Sunday, July 18, 2021

Influence This

If we publish, we promote. There's no avoiding it.

If we have assistance, increasingly, it has to be willingly given (or subcontracted), and the willingness has to be properly defined with waivers and contracts.

We cannot --or should not-- snag or take an image of a famous person or character, and exploit it without permission for our own profit and fame.

Take broadly smiling Borat, for example. Or to be more precise, do not take Borat.

Edward H. Rosenthal, blogging for for Frankfurt Kurnit Klein + Selz PC   discusses a variety of copyright-related claims brought by the actor Sacha Baron Cohen against a Massachusetts based Cannabis dispensary which used his image as the Borat character on a billboard, in total disregard for Mr. Cohen's rights, reputation, and feelings.

Motorists glimpsing the billboard might be given the false and misleading impression that Mr. Cohen willingly and probably profitably endorsed the dispensary's product.

As Edward H. Rosenthal points out, "No matter how this one turns out, it is very risky to make commercial use of a celebrity's image...."

For what it is worth, it is probably risky to profit from any photograph or video taken of an unwilling subject.

Most authors have blogs specifically for marketing/promoting our works.

David O. Klein  of   Klein Moynihan Turco  LLP  has some very good advice about using blogs and social media for marketing which is well worth reading.

Beware of posting fake or paid reviews of your own work. Or of someone else's work!

Proper disclosure will protect the blog or website owner from the appearance of deceptive marketing. Bloggers are not expected to be paid spokespersons.  Is this a concern for hosts of blog tours?  Presumably, it is not, if the hosts are not paid, but what if they are paid?

Mr. Klein's focus is not an authors, but he summarizes the most interesting updates too the FTC's  Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

Authors must disclose clearly and quite prominently what the author stands to gain in connection with writing/posting same.

Also, "The guidelines also make clear that fake testimonials are strictly prohibited and, when using an authentic testimonial, the blogger or writer must not edit or change it from the original in any material way."

What does that do to the long-standing tradition of taking the most fulsome "snip" from a lengthy review?

Not many authors can afford to hire an influencer, but, if one does so, one must do it right. 

Finally, from the UK, legal blogger Astrid Arnold representing Stevens & Bolton LLP  shares a bit of good British news for someone who contributed mightily to the development of a movie, but did not get credit or a fair share of the writing royalties.

All the best,

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