Successful Meetings - March 2008 - (Page 24)

Meetings Law > By Stephanie Cason, Esq. The Law Online Virtual meetings are a popular and cost-effective way to conduct conferences around the world; however, before using this technology, be aware that virtual meetings have legal ramifications that cannot be ignored. contract will prevent organizers from facing costly legal battles over virtual conference content. SECURITY THREATS Another serious concern with virtual conferencing is the safety of the system and potential for security breaches. There are numerous web conferencing programs available. When you use these services you assume they are safe, but that isn’t always the case. Popular web conferencing software can be used by hackers to gain direct access to the desktop of any computer on a network without detection. Using these services can also make your system and your participants’ systems vulnerable to viruses. If security breaches occur, the virtual conference program vendor often provides no legal protection for a resulting loss. For example, one popular program states in its use agreement that it “does not ensure continuous, error-free, or virus-free operation of the Service,” and another states that it does “not guarantee the security or privacy” of your conference. These services, with their broad disclaimers, can leave conference organizers liable for damage resulting from viruses and hackers. Conference organizers should review their vendor contracts and make sure that the system they choose for virtual conferencing will protect them and their participants from security breaches. If the system is breached, the conference organizer could face a significant loss to its own system as well as to its participants’ computer systems, so a good indemnity clause must be included in the contract with the vendor to prevent liability. In addition, it would be prudent to add a disclaimer to the virtual conference website to put users on notice of the risks of participating in the virtual conference. OWNERSHIP ISSUES Virtual conferencing allows organizers to provide access to recorded conference materials over an extended period of time and often to a broader audience. Websites can allow conference materials to be posted indefinitely. With this increased access, conference organizers and presenters may face conflicts over who owns the material. It is illegal for anyone to violate the copyright ownership rights of another person. Consequently, it is important to know at all times who owns the copyright to written material, who has proper permission from the owner to use those copyrighted materials, and what restrictions are placed on that permission. As a general rule, the person who creates an original written work product has a copyright interest in that work at the moment of creation, and that copyright interest includes the exclusive right to reproduce or sell that work and to grant to others the right to use the work. The authors of a joint work are generally co-owners of the copyright to that work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary. With virtual conferences, ownership of material may be unclear. A presenter might submit an outline or record a speech which the conference organizers then include in a larger publication, adding to or changing the presenter’s material. Can the organizers reproduce this on their website? Can the presenter? The answers are often unclear, resulting in costly legal disputes. To avoid copyright disputes, conference organizers must have well-drafted contracts with the presenters. The general rules of copyright law can be modified by contract, and a clear ILLUSTRATION: NED SHAW Stephanie Cason, Esq. is an attorney with the law firm of Powers, Pyles, Sutter & Verville, P.C. in Washington DC. The firm has a meeting and convention law practice. She can be reached at (202) 466-6550 or at MARCH 2008 SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS 24

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - March 2008

Successful Meetings - March 2008
Editor's Note
On the Record
Planner's Spotlight
Management Matters
Mouth for Sale
Meetings Law
Tools of the Trade
On Site
Quick Tip
Critical Conditions
A Family Affair
Conference Centers We Love
CSM of the Year
Places & Spaces
Luxury Las Vegas
New York CIty
New Orleans
Oahu & Big Island
Florida Keys

Successful Meetings - March 2008