Social Media Legal Setbacks for Punk Label

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In one of my past posts I wrote about an indie record label called Epitaph based on Los Angeles, led by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz, which has been one of the successful indie labels in the punk industry.

Bad Religion – Photo Credits: The Humanist

Their business and focus is continuously changing as for most of the agents in music industry, but they are mainly engage in: signing up new artists, supporting the recording of albums, design of visual art, publicity and advertising for bands products and tours and the distribution of their music, videos and other media. For internal communication, storage and collaboration they use a Social Media tool called Socialtext  which is explained extensively in a previous post, but for external communication they use: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and RSS – Tumblr, that is where the fans are!

For Epitaph and overall for record labels the legal risks involved in their operations are:

  • Loss of confidential information: The record label plans with each of the artists when to release the album or items related. That depends in many factors such as, when the artists area planning to tour certain area, when is best to target a particular market and their related radio stations. The time for the release is critical. The fact that confidential information could be leaked untimely, i.e. a featured single, is a major setback for all the plans. The Social Media Policy (SMP) have to address this issue with workers to let them know the importance of keeping the information away from the public until is time to release it.
  • Breach of copyright: In the setup of Social Media, it is so easy to infringe copyrights. If an employee uploads illegitimately a song and share it with their friends just to show off is infringing the copyrights of the composers, recording artists and the production company, i.e. is distributing the artistic work without the permission of the author, which usually means without paying them. The SMP has to be clear in that regard, the products of Epitaph and their artists are their songs, videos, visual arts, etc. and any unauthorized publication is a breach in copyright, in other words a theft of copyrights.
  • False statements: Social Media is a way to connect with fans and is easy, is real-time! Anything that is posted is there straightaway! This means that the communication has to be thought out, not just simply write whatever comes to mind, because if that is the way to operate a lot of mistakes would have to be corrected and most serious the fans could be misled, e.g. to try to catch the band at the wrong time in the wrong music shop for autographs, which definitely leads to lower the reputation of the band and record label. SMP would have to make that clear to employees in communication positions.

Now, I get the concern and reluctance of some companies to be into Social Media, as the one that Yvonne Tang showed in her post about Singapore Airlines. I think that this is a virgin territory and that the law is being made as the fast pace Social Media effects are happening. However, with a good Social Media Strategy and Social Media Policy that would establish the rules of the game, Social Networking for companies would be more legal-safe and they could reap the benefits of Web 2.0.

🙂