That Face is Written All Over Your Expression – Facebook Adds Ads

Hi. Do you like Legal Bytes? Have you told friends about Legal Bytes? Shared the link with at least 10 friends and colleagues? Have you told anyone about an article, a Useless But Compelling Fact or perhaps a Light Byte on Legal Bytes? Well, have you? I mean do you REALLY like Legal Bytes? If you do, please click the icon now:

What? Nothing happened? Well, that’s right. Nothing happened. Sorry to disappoint you, but aside from the satisfaction of reading very exciting and timely postings; thoroughly enjoying the insights; admiring the wit and wisdom of the authors and editor; and, we hope, feeling enlightened and mildly entertained – this is, after all, a legal website, and you get nothing. We don’t even publish comments or invite debates – that’s not what Legal Bytes is about. Oh, and we don’t use your name or email address. We just want you to read, and we thank you!

Not so any more on Facebook; and although I have been given absolutely nothing and have had no contact with any of the following companies about this or any other blog posting, here goes:

Have you been posting nice things on your friends’ Facebook pages about your morning Starbucks coffee or perhaps checking in at Steamboat Springs, eager to hit the slopes? Have you felt compelled to comment to a Facebook friend that you just bought a new General Motors Cadillac and how great it now looks and drives? Has your Twitter feed, your LinkedIn comment, or your Digg dig shown up on Facebook, remarking about the lovely feel of Proctor and Gamble’s Charmin bathroom tissue? Perhaps you have been browsing the official Facebook pages of MTV or Coca-Cola, or marveling at Kellogg’s Cares? Like what you see? Well just click the "Like" icon at the top of those pages to let them and the world know.

Advertisers will now be able to take your nice posts, comments, remarks and words – those messages posted about brands – or your "like" clicks, and turn them into advertisements and "sponsored stories" for your friends to see. Although they won’t be edited – not even the advertiser will be able to do that – postings on your wall that now show up on your "friends’" news feeds will now also show up on your friends’ home page, right along with the other advertisements – more noticeable and conspicuous to be sure.

Although you won’t be notified it’s happening and you can’t opt out, don’t worry about someone stealing your words or preferences. The ad will have your name and profile photo, and will appear as an advertisement, along with the others, only now labeled as a "Sponsored Story." Going one better than "word of mouth," your posts, your check-ins and your likes will be as plain as the expression on your Facebook. According to what we have read, Facebook has stated that "A sponsored story never goes to somebody who’s not one of your friends."

So far the griping has not been whether Facebook has the right, or even about keeping the ads limited to Facebook "friends" who already can see your postings. It’s been about not being told that my "check-in," which enables me to connect with others while I’m on the move, is now going to be used to "promote" the places I check into – without my approval or without me necessarily knowing. If my neighborhood diner is going to get an endorsement (explicitly or implicitly), do I get royalties (or a complimentary egg-white omelet)? Listen up, Converse, I need a new pair of sneakers. 

Transcending the Cloud – Financial Services: Show Me the Money!

This post was written by Joseph Rosenbaum, Adam Snukal and Leonard Bernstein.

Welcome to the New Year. As they do each year, clouds, together with some sunshine (and a cold winter blast periodically in our Northern Hemisphere), roll in, too.

Last year we published a number of topical updates to our Cloud Computing initiative – new chapters and white papers intended to provoke thought, stimulate ideas and, most of all, demonstrate the thought leadership Rimon attorneys bring to bear when innovative and important trends and initiatives in the commercial world give rise to new and interesting legal issues.

So here, from Adam Snukal, Len Bernstein, and Joe Rosenbaum, is a glimpse at some issues that apply to the world of financial services arising from Cloud Computing. This next chapter in Rimon’s on-going series, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing,” is titled “Look, Up in the Cloud, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Bank.” This white paper examines the issues that arise within financial services institutions in the wake of complex and evolving regulation and scrutiny, and we hope it provides some insight into the considerations and concerns that apply, even while the industry and the regulatory landscape are still evolving. A special note of thanks to Anthony S. Traymore, an Advertising Technology & Media associate and a good friend and colleague, who has now joined the legal department of a Rimon client. Anthony was instrumental in helping put the initial topical white paper draft together while at Rimon, and we like to give credit where credit is due – both here and in the white paper itself. Thanks Anthony.

