By: Lori T. Williams, Owner/Managing Attorney of Your Legal Resource, PLLC
Most of us have seen the Movie, Jerry Maguire, with actors Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Renee Zellweger. Birmingham Attorney, Michael Melfi, has enjoyed a career as a Sports and Entertainment Lawyer since 2002, and has recently added Cyber Law and Social Media Law into his areas of focus.
Being an Entertainment and Sports Lawyer isn’t exactly like what you see in the movie Jerry Maguire, notes Melfi. “There are many aspects to the industries beyond the athletes and entertainers, including coaches, broadcasters, arenas, associations, and vendors. It involves intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, negotiating contracts, litigating disputes and defending criminal matters. Often the role of a sports and entertainment lawyer takes on many hats beyond the legal realm. In many instances, the sport and entertainment lawyer becomes a marketing strategist, a PR and reputation manager, as well as, a best friend looking out for the personal and professional interest of the client.”
In Michigan, the ending of film incentives dried up a good portion of the entertainment law in the region. However, Cyber and Social Media law seems to have taken its place. Melfi believes that, “every business with an online presence has potential cyber issues and any organization with multiple employees could have the need for a Social Media Policy.”
Over the last decade, attorney Michael Melfi operated a few multi-media companies. As COO & General Counsel, Melfi pioneered various experiential and digital marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 clients, and provided brand positioning and image consulting to professionals and celebrities. As a thought leader and innovator, Melfi began utilizing the internet and various social media platforms to develop an online presence for his company in the top 1% of all websites globally. Through these experiences and involvement with the digital platform, Melfi gained valuable insight into the legal and business ramifications of the internet, and specifically social media.
Melfi left the corporate world and returned to private practice in 2011, setting up his new office in downtown Birmingham, MI. ”I wanted to focus on providing results oriented and financially responsible legal services for forward thinking clients who operate in a Web 2.0 world.” Melfi & Associates provides clients with Sports and Entertainment Law services, with a focus on Cyber and Social Media Law and Digital PR and Reputation Management. Melfi notes, “as part of our legal services, we assist in resolving legal issues for our clients and protect their digital assets and valuable proprietary rights.”
There are many “hot topics” in cyber law and social media law these days, including:
- Intellectual Property matters as they relate to Copyright issues: Who owns the rights to images or content that is created on various online outlets including social media? Click here for an article on this topic.
- Addressing Freedom of Speech issues for individual clients: What rights does an individual have as it relates to social media and what can a company, organization, team or university legally prohibit or ban? Click here for an article on this topic.
- Employment Law as it relates to privacy issues: Does an employer have rights to utilize Social Media for the hiring process? Click here for an article on this topic.
- Anti-Discrimination: Can a company, organization, team or university utilize social media prior to making a decision to award or deny an applicant, proposal or request? Click here for article on this topic.
- Fair Labor Standards Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act: Does an employer have rights to utilize Social Media for the hiring process? Click here for article on this topic.
- Creation and Implementation of Social Media Usage Policies for organizations and their Human Resources team. Read Melfi’s white paper for additional information on this topic.
- Internet Defamation: What can someone say or not say on the internet as it relates to another person or entity. Click here for an example of one successful defamation suit.
Melfi offers these tips for his clients on the use of social media:
- Create honest, trusted and authentic communication through active listening.
- Protect your Intellectual Property and online assets through proper documentation.
- Have a target or goal for your online efforts to measure results.
Since Cyber Law is still new and somewhat mysterious, there are some misconceptions about it. Melfi notes that, “Cyber Law is not just about geeky computer issues. It includes real world issues that affect daily business operations and finances. As our world and our businesses evolve into a digital space, what we do daily can turn into a litigious matter. New laws are beginning to take shape right now in this area, and they will continue to evolve over time.”
For more information, visit www.melfiassociates.com.