Tuesday, January 07, 2014

advertising law exam in 140 characters or less

Film critic’s tweet turned into ad without his consent: violation of the right of publicity?  Grounds for a false endorsement claim?  Or just standard practice for publishers’/studios’ use of reviews?  (This ad is for a product itself protected by the First Amendment, which should make a big difference—but would it meet the transformativeness test that is, we are now to believe, the dominant test for First Amendment protection for artistic works, much less ads?)  The tweet was edited so that a partial quote looked complete. Does that make a difference?  What would the FTC think?  Also of note: the NYT has guidelines for ads; did it violate them?

“I’m surprised that Rudin did it over my objection, and I do feel that The Times itself should have checked with me, especially given that these are my words but not from a review,” Mr. Scott told [the NYT public editor] on Monday. “This is new enough ground that it should have been talked about more.”

Others have mentioned the potential relevance of Twitter’s terms of service (is the film company bound by them? The film/production company probably has a Twitter account), and the public editor discusses the awkwardness of this event right when the NYT is about to start “native advertising.”  In that light, I was struck by the film producer’s claim that “The paper running the ad is a tacit approval of the content of the ad.”  Also by his implausible, to the point of laughability, idea that putting the notation “MT” somewhere on the ad would have disclosed that the tweet had been modified.

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