Know the Legal Risks of Blab for Brand Marketing

legal risks of Blab

By Kerry Gorgone, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Live streaming video has been all the rage since Meerkat debuted at SXSW 2015. Periscope rose to popularity soon after, and Blab has recently taken center stage. But should brands use these channels?

To be sure, streaming video offers opportunities for to show your brand in a new light. This TopRank blog post covers ways that brands could use Blab, and AdAge discusses why you should. The average Blab holds viewers’ attention for an average of 64 minutes, which easily bests most digital content. Suffice it to say, you could probably benefit from experimenting with Blab.

There are challenges for brands when it comes to using live video streaming, although companies like Benefit Cosmetics have still been willing to experiment.

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Navigating the legal risks of Blab

A few things to remember: the usual common sense considerations still apply when using any of these channels for marketing. I’ve written extensively about the legal implications of using Periscope, and provided a legal checklist for live streaming to help keep you on the right side of the law.

Blab presents similar legal issues. Pay attention to what’s visible in frame for each participant. If you elect to allow outside people to join your Blab, you won’t be able to control what’s shown. You may want to select people in advance and provide them with some guidelines for participating. I’d suggest these:

  • Preview your video stream and check whether you have any copyrighted material visible or audible (movies playing on the television, music from your speakers, etc.). Either reposition yourself or remove the copyrighted material from the streaming area.
  • Check your clothing and other visible items for trademarks and logos. Although displaying trademarks or logos in video feeds is not generally illegal, the legal owner might take issue with their intellectual property being visible, depending on the content of the streamed conversation. To minimize risk, please obscure logos by turning objects around, removing them from the visible area, or putting a shirt over your logo apparel.
  • Participation in this Blab conversation is entirely at the discretion of the host. If at any time, the host in his or her sole discretion should determine that your comments or actions are disruptive, threatening, racist or sexist, or otherwise offensive, you will be removed from the conversation.

Then let participants know they will be dropped from the Blab if they violate these guidelines. Of course, you’ll need to be actively participating and monitoring during the Blab, but you should do that anyway.

Individuals can (and do) make offensive or controversial statements and wear clothing with logos during video chats all the time. But brands have greater legal exposure when using tools like Periscope and Blab for marketing and promotion, so it makes sense to take steps that minimize risk.

Marketers should also pay special attention to Blab’s terms of service before participating. A couple of things to note:

First, by using Blab, you give the company a free license to use the content you stream.

Blab’s take on it

Review the full extent of that license by checking out Blab’s policy (yes, that’s a PDF: Thanks, Blab). The license is fairly sweeping in the rights it grants.

“You automatically grant us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license ot use, display, reproduce, transmit, modify (e.g. re-format, excerpt), re-arrange, distribute, and archive your User content on BLAB for the purposes of operating, organizing, promoting, and providing the Site and App to you and to our other current and prospective users. These are in addition to any other rights under separate licenses to User Content…”

That’s actually fairly standard among social media sites and other content platforms, so the license provision itself isn’t necessarily a reason to bow out of Blab entirely. (But do be aware of the rights you’re granting.)

In addition, know that you could be liable for participants’ violations of Blab’s policies. At minimum, you should report any violations as they occur, and flag users who repeatedly misbehave.

Per Blab’s Acceptable Use Policy:

As the one hosting the BLAB, you agree not to record user content that…

“violates, or encourages any conduct that violates laws or regulations,” or “contains any information that [BLAB] deem[s] to be hateful, violent, harmful, abusive, racially or ethnically offensive, defamatory, infringing, invasive of personal property or publicity rights, harassing, humiliating to other people (publicly or otherwise), libelous, threatening, profane, or otherwise objectionable.”

That, friends, is a wide net. Brands should err on the side of caution, and review Blab’s acceptable use policy in its entirety before hosting a branded Blab.

Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, so go forth and Blab. If your brand needs a start-up guide for using Blab, Social Media Examiner has a helpful primer.

Blab responsibly!

Kerry O’Shea Gorgonekerry gorgone is a writer, lawyer, speaker and educator. She’s also Instructional Design Manager, Enterprise Training, at MarketingProfs. Kerry hosts the weekly Marketing Smarts podcast. Find Kerry on Google+ and Twitter.


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