|Social Media: The Legal Issues|
|Details | Review ||
Review: Christopher J Sherliker - Silverman Sherliker LLP
Social media – that is, society as it extends to the web – is quickly becoming as diverse and as complex as the whole of the rest of society.
The developing social media platforms are no longer just places where people share photos and pity messages; on the contrary, social media is the new driving tide behind business and professional relationships and the glue that keeps many lives together, in both the personal and business spheres. Web 2.0 is the facilitator that allows users to take advantage of services like on-line file storage, quick and free video publicising, and collaborative content and, with the advent of smart phones, people habitually now carry around the whole Internet in their pocket.
As quickly as the Internet grows, the law still moves slowly. Cases and statutes do exist that relate to the legal issues implicit social media, but they require specific and careful adaptation to the legal challenges posed by the new online social environment. Legal Issues of Web 2.0 and Social Media usefully brings all of these together in one place and presents a helpful and practical analysis of all of the law and the legal concepts that relate to the issues raised by the most recent developments in social media and the “attention economy”.
Each chapter flows well and is intelligently structured, leading from core principles of law, through their application to the Internet, and possible remedies, and ending with practical conclusions and summaries. As well as discussing the provisions of law simpliciter, the author makes excellent observations about how to apply them to the practical legal situations that daily arise in the field of social media and provides interesting and relevant statistics. Through each chapter “Practical Tips” and “Key Issues” are helpfully highlighted.
The broad scope of this book is itself an impressive feat; the unique circumstances of on-line life raise a vast range of legal questions. Stephen Kuncewicz deals with concepts as diverse as ownership and obscenity, trade marks and terrorism, and copyright and contempt of court. The impressive range of legal discourse is not one that would be found in any other book, and this is what gives the report its real value. The pragmatic approach and the full compass of issues covered makes it essential reading not only for lawyers but also web developers, journalists, web consultants and indeed anyone with a serious interest in social media and the cloud. The chapters that deal with intellectual property issues, where the author’s evident experience allows for to-the-point and helpfully decisive comments, are particularly enlightening.
If there is a fault in content, it is simply that, as a side effect of the scope of the report, there are some areas where it is necessarily less thorough, and the reader might need to reach for a heftier volume to expand on certain issues. This is inevitable, of course, and is no failing on the author’s part.
Importantly, Stephen Kuncewicz’s style is conversational enough to be engaging without being at all trivial. The book is not repetitive and does not dwell on irrelevant issues, but cuts cleanly through the body of law and reads well. It does not handle like a legal encyclopedia, but as a readable and enjoyable discourse that is most certainly worth reading.
I would say this is a must-read for any media or IP law practitioner, but really any lawyer, academic or student of law would find this an excellent tool – whether you’re interested in specific issues of social media law (for instance, the recent “Twitter Joke Trial”), or to bring yourself up to date with the state of the law in this important and fast-developing area where legal mistakes are all too easily made.
Christopher J Sherliker
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