As we do each time, we have updated the entire work so that, in addition to the single “financial services” white paper, you can access and download a PDF of the entire “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing” compendium, up to date and including all of the previous chapters in one document.

Of course, feel free to contact Adam Snukal, Len Bernstein or Joe Rosenbaum directly if you have any questions or require legal counsel or assistance related to financial services. Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information. And if you ever have questions, you can always contact any Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.

Bots, Gaming and Copyright Law – International Law Office

Brad Newberg, in Rimon’s Virginia office, has authored a brief, insightful analysis of the copyright implications arising from the use of “bots” in gaming. Published in Legal Bytes initially, it has now (January 20, 2011) been published by the Media & Entertainment – USA newsletter of the International Law Office (ILO), written exclusively by Rimon lawyers and edited by Joe Rosenbaum, with the support of ILO.

This is a timely and important note, and you can read it either by using the link Bots in Game Play Questionable Under Copyright Law, or by downloading a personal copy for reading any time here: Copyright – Bots and Game (PDF). Of course, if you have questions or need help or more information, feel fee to contact Brad Newberg directly.

Digital Media – Recent IP Developments and More

On Thursday, February 10, 2011, Rimon’s own Emily Kirsch and Brad Newberg will be presenting a seminar entitled: Practical Implications of Recent Developments in Digital Media. The seminar will provide practical, real-world guidance to content owners and users, ISPs – actually, any enterprise with a website and content (that’s all of you, right?), speaking about the rapidly developing law of rights, responsibilities and liabilities arising from activity on the Internet:

  • Recent developments in safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
  • Copyright fair use and the Internet
  • Keyword search advertising
  • Morphing of trademark uses – what’s fair and what’s not – from metatags to invisible text

This CLE/CPD-eligible course (2.0 credits; Practice Skills and Knowledge) is available for attorneys (experienced and transitional) admitted in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and Illinois, as well as in the UK. Those of you licensed in Delaware and Virginia, we can apply for you if needed – let us know. This course will only be presented LIVE in our New York office at 4 p.m., February 10; and since it will not be broadcast in either audio or video, you will need to be present to attend and get credit. 

Of course, a reception for the attendees will follow the course. How good is that – wisdom, credit and munchies! So if you are a client of the firm (or are willing to become one) and you want to register, don’t call me. Contact Anna Farhadian by email at or by telephone at +1 212 702 1399. 

If you would prefer to register directly, just select this REGISTER link to be taken to the registration page. See you there!

Mobile Marketing & Privacy – Gnus from DataGuidance

In connection with an announcement by the Mobile Marketing Association, Joe Rosenbaum was interviewed by London-based, Rita Di Antonio, Journalist and Editor of DataGuidance (and Managing Editor of Data Protection Law & Policy), a publication of Cecile Park Publishing Ltd. You can read the article online “MMA to discuss ‘comprehensive mobile privacy guidelines’ during January forum”, or download your own copy in PDF Format.

Net Neutrality? Much Ado or Nothing To Do?

Here is how Wikipedia (as of January 4, 2011) defines "Network neutrality":

"Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a buzzword used to describe a principle proposed for users’ access to networks participating in the Internet. The principle advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication." The Wikipedia article, which goes on for pages, and with more than 100 footnotes and citations, then says, "The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of Internet access, and another user pays for the same level of access, then the two users should be able to connect to each other at the subscribed level of access."

Now I confess. Lawyers are often accused of writing 1000 word manifestos and calling them "briefs," but I have read and re-read the definition and the ensuing pages of "clarification." I’ve paid attention in the media and to learned articles. I have no clue what "net neutrality" means. I do, however, take comfort in the fact that if you read the Wikipedia article, and dozens, if not hundreds of other articles, you will see that nobody really has a well-defined meaning of what "net neutrality" is.

But good news. I think I know why all of this confusion exists. It’s actually pretty simple. Take the words apart. When you think of the Internet and World Wide Web – references now include wireless and mobile as part of this amorphous, nebulous cloud (oops, another buzzword) – it’s simply hard to define. It is dynamically evolving. It has features, functions and uses that morph almost daily. The devices change. The transmissions change. "Internet" has different meanings for different people, from different perspectives, at different points in time, and even the names and categories of parties injecting themselves into the debate are changing.

