Minnesota Lawyer – Partner Content
Author: Aren K. Olson
Uh oh—your client just forwarded you a YouTube video. And, they’re in it! Your client didn’t tell the uploader that it was alright to use his/her image, name, or personal data. But a video containing them all ended up online anyway. What do you do?
For lawyers, the gut reaction may be to file suit. Content posted to YouTube can be defamatory and can violate privacy rights. Thus, legal tools do exist to deal with the problem. For example, in a recent Minnesota case a resident accused a property management company of perjury and other wrongs in numerous YouTube videos. Following, the property management company filed suit against the resident for defamation. After the property management company moved for summary judgment, the district court determined that the resident’s YouTube videos were defamatory per se. As a result, the district court ordered the resident to remove the videos from his YouTube channel.
While it is certainly possible to remove content posted to YouTube by filing suit, litigation may not always be the best way to deal with the problem. As an initial matter, litigation is both time-consuming and expensive. Consider that the case above took over two years to resolve, from the filing of the initial complaint to the conclusion of the resident’s appeal. Further, litigation is a matter of public record. Thus, any litigation undertaken to remove content from YouTube may well put the public on notice that the content exists. Given these drawbacks, it may be worth your while to take a few common-sense steps before filing suit. This article proposes three.