Google Buzz could cause legal problems in Hollywood

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Google Buzz could cause legal problems in Hollywood

Thu Feb 11, 2010 @ 09:22AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Buzz Google has been taking a lot of heat since Tuesday's launch of a new social-networking feature called Buzz that allows users to post status updates to contacts and make comments on other people's updates. Most controversially, Google Buzz allows people by default to see who their contacts e-mail and chat with most.

This could be a problem in Hollywood, especially among lawyers and agents.

There's already been discussion about the privacy implications of a system that may accidentally reveal journalist sources, cheating husbands and others — but how about the lawyers who have ethical requirements regarding confidentiality of clients?

Let's go further:
  • How will this impact client relationships? Let's say some B-list star discovers he or she isn't getting as much attention as a rival.
  • How will this impact client poaching? Let's say some agent discovers that Ari Emanuel or Richard Lovett has been e-mailing with his star client?
  • How could this impact the discovery process during litigation? Let's say a lawyer uncovers that a film executive had been communicating often with a writer whose script he claims to have never read.
Just a few things to contemplate. Obviously, other social media such as Twitter and Facebook have raised similar issues for a few years now. We're also interested in the ramifications of a hot social-networking platform called Foursquare that broadcasts a person's whereabouts to the world. These tools have become popular ways to keep people connected, but they may also have other unintended uses.

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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

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