Then there’s "neutrality." What does that mean? Switzerland is neutral. Is it? Everybody on board? Any questions? Good. We all know what that means – especially when referring to the Internet. Right? Technology? Economics? Pricing? Access? Shall we go on? I think not. Perhaps government regulators use the term "neutrality" because it is a term often applied to conflict – wars. Perhaps there is a war going on. A turf war over which government agency gets to control what and who and where and when – not to mention who wants to tax it. Darn, I promised not to mention taxes.

In recent years, the FCC has sought to take the lead in being an advocate for "net neutrality," despite having its share of difficulties with the courts. Undeterred, in December, the FCC released a new report proposing "net neutrality" – a proposal to regulate the Internet. [See, e.g., cnet news article FCC makes Net neutrality rules official.] Remember how easy it is to define the Internet? The vote was hardly unanimous: 3–2. Have you read the FCC document? Almost 200 pages. The legal standard for regulation: "reasonableness."

Now I confess I did start to salivate reading the report. Think about it. We are lawyers. Who wants certainty? Think of all the litigation and dispute, the angst, the risk memoranda, and the frantic consultations that might be avoided if there was certainty. No, no, who am I to call for clarity.

The discussion reminds me of a wryly humorous tale of an architect, engineer and lawyer, all debating what profession the Lord would have chosen. The architect extols the talent necessary to envision and lay out detailed plans for the creation of heavens and earth and everything within – surely a task for an architectural genius. "Nay," cries the engineer. The greatest master builder that ever was and ever will be. "Who else could possibly build such glorious work? Who else could bring such magnificent order out of such utter and sheer chaos?" exclaims the engineer. Quietly the lawyer looks up and whispers, "First and foremost, the Lord would have been a lawyer." Quizzically, the two peer over at the attorney for an explanation. The lawyer lowers the reading glasses and whispers, "Who else could have created such utter and sheer chaos?"

So I’m risking my own self-interest to say, please, FCC Chairman Genachowski and all the others at the FTC, the Department of Commerce – I’m not even going to go overseas for this one. Please end the meaningless war over what, who, why, how, where and when the Internet needs to be controlled in order for it be "neutral." Stop! Nobody knows what you mean or what it means. Change words. Change focus.

How about "net vitality"? Worry about innovation. Encourage competition. Stimulate commercial robustness. Protect the helpless, the vulnerable – intervene where you must, no argument. But IMHO, in this case, less is more. Bayless Manning, former Dean of Stanford Law School and past president of the Council of Foreign Relations (although in a different context), summed up the problem best when he noted, "As batting averages are to baseball players, stars to restaurants, ribbons to generals and stock price to corporate executives, so new statutes are at the heart of the scorekeeping system by which legislators are measured and measure themselves. No legislator ever gained renown as a great non-law giver." Perhaps this too can change.

In My Humble Opinion – IMHO or I.M.H.O. or even IMO

Happy New Year! We are inaugurating a new feature of Legal Bytes—a category of blog postings entitled “In My Humble Opinion,” or IMHO for short. The first such posting will be up momentarily, but here’s what to expect.

Every once in a while a legal issue or something trending in the legal world catches our fancy. Perhaps it’s not an event or a decision or an article, but just a growing sense something is happening.

In our endeavor to not just report on news or noteworthy occurrences, and in our attempt to enlighten as well as inform—these pieces are intended to stimulate your thinking and share some of mine. I might produce two in a week or none for a month—I don’t know. It’s part of my own evolution as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer for Legal Bytes—but it’s worth a try.

As always, even though we don’t provide for interactive dialog or chat on this blog, I do read every piece of email (can you actually have a piece of email, or do I digest every electron?), and I do value your comments and feedback.

Buckle up folks. Another ride is coming your way. Let me know what you think of IMHO as it unfolds. Thanks for reading.

Useless But Compelling Facts – January 2011

Well how’s this folks? Lots of answers, but only one person got last month’s Useless But Compelling Fact question correct: James Griffin, lawyer extraordinaire at PNC Bank!! Kudos and congratulations . . . it was a tough one. We asked you to tell us the name of the great white shark in Jaws and who it was named after. Did you really have to stretch for this one – its name was "Bruce," named after Mr. Spielberg’s attorney, Bruce Raimer.

Continuing our theme of "what’s in a name," this month we would like you to tell us where the phrase "your name is mud" comes from.

If you are the first to send me the complete and correct answer, you’ll win. Please send your answers directly to me at  Good luck!