must be used wisely.

 

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