E-Reputation Law - a case study on e-reputation

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E-Reputation Law

Does my e-communication comprise audio-visual elements?

In the YouTube era, audio-visual advertising online often is a core component of a company’s strategy for the building of its e-reputation.

Some companies have even used YouTube in an innovative manner, going beyond mere videos. When it works, it leaves a lasting impression. For instance, Tipp-Ex launched an advert on YouTube in 2010 that used the Tipp-Ex product to change the title of the video, allowing web users to change the ending of the video.

Several companies also record video footage to present their business or a topic or to answer questions raised by consumers. Some companies create animations to accompany oral explanations of an invention, of a new product or on how to solve a specific problem.

Audio advertising, on the other hand, is seen more seldom, for various reasons: web users do not like unsolicited noise on the web, and they generally prefer audio elements go hand in hand with visual elements.

Either way, the company will have to examine whether these videos are subject to the rules contained in the Belgian ‘Community’ decrees on audio-visual media services, namely the Décret sur les médias audiovisuels  [Note: Unofficial consolidated version up to 13 February 2012 by the CSA (available online, in French).] in the French-speaking Community (of the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel – CSA), the Decreet betreffende de radio omroep en de televisie  [Note: Unofficial consolidated version up to 13 June 2012 by the VRM (available online, in Dutch).] in the Dutch-speaking Community (of the Vlaamse Regulator voor de Media – VRM) and the Dekret über die audiovisuele Mediendienste und die Kinovorstellungen  [Note: Unofficial consolidated version by the Parliament of the German-speaking Community (available online, in German).] in the German-speaking Community (of the Medienrat).

On the French-speaking side, the Collège d’autorisation et de contrôle of the CSA published in March 2012 a Recommendation on the scope of the regulation of audio visual media services  [Note: Recommandation relative au périmètre de la régulation des services de médias audiovisuels (available online, in French).], which seems to suggest that putting a few videos online will not fall under the scope of the relevant Decree, unless there is a systematic structure for the organising of videos so as to make them into an audio-visual ‘programme’.

Therefore, if a company’s core business does not lie in providing audio-visual content and it wishes to put (a few) videos online, it is recommended that the company avoid making a ‘video’ category on its website or creating a ‘channel’ for its videos on YouTube. One question worth examining is whether a screencasting  [Note: Recordings (with a narrator) of what the author is doing on his or her computer, for instance a series of tutorials in video format showing how to implement certain image manipulation techniques in Adobe Photoshop.] or podcasting  [Note: A podcast is an audio or audio-visual show made available on the Internet and that the web user may download, either manually or by subscribing to the list of shows (an RSS feed).] company would fall under the scope of the Decrees, given the very nature of its activities. It would appear that the authorities have not yet had to examine this issue.

The application of the relevant Decrees entails a variety of obligations for companies, for instance the obligation to submit a yearly report, rules regarding content, specific ratings for the protection of minors and even an audiovisual production tax if the turnover exceeds specific thresholds.