I had the privilege of joining Staci Riordan, my fashion law colleague, in Los Angeles at Retail Camp 2011 to address the legal issues that affect fashion bloggers.
Moderated by Macala Wright of Fashionably Marketing Me, our panel began with Staci and I introducing ourselves and how we got into blogging. I explained my passion for fashion, my background and the need to express myself as an African (Nigerian)-American (American born) to diverse races represented in the room; and how I did so through my blog Ladybrille Blogazine and its evolution to Ladybrille Magazine. Staci equally shared her family history and her deeply rooted background in fashion. Wright was then ready to pose questions to us to help a room full of passionate and dedicated professionals so they could be confident when they returned to their jobs.
1. The Rise & Rise of Bloggers: Wright asked us to set the backdrop of the highly influential role that fashion bloggers now played. We discussed the growing influence of bloggers. We referenced the prior panel, “The Business of Blogging,” who pointed out that bloggers were never allowed at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and now they are, some even able to sit front row. We gave examples of WWD partnership with fashion bloggers. In terms of income, we pointed out examples including TheYBF.com who reported revenue of over $1million dollars from blogging, roughly two years ago. Blogging was lucrative business which means the law was an important thing to know as it related to that business. See WWD, Fashionista Bloggers & Tumblr elevating the status of Fashion Bloggers to VIP level.
2. Intellectual Property (IP) Laws: This served as a nice segue for Wright to discuss the law with us. She asked us about IP laws. What should bloggers know? We discussed Copyright Law and copyright infringements with a focus on content ownership and syndication issues. We also discussed the “Fair Use” doctrine and its application to bloggers, especially with excerpts vs the copying of an entire work, photos and where to get photos. We also discussed Trademark laws and the need for bloggers to trademark their names. There was so much to cover and so little time so we tried to stick to the basics.
3. Tort Law: Wright inquired about defamation laws, and from the angle of reputable blogers saying things about another blogger. We delved into Tort Law, broke down defamation and what constitutes defamation and addressed other issues including rights of publicity laws. Staci and I also narrowed in on the extra legal requirements that public figures must show to prevail on a defamation cause of action.
4. FTC Rules for Bloggers: We weren’t quite finished yet. Wright wanted to know about FTC rules for bloggers. FTC requires disclosure where bloggers receive samples from companies for a review. Samples includes services not just products. We addressed this and also pointed out the gray area of the rules given FTC’s interpretation of the Ann Taylor Loft Case.
5. The Business of Blogging, the Legal Side: Wright further inquired about reporting income to the IRS and the overall business of blogging. We briefly touched on the various legal entities a business may obtain and the reasons why they would: Sole proprietor, Partnership, LLC, C Corp, as we addressed the business of blogging, the legal side.
6. Blogging and Employment & Contract Law: We closed out with discussions on the kinds of contracts required for professional bloggers doing business with third parties including hiring writers, work made for hire agreements and the intellectual property overlap with employment law for bloggers who blog for their employers, among other points.
We had fun with our panel. Staci was funny and great to sit on a panel with. I think we worked off each other well. The video will be available soon. When it is, I will share with you all.
For me, personally, as I sat on the panel and looked into the room full of stylish, beautiful, passionate and committed fashion bloggers, I couldn’t help but think that all of us (fashion bloggers and fashion law attorneys alike) were on the cusp of an amazing revolution in both industries of which none of us know where the journey will take us. Who would have “tonk it” that fashion blogging which really began a little over six years ago will explode the way it has now? Did anyone think these bloggers would come together and join forces to make their industry even more powerful and relevant with a conference like Retail Camp? Who would have “tonk it” that they would know right off the bat that understanding the law was critical to the success of the Fashion Blogging industry? I was and remain really excited to see what the future holds!
I can’t wait until next year’s and I highly recommend any fashion blogger USA, Europe, Asia or Africa to check out the conference next year. I am convinced if organizers maintain this momentum, Retail Camp and its fashion blogger attendees will be truly a force to be reckoned with, within and outside the fashion industry.
FEEDBACK TWEETING FROM OUR PANEL (My twitter handler is @uduaklaw. @ladybrille was also used here)
bendonistyle So much amazing information. We need a day of Fashion Law! @StaciRiordan @Ladybrille #rcla #fmwu
birdsofafeather Fashion legal advice from some sassy experts. Refreshing and intelligent! Thanks @ladybrille @staciriordan #RCLA about 23 hours ago via web
excelamktg @staciriordan and @LadyBrille legal discussion was incredibly informative- thank you both! #RCLA 1 day ago via Twitter for iPhone
JamieLeighRay RT @FashMarketing: According to the lawyers, interns don’t tweet! #RCLA legal liabilities
LAInspiration http://fashionentlaw.com/blog/ for legal help! #rcla 1 day ago via web
FashMarketing Invest in a few hours of legal advice. Better than free or cheap. #RCLA
bendonistyle RT @NicoleMGiordano: I’m learning so much! Amazing free legal advice! Thanks ladies. 🙂 RT @FashionOffice: Blogger Law with @StaciRiordan & @LadyBrille #RCLA
rachellang11 RT @projectartisan: Thanks for all of the legal advice @StaciRiordan & @LadyBrille. Love it! #RCLA 1 day ago via Twitter for iPhone
NicoleMGiordano Me too! Intriguing stuff. RT @fashntrendguide: Thoroughly enjoying the helpful legal tips from @LadyBrille & @staciriordan @RetailCamp #RCLA 1 day ago via HootSuite
Recessionista Great panel! RT @projectartisan: Thanks for all of the legal advice @StaciRiordan & @LadyBrille. Love it! #RCLA 1 day ago via TweetDeck
twinksy Copyright violations on sites like YouTube, etc? Hire a lawyer or if you can’t afford, send letter to legal dept. via #rcla /@lovemoderne 1 day ago via web
twinksy Bloggers, we gotta disclose when we receive anything for review. It’s not complicated! Via Legal Side of Blogging panel #rcla /@lovemoderne
projectartisan Such great info today about legal issues when blogging. Working toward our blog relaunch and getting inspired at retail camp. #RCLA 1 day ago via Twitter for iPhone
rilexander RT @LAInspiration: “your name is everything. it’s your integrity.” @ladybrille #rcla
RetailCamp RT @tonialeung: LOVE! “I’m not interested in following the masses, I do Uduak.” -@LadyBrille #rcla
asuntabamini [RETAIL CAMP #RCLA] Need a Fashion & Entertainment Lawyer? Check out Uduak Oduok, Uduak Law Firm @LadyBrille http://fashionentlaw.com/
shebreathes We need a bullhorn for this one! RT @FashionOffice: Your name is everything. Protect your name. Register Your Trademark @LadyBrille #RCLA
tonialeung Agreed! So is @StaciRiordan! RT@VanessLaTigress @Ladybrille is informative and GORGE! @retailcamp. #rcla
Recessionista Gr8 discussion on FashionLaw RT @FashionOffice: Blogger Law with @StaciRiordan & @LadyBrille #RCLA
~Photocredit: Kaitlin Mattingly/Retail Camp