‘Oh, Really?’ Facing up to ‘Facebook,’ the law

In ‘Oh, Really?’ the Biederman Blog’s editors — voracious consumers of all matters pop culture — cast a curious, skeptical, fun and smart end-of-the-week eye on popular productions, sharing their keen observations about legal matters these raise. The social networking phenomenon Facebook recently attained new heights as an integral part of pop culture when the film, The Social Network, achieved public acclaim by winning three Oscars this year. While it will be of continuing interest to see whether any of the characters depicted in the film do file legal complaints about their cinematic portrayals — as it is unlikely that permission for such use was requested by the movie’s producers — the social media site has spawned some novel legal situations in and of itself. In considering a litigious proceeding involving the Facebook movie, as noted by attorney Aaron Moss, “these individuals have a choice fraught with irony: to succeed on a libel-by-fiction claim, a plaintiff must prove that she’s similar enough to a fictional character that the audience will think the film is about her — but at the same time that she’s different enough from the portrayal that her reputation is harmed by it.” On another semi-legal note, the site’s founder himself claimed his safety was threatened by a man who persistently asked for money via Facebook messages and appeared at his home and office. As a...

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