A recent district court case reminds companies and brand owners to establish clear guidelines or contractual rights with respect to brand-related social media pages’ administration and ownership.
Plaintiff Stacey Mattocks independently ran an un-official Facebook fan page which focused on the TV show the “Game”. After Black Entertainment Television network (BET) acquired rights to the TV show, it hired Mattocks to promote and grow the brand on the page and provided exclusive content and IP to Mattocks. During Mattocks’ employment, the number of page “likes” grew from 2 million to 6 million. Mattocks had granted BET full access to the page to update content but later, during a dispute involving Mattocks’ terms of employment, Mattocks demoted BET’s ability to access the page without her approval and claimed ownership of the page. BET approached the social media platform to regain control and Mattocks filed suit for various claims against BET (such as breach of contract and tortious interference with contract).
While social media platforms offer certain protections to companies and some include official or verification procedures, this kind of litigation and expense could have been avoided with more careful planning with respect to allocation of rights and ownership up front. For additional details on the case and the measures companies should take to assure their ownership rights, please read the latest post on our firm’s Employment Law Watch blog.