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Who owns that Twitter account?

Zach Miners | Feb. 28, 2013
By late 2010 journalist Noah Kravitz's @PhoneDog_Noah Twitter account had amassed more than 17,000 followers. That was all well and good—until Kravitz resigned and went to work for a competitor.

"If a company is going to encourage its employees to use their own personal social media accounts for work-related posts and tweets, the company should not expect to obtain ownership over such accounts as a result," Delaney said.

Even when the account is personally owned, there are still legal gray areas when it is used, even if only in part, for that person's work or business.

"Even though the existing practice of the overwhelming majority of employers recognizes employee privacy rights with respect to private, password-protected social media accounts, we recommend that employers undertake a careful review of their social media policies and practices," said Latham & Watkins attorneys Linda Inscoe and Joseph Farrell.

Consider a case in which an employee starts a personal blog related to work, develops a long list of email subscribers and later leaves the company, said Latham & Watkins' Archie.

"Is that list intellectual property? If so, who gets it?" Archie said. After all, going back to the New York Times example, "seventy-five thousand followers on Twitter starts to be worth a little bit of money."

 

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