Consumers on Fyre: Influencer Marketing and Recent Reactions of the United States Federal Trade Commission

 

*Content re-posted from the Stanford-Vienna Transatlantic Technology Law Forum  – Transatlantic Antitrust and IPR Developments, Bimonthly Newsletter, Issue No. 3/2017 (June 12, 2017)

 

Social Media Disruptions

Silicon Valley continues to change our world. Technology-driven innovations that are disseminated with the help of the Internet have met with great success. This success translates into heaps of followers, as one can see in the case of platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. However, it is the followers themselves who continually affect the purposes of these platforms. A good example in this sense is Youtube; what started out as an alternative channel for the sharing of low-resolution home videos soon became a place where users could actually create their own content professionally. If well-received, this content leads to real Internet phenomena, and eventually become monetized, via direct or indirect advertising. Individuals around the world now have access to their own TV-stations where they can attract funders and actually make a good living out of running their channels.

Online content creation raises issues that are similar to those in the sharing economy (e.g. Uber, Airbnb, etc.). On the one hand, online platforms connect individual content providers with viewers, in the same peer-to-peer fashion that AirBnB connects an apartment owner and a tourist. Given the service-orientation of both activities, provided they are monetized, a clear issue emerges: when does an individual stop being a peer? In other words, what does it mean to be a consumer in this environment? Relatedly, what legal standards apply to the process of creating such content?

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Research on Dispute Resolution Clauses by Maryam Salehijam

Maryam Salehijam is a European Law School (Faculty of Law, Maastricht University) alumna who is currently doing her PhD research at the Transnational Law Centre of the University of Ghent under the supervision of Maud Piers. Maryam is undertaking research on the familiarity of legal professionals (including lawyers and third-party neutrals) with dispute resolution clauses which provide for non-binding ADR mechanisms such as mediation and conciliation. Her research focuses on legal professionals from the following jurisdictions: Austria, Australia, England & Wales, Germany, Singapore, the Netherlands, and the United States.

For her research, Maryam is gathering data by means of a short questionnaire which can be accessed here and which Maryam elaborates on below. Should you have any expertise in the relevant jurisdictions and would like to contribute to her research, we kindly invite you to have a look at the questionnaire or contact Maryam directly.

By Maryam Salehijam:

​Call to Participate in a Questionnaire on Dispute Resolution Clauses

There is a lack of clarity regarding the obligations that arise from dispute resolution agreements with a mediation/conciliation component. In order to reduce this uncertainty, a chapter of the BOF funded PhD research of Maryam Salehijam (supervisor: Professor Maud Piers) from the Transnational Law Center at the University of Ghent focuses on the question “What are the parties’ obligations under an ADR agreement?”

To answer this question, the research is divided into two stages: the first stage involves a questionnaire that assesses the familiarity of legal professionals –including lawyers and third-party neutrals- in selected jurisdictions (Austria, Australia, England & Wales, Germany, Singapore, the Netherlands, and the United States) with dispute resolution clauses calling for non-binding ADR mechanisms such as mediation/conciliation. Moreover, the questionnaire provides willing participants the opportunity to copy and paste a model or previously utilized dispute resolution clause. In the second stage, the clauses gathered as well as clauses extracted from other sources will be content coded using the software NVivo in order to determine which obligations tend to be reoccurring in the majority of the clauses under analysis.

The questionnaire targets individuals who have experience with commercial dispute resolution. The participation in the short questionnaire will require minimum effort, as most questions only require a simple mouse-click. Please note that the information entered in the survey is kept anonymous unless indicated to the contrary by the participants. Moreover, as the analysis takes place on an aggregated level, the findings will not disclose personally identifiable information. Accordingly, the information provided will only serve scientific purposes.

To complete the questionnaire, please click here to access the survey. The closing date of the survey is 29th April 2017.

If you wish to provide the model/previously used dispute resolution clauses without completing the questionnaire, please email Maryam Salehijam at maryam.salehijam@ugent.be

Maryam Salehijam

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Innovating Private Law: On Law and Technology (Pavia, 8 February)

On 8 February I had the pleasure to accompany Jan Smits for a visit to Pavia, where we gave a presentation titled ‘Innovating Private Law: On Law and Technology’, on the third day of the Innovating Legal Studies and Practice Winter School 2017.

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Snapshot: 11th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies (CELS)

Computer courts are not science fiction. Intuitively, an important limitation of computer adjudicators is that the procedure becomes impersonal. Consequently, users may prefer human adjudicators over software adjudication. The research of Ayelet Sela suggests otherwise. She tested whether litigants preferred a human mediator over a software mediator. Using an electronic environment that was developed to analyze online dispute resolution, she found that the software mediator was preferred to the human mediator, and not the other way around. Individuals even felt they could express their views better when using an interface. The paper was presented at the Conference of Empirical Legal Studies, which was held on 18/19 November 2016 at Duke University. Click here for the paper.

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Make the Code Civil great again: M-EPLI Talk with Dr. Matthias Martin – “R.I.P. Cause (1804-2016): A Paradigmatic Shift in the French Law of Obligations”

By William Bull and Tara Benjamin (European Law School Bachelor student)

 

On 9th November 2016, M-EPLI had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Matthias Martin from the Université de Bretagne Sud, who delivered a talk on the recent reforms of the French civil code, and in particular, the ‘death’ of cause in French contract law.

With its proud historical origins rooted in the era of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French Code Civil stands apart from other civil law systems insofar as the law of obligations it embodies has not been the object of any fundamental reforms in the last 200 years. For this reason, the recent reform of the Code Civil (Ordinance 2016-131, February 10 2016) is widely viewed not only as a substantive change but also a symbolic shift in French private law. Although, according to Dr. Martin, the reform does not constitute a full-blown revolution; rather it should be understood as ‘just a revolt.’

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Caroline Cauffman at the European Consumer Summit 2016

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This year’s Summit is entirely dedicated to the fitness check of EU consumer and marketing law in the framework of Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT). ‘Fitness Check’ is a comprehensive policy evaluation aimed at assessing whether the regulatory framework for a particular policy sector is ‘fit for purpose’.

Consumer policy represents one of the most significate achievements of EU single market and makes a tangible difference in the lives of the European citizens. EU consumer and marketing law guarantees a high level of consumer protection and facilitates cross-border trade in goods and services.

The Fitness Check’s objective is to evaluate the functioning of the existing rules and to identify the needs for modernisation, so that EU citizens continue to benefit of a high level of consumer protection and at the same time economic operators, especially SMEs have a clear and fair level-playing field.

During the Summit, we will discuss in particular issues around consumer information requirements, the fairness of commercial practices and of contractual terms and ways to enhance the effectiveness of the injunction procedure. Representatives of national authorities, European institutions, consumer organisations, businesses as well as academics will be invited to contribute to the discussions, which will feed into the Commission’s examination. A number of prominent speakers have already confirmed participation.

Over the years, the European Consumer Summit has become a valuable occasion to increase awareness concerning consumer policy and a key tool to mainstream consumer interests in key EU policies.

European Commission
Directorate General for Justice & Consumers

The European Consumer Summit 2016 highlighted the need for better enforcement of the EU consumer protection rules. The results of the workshop that aimed at formulating concrete proposals for enhancing the effectiveness of the injunctions procedure were presented by our own Caroline Cauffman: https://webcast.ec.europa.eu/european-consumer-summit# (as of 16:13).

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