User-Generated Content — The Emerging Legal Threat

Protecting Against Unforeseen Risks: Infringement, Privacy Violations, Defamation, False Advertising, etc.

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Course Materials


Many companies are featuring user or consumer generated content in marketing campaigns to build product and brand awareness at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing. Such content includes customer contributions like reviews, testimonials and even videos demonstrating the use of a product.

However, unanticipated legal challenges are emerging from this marketing innovation — particularly infringement of IP rights. Companies and their counsel must be aware of the potential legal pitfalls associated with user-generated content and identify steps to reduce or mitigate those risks.

Listen as our authoritative panel of IP and advertising law specialists examines the new legal challenges of consumer-generated content and discusses the steps that companies can take to protect themselves from liability related to such content.



  1. User-created content
    1. What is it?
    2. How is it being used?
  2. Potential legal issues related to use of user-generated content
    1. Copyright infringement
    2. Trademark infringement
    3. Right of publicity/privacy
    4. Contributory infringement/vicarious liability
    5. Defamation, libel and slander
    6. False advertising/unfair competition
    7. Tort liability
    8. Idea misappropriation
  3. Best practices for protection when using user-generated content
    1. Identify use of submitted content
    2. Be upfront with submitters and on website
    3. Consumer agreement
    4. Screen or block, but do not edit, content
    5. Written releases
    6. Shifting risk to third parties
    7. Take advantage of statutory protections
    8. Use disclaimers
    9. Provide cleared elements


The panel reviewed these and other key questions: 

  • What legal issues typically arise from using consumer contributed content in marketing and advertising?
  • What are the unexpected legal landmines of using such content — and how can those risks be mitigated?
  • What are the basic steps to clear rights that every company must take prior to permitting any consumer content in its advertising?


Brian L. Heidelberger
Brian L. Heidelberger

Winston & Strawn

He concentrates his practice in advertising, marketing, e-commerce, and entertainment law matters. He litigates...  |  Read More

David C. Carroll
David C. Carroll
Director and Senior Counsel, Global Marketing and Advertising

He is responsible for legal issues related to consumer marketing and advertising, both online and offline. He counsels...  |  Read More

Brian D. Fergemann
Brian D. Fergemann
Winston & Strawn

He concentrates his practice in advertising, marketing, and promotions counseling and litigation, including trademark,...  |  Read More

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