Answers to Hot Social Media Law Questions

Ryan Garcia, Legal Director at Dell and Adjunct Professor for the School of Law at the University of Texas at Austin, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss the legal issues brought up by social media—not just in marketing, but also in sales, employment, support, and customer relations.

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Social Media Law Has Become a Career

Ryan Garcia is the Legal Director at Dell, which means a large part of his job is providing guidance surrounding the use of social media for the company. When he tells people he is a social media lawyer, he often gets asked, “That’s a thing? That’s an actual job?” It is. Social media has become one of Ryan’s largest client groups, and it’s easy to see why.

Social media can (and often should) be utilized by nearly every department across any organization today. Ryan answers legal questions related to social media marketing a lot of the time, as marketing is the biggest intersection of business, consumer, and regulation. But there are also questions about employment, sales, support, customer relations, even financial relations.

“Social media is really part of so many different business groups that I’m answering a lot of different questions about the legality or legal implications, or even risks around social media and how a lot of different business groups are using it.”

Ryan finds that a large part of his job is training and providing guidance on social media as things rapidly change. In fact, he also has a teaching position at the School of Law where he received his law degree (the University of Texas at Austin).

Unfortunately, he tends to have no trouble finding examples of “what not to do” for brands nearly every day. Social media has matured to a point where we aren’t necessarily seeing new legal issues, but just different iterations of the same problems over and over.

Social Media Could Change Copyright Law

Then again, as soon as you think you have social media legal issues pegged, platforms like Periscope and Meerkat come out and change the game again. Copyright and piracy issues have come to the front and center in social media.”Technologies like Periscope and Meerkat are forcing us to think about those issues and I’m not sure if we’ve come to the right conclusions yet. But I do like the fact that social media is forcing that conversation.”

“I think as a whole, our evolution to an information economy really took off with social media. There was the internet that made things accessible to people. But social media suddenly made it interactive and it delivered on that promise of the internet. And now it’s pushing things along to the point where we might actually have to start changing how we look at certain issues.”

We may be to a point, in the next decade or so, where we have to reexamine our current copyright framework and whether or not it still applies to the digital age we live in.

Bonus: Check out Ryan’s podcast, Gabbing Geek, for nothing to do with legal issues in social media and all to do with geeky topics on TV, movies, and comic books.

See you next week!

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