Foundry Law Group Blog

Responsible User Generated Content Management

The balance between managing your company’s interest and maintaining the integrity of your user’s intellectual property CAN and SHOULD be a SYMBIOTIC relationship.

Social Media Campaigns, sweepstakes, and crowd sourcing are great ways to solicit ideas, inspire innovation, produce relevant videos, photographs, and testimonials, build user engagement, and cultivate your brand. However, high profile companies, which i’m sure you can think of a few as you read this, have learned the hard way that curating content without clear intentions can be disastrous for the company’s trust with its users and reputation. Rather than waiting until the damage is done, it is critical to take steps NOW to ensure your intent is clear and you convey a message of respect for your user’s proprietary rights.



1.  Describe your Intent: Be specific and transparent about how you intend to use the user content to derive commercial value. Whether it be to sell it, curate it to ultimately deliver an end product, or to use it to drive users to the service or application– regardless of how you might derive value out of the content you need to communicate with the users your intent.

2. Set Expectations: Users have an expectation that they will not be exploited. It is critical to your success to explain to the users that you are requesting a license to use their proprietary information for value.  The license should be limited and should coincide with your intent. Be sure to give users the option not to participate or opt out. In addition, a company should reassure its user that it respects their privacy by having a clear and concise privacy policy.

3. Give something of Value.  There is no such thing as a free lunch; and the saying applies here as well. Users are not going to engage unless they are getting something out of the deal. Most user generated activities offer an award for participation. Rules and Regulations are a great way to provide limitations and describe in detail what a user may or may not “win”, how to “win” the award, and what will happen with their content during and after the activity.

Conveying the above points through a solid set of transparent rules, disclaimers, terms, and regulations will help you manage your users and their content.  Being respectful of user contribution will go a long way in maintaining trust and generating new unique users.

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