I’ll be speaking on social-networking ethics this Wednesday, September 8, at the Americana Music Festival in downtown Nashville, if you want to join the conversation in person. In case you can’t make it, I thought I’d give you a sneak-peek with the following legal tips on social-networking for musicians and artists:
Posting private information about others. If you need to be careful about posting your own personal information, you need to be extra careful about posting personal information about others. While doing so without their permission is not only unethical, it’s also potentially unlawful. Invasion of privacy is the legal claim they might raise against you in their lawsuit. Photos of people at private events, or showing them in a false light, or in any other scenario in which they have an expectation of privacy, should not be posted. When in doubt, get permission.
Posting third-party content. Even if that’s you performing in that video or smiling out of that photo, you need to be careful that you have permission to post it. In the case of the video, you will likely need permission from your record company under your recording agreement if you have one, from the producer of the video if your record company did not obtain it or if you don’t have a record deal, and from the songwriters/song publishers if you didn’t write the song. As for the photo, make sure you have permission from the person who took the photo. Make sure you have permission for all content, artwork, photos, audio, and videos created by others before posting, and be mindful of contractual restrictions with your own record company and music publisher as well.
Advertising using others’ images. Be careful about using photos and videos of others for purposes of promoting your career. Each person has the right to his own “publicity,” meaning the right to use his image for commercial purposes. Again, when in doubt, get permission.
False and harassing information. It goes without saying that you should not post false information about others or harass others online. Again, doing so is not just bad manners but unlawful.
And now back to building your online fan-base, wisely and lawfully!