Tomorrow afternoon eastern time, I will be conducting a webinar for at least 20 state broadcast associations on legal issues for broadcasters in their social and digital media efforts. We’ll talk about many of the potential legal landmines that can be hidden in these new media efforts, many of which we have written about here before. These will include, but by no means be limited to, issues with the unauthorized use of photos on station websites and mobile apps, the need for captioning of online video, sponsorship identification in the digital world as required by the FTC, and all sorts of music licensing issues that come up when broadcasters want to take their content and put it onto Internet-based delivery systems. So, mostly, we’ll be talking about legal risks that broadcasters face when expanding their digital media efforts. Check with your state association to see if they are participating in this webinar.
But, what we don’t usually write about is how broadcasters and others can profit from their intellectual property rights. In our five-part series on the basics of trademark law (links to all are at the end of the final article here), we wrote about the benefits of Federal trademark registrations, and mentioned that these brands can be valuable as they can be licensed to third parties. An example of how valuable was contained in a recent blog post on the Jacobs Media Blog, here, talking about how, in their program consulting role, they came up with the idea of the brand “The Edge” for alternative formatted stations and, after some legal battles, they obtained a Federal trademark for that brand name, and have been receiving royalty checks for the last 20-plus years. Read the article to get an appreciation of the value of trademarks – and the need to secure rights not just in the US but, especially as digital media brings your content to a worldwide audience, internationally as well. We’ll talk some about these issues during the webinar tomorrow, and you can read more about trademarks in our posts here, and watch for more of them on Trademark Tuesdays in the future.