Why every actor should register his name on Twitter. Like, now

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Why every actor should register his name on Twitter. Like, now

Thu Apr 30, 2009 @ 04:04PM PST
By Eriq Gardner

Twitter

We're still not sure why Twitter has become such a popular service for celebrities. But we have a message for public figures who haven't yet jumped on board the craze: go to the Twitter web site right this second and register your name.

Why might celebrities (or their representatives) wish to stamp their name on Twitter? If they don't, it's inevitable that some regular person will register it and pretend to be that celebrity.

Ask Christopher Walken, who last month fought successfully against his Twitter imposter.

Twitter does its best to accommodate those who complain about stolen identities, but the truth is it may not really have any legal imperative to do so. Lawyers have been complaining about Twitter's terms of service and cloudy dispute resolution process for months. One firm in Sidney, Australia has been warning clients they simply must register their identities on Twitter or risk losing it to a squatter. 

Everyone in entertainment and media should take this threat seriously. 

In the late 1990s, website domain squatting became a huge problem until the World Intellectual Property Organization created something called the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy to arbitrate disputes. But at the moment, no resolution forum exists to properly adjudicate Twitter tussles. Perhaps the best that any aggrieved individual or organization can do is try to make some sort of trademark infringement claim. We're unsure how effective such a lawsuit might be.

Plus, it'd be really damn expensive.

That was the big problem in the 90s when squatters like reporter Joshua Quittner registered the domain name McDonald's. In many of the cases, it simply became a lot cheaper to pay the squatters to go away rather than to take them to court. The same thing is happening right now. Two weeks ago, CNN had to pay an individual to recover the Twitter name, "CNNbrk."

How long until we start seeing more of these cases?

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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