A Quick Guide to
Media Liability Issues

ebook Chapter Cover Image "A Quick Guide to Media Liability Issues"

A Quick Guide to Media Liability Issues



Is enforced by…

Pitfalls for media companies



Literary works, movies, dance, music, sound recordings, paintings, drawings, photos, graphic designs.

Civil courts — third parties can sue you over infringement.

Google image search, unauthorized use of sound / music clips.

Simple misuse of an image can cost thousands — even without a lawsuit.

Intellectual Property

Advertising and media agencies — if their ideas, techniques, or work is stolen.

Civil courts.

A client might suggest ideas to you without disclosing they've come from someone else.

Do the extra "legwork" to make sure ideas really are original.


Parties who claim they've been injured by false statements or inaccurate publications.

Civil courts.

You can be sued even if you're merely quoting someone else's statement.

Make sure to check that any statements your clients want to use are accurate.


Phrases, branding, logos, symbols, jingles.

Civil courts — third parties can sue you over infringement.

Bigger companies have more resources and can spend more on lawyers to sue for anything close to infringement.

Courts can award treble damages — the amount of actual financial losses — to a plaintiff for trademark infringement.

False Advertising Laws

Consumers, from claims that are inaccurate and may cause them injuries or mislead them.

The FTC and civil courts. FTC can file cease-and-desist orders and fine you. Consumers can sue.

You can be liable even if you are merely repeating your client's claims.

FTC can fine businesses up to $16,000 a day for repeat violations.

Fair Use

Certain transformational uses of copyrighted material, including scholarship, parody, reporting, and more.

Civil courts — copyright holders can sue if they believe the use doesn't meet fair use guidelines.

The four factors that determine fair use are nebulous; consult with legal counsel if you're unsure about use.

Many fair use lawsuits involve a lot of gray area. Be prepared to have legal representation.

Work for Hire

Employers whose employees create or contribute to creative work.

Work-for-hire law and employee contracts.

Freelancers and contractors must have work-for-hire terms spelled out in their contracts.

Some states (notably California) have more stringent regulations.

Grab-n-Go Information

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Managing Media Liability - How to Protect Your Business from Your Clients' Bad Judgment
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