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Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?

19 Sep 16 - 08:36 AM (#3810417)
Subject: Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?
From: Murray MacLeod

If you have been to a Jez Lowe concert recently you will no doubt have heard him sing his very funny song "Nobody Wants To Be My Facebook Friend".

He has refrained from recording this song because of perceived legal implications concerning the mentioning of Facebook. I am no legal expert, but I would have thought intuitively that there is no legal reason why Facebook cannot be mentioned in a song, unless maybe there is some obscure copyright infringement involved.

I would be amazed if any songwriter has ever faced legal action purely as a result of mentioning a proprietary name in a song. Maybe if one were to slander the company, action might be taken, but Jez' song most definitely does not do that.

I would be interested to hear the opinions of the legal/copyright experts on the forum.

19 Sep 16 - 09:44 AM (#3810428)
Subject: RE: Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?

@murray this is an international forum. As Jez is resident in the UK I assume that you want responses explicitly about English or Scottish law.

19 Sep 16 - 11:59 AM (#3810441)
Subject: RE: Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?
From: Jack Campin

Possibly Facebook has trademarked the word "friend".

I'll get by with a little help from my lawyers...

19 Sep 16 - 01:01 PM (#3810453)
Subject: RE: Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?
From: Murray MacLeod

I don't think the country of residence is of any great relevance in copyright infringement (or perceived infringement) cases. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are resident in the UK but that didn't stop Randy California from pursuing a case against them for allegedly nicking one of the Spirit riffs for "Stairway to Heaven".

That said, maybe there is a difference in US law and British law and it would be interesting to know whether such applies in this particular case.

Jack's probably got it right ...

19 Sep 16 - 02:17 PM (#3810472)
Subject: RE: Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?
From: Joe Offer

Guest, this is an international forum. We have both Facebook and Jez Lowe fans in the United States, and might well like to hear the song here, too. Don't know that Facebook® could trademark "friend," but I'm sure that they have registered "Facebook friend." It would be good for us to have guidelines for use of trade names in songs.

19 Sep 16 - 02:38 PM (#3810481)
Subject: RE: Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?
From: Murray MacLeod

I'm fairly sure Jack was being ironic, Joe, as was I when I said he probably had gotten it right.

That said, I suppose it is indeed possible in this crazy world that the phrase "facebook friend " might be subject to copyright.

19 Sep 16 - 04:41 PM (#3810493)
Subject: RE: Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?
From: Vashta Nerada

Kate Miller-Heidke has had a song out there for a number of years that uses Facebook in the name and lyrics.

She's Australian.

19 Sep 16 - 06:17 PM (#3810496)
Subject: RE: Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?
From: Murray MacLeod

Great song ! I hadn't heard of her before, but she's really good.

Looks like Jez doesn't have anything to worry about.

19 Sep 16 - 07:42 PM (#3810505)
Subject: RE: Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?
From: GUEST,leeneia

When you register a trademark, you have to register the spelling, the font and (I believe) the color. For example, when Mattel registered Barbie, it was the word Barbie in a particular script, and in pink.
Otherwise, every female and poodle named Barbie would be in violation. And that doesn't make sense.

So I think it's safe to mention Facebook. Just don't use their registered trademark to make it seem that Facebook is involved in what you are doing.

19 Sep 16 - 08:06 PM (#3810509)
Subject: RE: Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?
From: Bee-dubya-ell

And don't name your website something like "Jezbook". Facebook has successfully sued at least two other sites (Teachbook and Placebook) for using "book" in their names.

19 Sep 16 - 09:25 PM (#3810516)
Subject: RE: Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?
From: GUEST,leeneia

I had a further thought about using brand names.

Remember years ago, when a murderer put cyanide in Tylenol? Remember the media coverage? How could the media warn people about the danger if they couldn't say "Tylenol"?

Of course it was okay to write about Tylenol. Just don't duplicate Tylenol's actual, exact trademark.

20 Sep 16 - 03:47 AM (#3810539)
Subject: RE: Song mentioning 'Facebook'.... Legal ?
From: Jack Campin

You can't sensibly take the position "if I follow the rules, do X and don't do Y, I'll be ok". Large corporations MAKE the rules. They will try to get away with whatever they can, and how far they succeed depends on how compliant the local legal system is, how corrupt the judges are and whether their opponents can afford to fight. I doubt whether they can restrict the suffix "-book" in most places given how extensive its previous history is, but there may well be jurisdictions where that will work for them.

The steel firm Krupps succeeded in stealing the "" domain from a man called Krupps who had registered it for himself before the Internet really mattered; German law let them get away with it. McDonalds tried to stop a McDonald in the Scottish Highlands from continuing to use his own name for his food business; they lost, after costing him a lot of money, but it wasn't for lack of trying.