CapCut poses potential legal issues for brands

Am I the only one who still doesn’t really understand the ins and outs of CapCut even though it comes up on TikTok all the time? Essentially CapCut is a template that promotes many trends, specifically trending meme templates, from the boat sailing one to Pedro Pascal munching a sandwich. 

It’s easier than ever to add celebrity clips to videos. Editing templates from TikTok’s sister app CapCut have enabled the creation of over 1 million videos featuring Pascal alone, per video-creation counts shared on the CapCut app.

While joining a meme is a popular growth tactic among brands looking to get attention on TikTok, the strategy has its limits. Legal experts told Insider brand accounts should think twice before adding a famous actor’s likeness to a video without their explicit permission.
The risks for brands utilising these templates are real, legal experts said. Celebrities have gone after brands for using their identities on social media in the past. Kim Kardashian was awarded $2.7 million in a 2019 lawsuit that centred around an Instagram post from the fashion brand Missguided, for example.

“To the extent a brand uses a celebrity’s likeness as part of its promotional efforts on TikTok or similar platforms without the celebrity’s consent, the brand would face potential exposure under both federal and state law,” Robert Jacobs, a partner at the law firm Manatt who leads its entertainment litigation practice, told Insider.

That exposure includes violating rules around false endorsements and right of publicity laws, which are tricky to navigate as they differ by state and country.

Using celebrity memes in videos isn’t the only hazard for brands looking to join TikTok trends. Companies have also recently come under fire for adding popular songs to videos without paying for commercial use. For brand managers trying to grow their accounts on TikTok, striking the right balance of participating in user-generated trends without drawing the ire of content rights’ holders can be tricky.

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