Want To Know What A Social Media Law Final Looks Like?

Not that anyone actually writes law school finals with a pen, but you get the point.

Thinking about going to law school or want to revisit those horrifying amazing three years of your life?  If you’re curious about a law school final, or what a final looks like for a social media law class, then you’ve come to the right blog post.

Long time readers may recall when I first announced I’d be teaching a class at the University of Texas School of Law on Law and Social Media.  Last night I finished entering the grades for my students and so the class is officially over.  It was a blast to teach and I hope I get invited back to do it again, although developing the material was a lot more work than I expected.  Yes, I was warned this would be the case but I thought that all the other material I had in training about various social media legal issues would help.  They did–but it still took a lot of time to convert that into a format that was better for students.  That’s a big reason why this blog has been so silent these last few months.

As I mentioned in the original post, my class was about the many different legal topics that social media impacts.  There’s a lot of attention around social marketing and for good reason–that’s a highly regulated area and one that’s ripe with consumer protection issues.  But that is just one area I wanted to cover–employment, free speech, privacy, and several other topics were worth exploring.  I wanted my final to touch upon several topics while giving the students a bit of a taste of practicing in this emerging field.

Just to put this in context, the students had three hours to complete this exam (including reading time).  They could use any notes they created or assisted in creating and all three questions were weighted equally.  The final is shown below.  No, I’m not going to give you my model answers but feel free to ask questions in the comments about any issues you see.

Question One

Congratulations!  After four rounds of interviews and a grueling series of one-on-one discussions with the Board of Directors, you have been appointed General Counsel to BCB — the only social network dedicated to Bacon, Cats, and Babies.  With over four million users and an average of one million new pieces of content daily, BCB is one of the hottest social networks in the world.  It’s basic functionality allows users to upload a photo that features either Bacon, Cats, or Babies (or combination thereof).  These photos can be Liked and Shared and the picture can also be linked to some other online location–users browsing the site can click on the photo to be taken to the link provided by the original content creator.  Unfortunately, the site has yet to make any revenue and its initial funding is being consumed by the massive servers BCB must use.

BCB’s VP of Making Money has decided to make money through affiliate programs.  He would like every piece of content to be linked to an item that can be purchased from a web site.  Each link would contain a code that gives credit for the sale to BCB and the sites have agreed to pay BCB 3% of all sales.  For pieces of content that are posted without a link, BCB’s software will automatically select the optimal commercial item to link to the content and embed BCB’s affiliate code.  If the piece of content posted by the user already has a link then one of two things will happen:

1. If the link is to a non-commercial page, that link will be moved to a special button under the photo and the photo itself will then be linked to a commercial item similar to photos without links.

2. If the link is to a commercial page then the BCB affiliate code will be embedded in the URL.  If the link already has an affiliate code, that original affiliate code will be stripped out and replaced by the BCB affiliate code.

BCB’s Terms of Use section that deals with content says the following:

You can only post content you have permission to post.  Anything you post may be used by BCB as part of normal site functionality or in our efforts to make money.

Draft an email to the VP of Making Money describing the risks of his proposed plan and the changes to the Terms of Use you would propose to address those risks.

Question Two

The VP of Marketing for BCB has come to you with a plan for a new contest and would like your advice on how to proceed.  The contest would run for the month of May and invite all site users to submit their best BCB content that includes pictures of Google, Owen Wilson, or Vince Vaughn (in addition to the obligatory Bacon, Cat, or Baby).  He is hoping to capitalize on the popularity of the upcoming movie The Internship in which Wilson and Vaughn play unpaid interns at Google and is also hoping the contest has side benefits of making BCB show up in more Google searches.  He would like to give away $15,000 to the best content in terms of ten $500 prizes, one $2,500 prize, and one $7,500 prize.  Winners will be determined by the number of Likes clicked on each picture.  He would like the contest to be open to anyone in the world age 13 and up.

Draft an email to send to the VP of Marketing to discuss what changes, if any, he would need to make to his contest prior to running it, or highlight any issues/concerns you may have.

Question Three

You receive the following email from your VP of Human Resources:

Hi new General Counsel (sorry, I should know your name but I’m really busy)!

I’ve got a bit of a situation I’m hoping you can advise me on.  We hired Pat as our head of Online Community about a year ago.  I conducted the interview of Pat myself and I was really excited to do so because I had checked out all of Pat’s social media accounts prior to the office visit.  I was especially interested because it turns out Pat and I go to the same church and I didn’t even know that before!  

Anyway, I wanted to make sure Pat was a thorough professional in all their social media interactions so during the interview I had Pat log into all the major platforms and I browsed through the accounts, just to make sure there wasn’t anything tasteless that might go viral and embarrass us.  It was all good so Pat came on board and did a great job for many months.

But in the last few months, Pat has gotten weird.  Mostly on personal posts, but if you read those then you can see how it spills over to our corporate accounts.  Our users have started to notice too and Pat got into a nasty debate last week over whether a picture of Canadian Bacon was eligible for the site.

We may need to let Pat go soon.  Anything I need to be concerned about?

Draft a response to the VP of Human Resources.

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6 Comments

Filed under Affiliates, Celebrities, Commercial Activity, Consumer Protection, CopyFUD, Copyright, Email, Employment, Facebook, Fair Use, First Amendment, FTC Endorsement Guidelines, Identity, Informal Tone, Instagram, Laws, Pinterest, Privacy, Social Marketing, Social Measurement, Social Media and the Law, Social Media Policies, Social Media Risks, Social Platforms, Terms and Conditions, Twitter

6 responses to “Want To Know What A Social Media Law Final Looks Like?

  1. Dave

    What, no model answers? Boo! Hiss!

    • I told the class before that there isn’t much I’d consider right and wrong–it would be more about the issue spotting and analysis they did. Some students brought up issues that I hadn’t even considered in the questions (some of those were more successful than others) and those could earn points. So, no, no model answers. Maybe I’ll see if the top scoring student would like to have their answers posted.

  2. #3 was ESPECIALLY INTERESTING.

  3. I wish such courses were available when I attended law school. Hope you can convince the top student to have her/his answers posted. Would be interesting to read.

  4. Pingback: Social Media Law Final (You Know You’re Curious) | SoMeLaw Thoughts

  5. Pingback: So You Want To See A Social Media Law Final? (2015 Edition) | SoMeLaw Thoughts

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