I'm a YouTube Influencer. Why will I be sued?

May 01, 2019

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Our fourth minisode of "The Creative Influencer" podcast is available today for download on iTunes, Spotify, and premier platforms everywhere. In minisodes, we answer questions that our listeners have emailed Jon. In this minisode, Jon answers a question about the five most common ways a YouTuber can find themself in legal peril.

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A transcript of the episode follows:

Welcome to the minisode. Today we have an e-mail from Monica. The subject line says: "Suing a YouTuber."

The email reads:

Subject: Suing a YouTuber

Hi Jon,

A couple of weeks ago you talked about GiGi Hadid being sued by a paparazzi. My friends and I were having mimosas at brunch last weekend and we were talking about GiGi's lawsuit. That led me to wonder when a YouTuber can be sued. I hope you read my e-mail.

Best,
Monica

Okay, Monica, here we go. I hope you didn't drink too many mimosas. I certainly hope that you took an Uber home, but I'm pretty sure you didn't write me to get drinking advice.

So to the question you asked, when can a YouTuber be sued? There are lots of things that a YouTuber can do to get herself sued. She could hurt someone and be sued because of a car accident, but I'm pretty sure that's not what you meant.

Let me give you the top 5 ways a YouTuber can be sued:

First, to breach a contract with a brand by not posting what she agreed to post. The lesson? Do what you agreed to do.

Second, copyright. As Gigi taught us, you can't use someone else's copyrighted material. The lesson? Get permission before you use somebody else's material.

Third is defamation. At its heart, defamation is a false statement about a third party that harms that person's reputation. The lesson? Don't spread lies about someone else.

Fourth is the right of publicity. That's where you use someone's name, image, or likeness to make money. The lesson? Get permission before you use someone's name, image, or likeness to make money.

The last is trademark infringement. Here, the lesson is: don't use someone else's trademark in a way that could confuse an average consumer. In other words, don't use somebody's trademark.

Those are the big five ways a YouTuber could get sued. We could go into a lot of depth, but I'm sure that's not what you were after.

Thanks for the email, Monica, and thank you for listening.


The Creative Influencer is a weekly podcast where we discuss all things creative with an emphasis on Influencers. The podcast is hosted by Jon Pfeiffer, an entertainment attorney in Santa Monica, California. Jon interviews influencers, creatives, and the professionals who work with them.

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