Internet and Cyberlaw Issues Impacting Cultural Organizations

*Please note that I am not your attorney, I am not giving legal advice, and there is no attorney-client relationship.

This article seeks to raise awareness of some key internet and cyberlaw issues that impact cultural organizations, but is by no means a comprehensive guide.

Cultural organizations’ actions on the internet have legal implications that can be similar to those in the non-digital world, but have the potential to be more complicated with laws that are specific to internet use.

Some, but not all, issues to keep in mind include contracts, such as service agreements with social media sites; privacy laws; spamming laws; children’s protection laws; employment laws and intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark and right of publicity.

A privacy policy, terms and conditions for use of the organization’s website and a social media policy are also important to promulgate.

The following sources provide additional information on internet and cyberlaw issues impacting cultural organizations and were used in crafting this article:

  • Diana Skaar, Peter Samis and Robert Stein, Are We Living App-ly Ever After? Digital Museum Initiatives, Apps, Gaming, Social Media, and Cutting-Edge Legal Issuesin Legal Issues in Museum Administration, Smithsonian and ALI-CLE Conference Course Book (2012).
  • Eryn Starun, Social Media and Technology Updatein Legal Issues in Museum Administration, Smithsonian and ALI-CLE Conference Course Book (2013).
  • Eryn Starun, Negotiating the Non-Negotiable Legal Issues in Museum Administrationin Legal Issues in Museum Administration, Smithsonian and ALI-CLE Conference Course Book (2012).
  • Jeffrey P. Cunard, Developing and Distributing Museum Content: Navigating the Sea of New Apps, Platforms, and Hosting Optionsin Legal Issues in Museum Administration, Smithsonian and ALI-CLE Conference Course Book (2011).
  • Karen Frank, Lauryn H. Guttenplan, Nate A. Garhart and Walter G. Lehmann, Creating and Managing Brand and Content on the Web (Copyright, Trademark, and Privacy Issues)in Legal Issues in Museum Administration, Smithsonian and ALI-CLE Conference Course Book (2012).
  • Karmah Elmusa, When Art Goes Online, CA Lawyer (2013).
  • Lauryn Guttenplan and Hope O’Keeffe, eBooks and Digital Publicationsin Legal Issues in Museum Administration, Smithsonian and ALI-CLE Conference Course Book (2013).
  • Lauryn Guttenplan and Leslie Johnston, Big Brother, Big Data: How Museums are Collecting, Using and Storing Digital Data, inLegal Issues in Museum Administration, Smithsonian and ALI-CLE Conference Course Book (2014).
  • Multiple documents, Intellectual Property and the Arts.

Ms. Varner is an Attorney at Law, who has written multiple publications. She has lectured on issues impacting museums, cultural heritage, and arbitration. Ms. Varner is Executive Director of the National Art Museum of Sport. She also serves as Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

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