Published by LawTechie - February 8, 2013 - LawTechie

Internet LawHOUSE BILL NO. 1455, introduced today in the ND state legislature would allow survivors to inherit the “account of a decedent on any social networking website, microblogging or short message service website, or e-mail service website , except for any copyrighted material that may be hosted on a file sharing hosting site.” Full bill here.

The bill also prohibits employers from asking employees for access to their social media accounts. I have written about this development across several states, including recently in Illinois, so I will not go into this part of the bill except to reiterate my earlier point: Whether or not the law allows employers to do this, I think it is a bad idea for companies to view their employee’s social media because it exposes employers to all sorts of nasty discrimination claims should the disgruntled employee ever find themselves terminated.

Returning to the social media inheritance “clause,” I cannot help but note the (once again) transparent role that Big IP has played in lobbying the ND legislature to stick that “except for any copyrighted material” language into the bill — clearly a certain industry does not want you inheriting grandpa’s old collection of pirated flicks that he kept stored in that DropBox account. (I’m not against this sort of protection for copyright holders per se, I am just amazed by how much pull Big IP has with the lawmakers as well as how easy it is to spot this sort of corporate-government collusion when it comes to IP legislation. Also I cannot help but wonder whether this sloppy add-on language takes into account the possibility of inheriting honestly purchased copyrighted material…)

Thanks to my buddy Rob Port of the SayAnythingBlog — North Dakota’s premier politics blog — for this scoop.

LawTechie is a blog focusing on trends in tech and digital media. Areas covered include intellectual property, cyberlaw, venture capital, transactions and litigation as they relate to the emerging sectors. The blog is edited by the firm's partner Tim Bukher with contributions from the firm's experts in their respective areas of law.


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