Technology: Internet memes pose legal questions

In-house counsel must understand the implications of viral media

In general, a meme is an idea, a thought or an element of a culture (an image, quote, symbol, joke, etc.) that spreads throughout society from one person to another virally, i.e., in school, work or the media. Internet memes are typically “viral” videos or graphic images spread over the Web that include humorous phrases or dialogue added by the creator of the meme. What are the legal implications of Internet memes for your company, either when it desires to use a meme for advertising or marketing purposes or when a meme is circulating that identifies your company?

First, what if your company wants to create a meme to promote its business? In general, the meme should go through the same clearance process as any other advertisement created by or for your company.

Contributing Author

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Andy Goldstein

Andrew L. Goldstein is a partner in the Corporate Practice Group of Freeborn & Peters LLP. His areas of focus include multiple areas of intellectual...

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