The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently sent over 90 letters to celebrities, athletes, marketing firms and other influencers, warning them to disclose clearly and conspicuously their relationships with brands when endorsing products through social media. This is the first time that the FTC has directly targeted social media influencers, highlighting requirements set out in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
For more than 80 years, Section 310(b) of the Communications Act 1934 has been interpreted as prohibiting direct foreign ownership of more than 20% and indirect ownership of 25% or more of US radio and television broadcast stations. This will change as of January 31 2017, as the Federal Communications Commission recently removed longstanding prohibitions against these limitations on foreign ownership.
The Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Programme has released a compliance warning regarding the use of online-behavioural advertising (OBA) in conjunction with native advertisements. The warning states that native advertisements tailored to a consumer based on the consumer's browsing history (ie, OBA) must comply with the Self-regulatory Principles for Online Behavioural Advertising.
Companies must follow specific guidelines when developing television advertising. One such guideline involves controversial public issues in advertising. Networks will not sell time for advertising that presents a partisan position on a controversial public issue – a serious matter that has an impact on society or its institutions and on which different segments of the community have strongly opposing positions.
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has approved certain uses of drones or unmanned aircraft systems in the National Airspace System for film and television productions. This is a breakthrough for the entertainment industry, but the FAA's approval is not without restriction.
The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a press release indicating that, following a review of many national television and print advertisements, warning letters have been sent to a number of companies – including some of the largest advertisers in the United States – noting that they had failed to make adequate disclosures in some of their advertising.
The Massachusetts Senate has passed S 2022, beginning the process of joining 13 other states that prohibit companies from using celebrities' identities after they die. The bill amends the Massachusetts General Laws to create a post-mortem 'right of publicity' interest. In order to enjoy the bill's protection the personality must be domiciled in Massachusetts as of the date of his or her death.
The US Supreme Court has reversed a Second Circuit decision and held that Aereo's service of providing mini-antennae to its thousands of customers to receive over-the-air broadcasts counted as a public performance of those broadcasts under the Copyright Act. Essentially, it found, Aereo was no different from cable companies, whose ability to freely transmit programming is limited under the act.
US television network guidelines require that when a commercial demonstrates the attributes of a product, the demonstration be performed with actual examples of the product as available to consumers and the results be accurately represented. Demonstrations should further depict product performance in a way that accurately reflects how the product performs when used by consumers.
While social media, wireless and mobile technology and cloud computing can provide opportunities and capabilities unheard of just a few years ago, to a small business owner, figuring out how to capitalise on those opportunities and take advantage of those capabilities, without being overwhelmed with the challenges (and without incurring massive expenses in the process), is no trivial challenge.
The Federal Trade Commission has released updated guidance for publishers and broadcasters on how to evaluate weight-loss claims when screening ads for publication. The guidance does not create new liability for publishers, but rather provides a reminder for publishers to be vigilant when it comes to weight-loss claims.
While in the United Kingdom, the law in relation to the live streaming of free-to-view television channels has been resolved in favour of free-to-view broadcasters, following the decision in TVCatchUp, the same issue is very much alive in the United States. The issue turns on the definition of 'public performance' and the interpretation of the 'transmit clause' in the US Copyright Act.
'Crowdfunding' refers to the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organisations.There remains some confusion as to the mechanisms by which funds are made available. At present, there are four major categories of crowdfunding activity which can be used by, for example, musicians and film makers.
Two non-profit organisations recently released a report alleging that the Federal Trade Commission broke free speech laws when it barred POM Wonderful from asserting that its pomegranate juice is "effective in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease", including heart disease and prostate cancer, unless the claim is supported by two randomised, well-controlled, human clinical trials.
Jersey Shore star Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino recently lost his lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch. A Florida federal judge ruled that the case could not proceed to trial based on his trademark infringement, publicity rights and false advertising claims related to a t-shirt sold by the retail store sold labeled 'The Fitchuation'.
Broadcasters have long been able to track the popularity of their shows. However, a new bill recently introduced in Congress aims to regulate technology that would go even further by using actual cameras and microphones on television set-top boxes or digital video recorders to record viewers' reactions to advertisements.
The director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Prescription Drug Promotion recently indicated that long-awaited draft guidance on the promotion of medical products using the Internet and social media is forthcoming. However, some scepticism is warranted because the industry has been listening to the FDA's promises about forthcoming internet-related guidance for almost two decades.
Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez recently spoke to members of the advertising industry, urging them to provide "effective and meaningful privacy protection" to consumers with respect to online tracking. She said that consumers feel "unease" with online tracking, and that they are still awaiting "an effective and functioning do-not-track system".
The governor of Nevada has signed legislation that enables the state to enter into agreements with other states that legalise interstate online poker. The move follows a memorandum from the Department of Justice suggesting that it no longer believes that non-sports related online betting and wagering (eg, online poker) is prohibited by the Wire Act.
Iconic music entertainer Chubby Checker is suing Hewlett-Packard for trademark infringement based on a mobile app named "The Chubby Checker". The suit alleges that purchasers of the app had been misled into believing that Checker had endorsed the app and that the use of his name would confuse users who might reasonably conclude that the singer had some association with the app bearing his name.