Hello! Today, we're hosting Mike Wolfe, Tim Hwang, and Lea Rosen, experienced media attorneys we're working with to provide some legal support for Substack writers. Mike, Tim, and Lea's work for Substack will cover copyright issues, and claims related to defamation, libel, and confidentiality. To kick off this first version of the 'Substack Defender' program, they'll be live in this discussion thread for the next hour (and perhaps a little beyond that), so you can ask them anything. Send in your questions on editorial-related legal matters now!
(ALSO: Please be aware that these answers are general, and are NOT personal legal advice. Mike, Tim, and Lea cannot give you personalized legal advice in this format. They can answer broad questions, but if you need specific advice about a particular situation, they cannot provide it in this format. They are ONLY offering general information about the law. By answering your question, they are NOT agreeing to represent you in any capacity.)
Hi everyone! Excited to be here. You’ve got the whole Wolfe, Rosen, and Hwang legal team here.
Mike is our IP guy. He runs a copyright and trademark practice, but also does all kinds of intermediary liability and media law. He was the founding executive director of the advocacy organization Authors Alliance, and teaches as a fellow at Duke Law.
Tim is an attorney specializing in startup and technology law. Previously, he was at Google, where he was the company's global public policy lead on artificial intelligence, leading outreach to government and civil society on issues surrounding the social impact of the technology.
Lea is our partner with the courtroom experience, from immigration removal defense to personal injury. She’s admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of California, the Executive Office of Immigration Review, and the Central District of California.
Let us know if you have any questions!
What should a writer do if they receive a cease-and-desist letter that they feel is unjustified and perhaps even suspect is an act of intimidation?
That’s it for us today! Thank you all so much for your questions -- we tried to get to as many as possible, and hopefully even if we didn’t get to your question, we answered a similar one elsewhere in the thread.
If you’d like us to do more things like this in the future, be sure to give the Substack team a shout and let them know you liked it!
We’re delighted to be able to help out the Substack community - thanks again for having us. Feel free to give us a shout to Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org if there’s specific issues you have or if there’s anything else we can lend a hand on.
What are the best practices for using photos, .gifs, etc. found on the internet? Substack makes it very easy to put those into newsletters, but what are the legal issues there?
Should buy publishers insurance?
Hello! I'm wondering about the copyright laws regarding newspapers published pre-1970s. Can I use a digital scan of an article online?
Is is worth registering my own (straight political journalism) newsletter as an LLC? And if I do that will I owe additional business taxes?
Hi, Have some generalized questions. Hope to get advice from pros like you. 1) what are the limitations that we need to follow when writing for health related niche? 2) Are referencing research sites/paper sufficient when giving advice on the blog sufficient? 3) Are diet plans/lifestyle advice's are as sensitive as medical advice? Thanks!
This related to video embedded in a newsletter but in practice is using a short clip of someone else’s video if the purpose is to provide commentary and illustrate a point with it fair use? How often is action brought regarding that?
What's the fair use line on putting screenshots from a TV show in a TV review? Are, say, 10 screenshots that back up the content fair game, or could that cause a problem?
Do you recommend publishers purchase insurance from companies that specialize in insuring publishers or do most companies offer good coverage? Do you have any recommendation on how to go about identifying options and selecting an insurance provider?
Hi there! I write daily inspirational messages for my membership. Do I have protection over my work to prevent people from reposting my words on social media or redistributing my emails?
I just came across this thread. I will see if anyone out there is still responding. I just bought an image on Getty Images to use on my substack. It says the Licence type is Rights-managed. I have read through the licensing policy once and about to go through it again. My understanding is I am good to go for non-comercial use. But what happens if I start charging subscribers? Is that not a sort of commercial use?
I just want to use a picture of Patti Smith in an article about Patti Smith, giving the photographer credit under the image. I want to know if I am doing things properly.
Can you advise on legal cases in India?
Do you know someone who can?
Adding to what Bryce wrote in a thread here, so a curated newsletter where the headline and the intro( 1st para) are re-written and a link given to the original article is fine under the copyright laws, I guess? And the same would also be ok for a curated news website?
If a person was hired as a ghostwriter and the written book was published by the recruiter without paying the full quote and without informing the ghostwriter, can the ghostwriter take any legal actions if the contract was not on paper but mails were transferred?
Thank you for your time! 🌟
For work that is published in the United States for a predominantly US-based audience, how do foreign countries copyright laws impact liability? For example, if I publish something under very reasonable fair use that passes muster in the US, but that content is then consumed in the UK/EU/Korea/Russia/etc. would the Fair Use exceptions carry over to those places if there are different rights holders in those countries?
Hi, I was want to start a wild life travel newsletter, will there be any legal issues regarding this niche?
If I posted an image that is copyright protected on a financial blog article, do I have to pay editorial or commercial use fees? The website sells newsletter subscriptions, but the image was used within the blog portion of the site in an article that was public/free and not written specifically to sell anything. It was commentary on central bank policy with a link at the bottom to go to a page to sign up for the newsletter. Is this editorial or commercial? Because the fees vary greatly depending on use.
If I repost a meme on my website that someone else created and posted first, but used a copyright protected image, do I have to pay licensing?
I'd assume at this point your firm has seen a few frequently-asked-questions. If this assumption is true, can you share one or two of those FAQ's? Prob would reduce a bunch of people asking the same question if you hear it frequently
Am I running afoul of any laws using screenshots of websites in my review/recommendation newsletter? Are there best practices you’d recommend?
One Useful Thing: A weekly newsletter of helpful and well-designed things.
Hi, I am curious about the practices around getting permission to republish an article on my website that was originally published on another website. I assume getting permission from the author. Maybe permission must be from publisher, if author is not the one to give the permission. Do you recommend I do more than 'save' the email reply back from the author giving permission? Better to have a release form the author electronically signs giving permission? I want to mitigate risk of being reported for copyright violation in future and do it systematically as our website would be republishing articles on frequent recurring basis.
What's the general rule for linking other news articles? If I copy and paste the article headline (and link) or if I change the headline (and link), any copyright issues with that?
Need for E&O insurance?
Can you talk about getting music cleared on a podcast? I.E. if I wanted an intro song for my podcast, how difficult is it to choose one/use it? Do I need to run it through tons of legal shenanigans to do so? Same for simply playing a clip of a song on the show. Thanks!
Should I be concerned about liability over giving advice that people used in their business that (they felt) didn’t work out?
Hello! Can you weigh in on things newsletter writers on Substack should be thinking about regarding spam laws, GDPR etc -- anything to think about as we try to grow lists?
what would you say are the basic requirements for bloggers and newsletter writers in the US that also have a social media presence to be legally save on all these platforms? (Blog on own Webspace, Newsletter on Substack, Social Media on various platforms).
Thank you very much!
Hi folks - under what circumstances are we who write about news & policy on Substack considered to be journalists, and as such covered by various first amendment protections?