That’s a headline that’ll get us some hits.
Those two things turn out to be what’s on the minds of in-house lawyers at MySpace and Orkut (Google’s little-known social networking site).
The legal darlings of the Web 2.0 revolution spoke about the legal issues facing social networking sites at a panel discussion at Stanford Law School on Wednesday.
Mike Angus, GC at Fox Interactive Media (which controls MySpace), said that one thorny legal issue is people putting fake profiles of famous people on the Web site. It’s a fine line between defamation and free speech, because some of the fake profiles are meant to be parody or commentary, he explained.
Try telling that to Chuck Norris.
In one memorable case, the crime-fighting action-movie hero was none too happy about all the fake profiles of him on the site, like this hilarious one, and this not-so-funny-one. Angus said that the fearsome martial artist sent MySpace takedown notices. But instead of obeying all of Norris’ commands, like Legal Pad or any sane person would’ve done, MySpace invited him over for a chat. Once at the office, the man that strikes terror into wrongdoers softened up and saw the humor in the profiles, Angus said — he even took some pictures.
Another big thing that social networking sites worry about is their users uploading illegal content — like copyrighted material or child pornography. Many of the free sites, like Google’s Orkut, also prohibit good ol’ fashion pornography because of their community standards. Susan Infantino, a Google in-house lawyer, said Orkut had to sort out a difficult issue when many of the site’s Brazilian users (apparently the little-known site is, like, the most popular thing in Brazil and India) started posting pictures of themselves and others wearing thongs at the beach. Orkut decided that a Brazilian lady in a thong was not porn, Infantino said.
But it’s not a foolproof solution, Infantino acknowledged, because the more conservative users in India might be offended by the thongs: “What if we get a complaint from someone in India …,” Infantino was musing when fellow panelist and Facebook in-house lawyer Chris Kelly cut her off. “Is that why you’re so popular in India?” Kelly joked.
— Zusha Elinson