Last week, we wrote about legal issues for podcasters, and made the point that media companies should be making clear by contract or otherwise who owns the podcasts that their employees and independent contractors have created. This week, there was press coverage (see, for instance, the article here) about a law suit filed by a newspaper company against a former employee seeking ownership of a Twitter account used by the employee while at the newspaper and then taken by that employee to his new employer. The company claims that the Twitter account, covering a local college sports team, was property not of the employee, but of the newspaper – pointing out that the account had actually been started by a predecessor employee, and that the employee handbook gave all rights to intellectual property, trade secrets and other intangibles created by the employee during the course of his employment to the newspaper company. The fact that a lawsuit was filed must indicate that the former employee is not ready to accept the newspaper’s position on the subject. For readers of this blog, what it does is reiterate our suggestion last week that media companies make sure that it is clear, in legally binding documents, who owns intellectual property created by employees and contractors. And this should include not just podcasts, but webpages, blogs, and social media accounts and similar assets – all being important aspects of today’s relationship between media companies and their customers.
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