New Association Seeks Global Regulations on Social Media

It’s easy to pass around photos and other intellectual property on social media websites, but is it right? The recently launched International Social Media Association wants to make sure content creators get credit for their work.

Social media legal guru Sara Delpopolo wants to standardize the way intellectual property rights are regulated on the Internet around the world.

To work toward that goal, Delpopolo, an Australian-based lawyer, launched the International Social Media Association from Sydney earlier this year. ISMA wants to bring together a global coalition of social media experts and lay out a concrete way to approach privacy and intellectual property issues. Currently, associations, businesses, and other groups are grappling with the vagaries inherent in the digital sphere.

“We have international treaties about intellectual property and global treaties that facilitate global commerce, why can’t we do this for social media?” Delpopolo told Australasian Lawyer.

To that end, Delpopolo is gathering legal experts and social media gurus from around the world. So far, board members hail from the United States, Russia, China, India, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, and Thailand, among others. ISMA isn’t stopping there—it’s also hoping to bring in board members from the U.K., Brazil, and Malta in the coming weeks.

The proliferation of social media has been a boon for individuals, newsmakers, businesses, and associations. But it comes with a cost, namely that easy spread of information makes it increasingly likely that photos and data will get usurped by third-party actors.

It’s not a new issue.

Back in 2011, for example, reported on the case of Daniel Morel, a photographer who was on scene following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Morel’s photos of the immediate aftermath went viral and another person reposted—and took credit—for his images. Several major news outlets allegedly followed suit, similarly claiming credit for his work and profiting from the exchange of the photos.

The case eventually ended up in court.

“The laws are not serviceable around this and no one is looking at it,” Delpopolo said in a statement. “We need to make sure we close the gap on the laws governing the digital community.”

According to ISMA, the globe’s major social media organizations—think Twitter and Google—have struggled with the issue, changing copyright and use-of-service terms multiple times over the subsequent years. The problem prompted the Australian lawyer to publish a guide called “Social Media: Playing by the Rules.”

While ISMA is in the process of converting Delpopolo’s guide into an interactive digital offering, it has already built on her previous work, publishing a whitepaper called “2016 Social Media Terms of Service.” This deep dive into social media and copyright law highlights problems with various outlets’ terms of service.

“This Paper is a crucial step by ISMA towards achieving what should be expected of the online legal landscape—to protect Australian social media users and assist businesses. Social media is not just about being ‘sociable’; it’s about how society interacts on digital platforms internationally,” Delpopolo said in a news release.

According to an article on CMO Australia, ISMA’s broader priority is to seek harmonization globally around how to approach the legal rights of companies and users in a social media situation and in cyberspace.


Derrick Perkins

By Derrick Perkins

Derrick Perkins is an associate editor at Associations Now. In his career as a reporter, editor, and photographer, he has covered communities in New England and Virginia as well as the Defense Department. MORE

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