For those who run blogs, there are at least six laws that you will need to know in order to be compliant with the law. Violating any one of these laws may bring in the FTC and getting a cease and desist letter which could devastate your blogging efforts.
The good news is that the laws are straightforward and easy to comply with once they are known to you. Here are six important laws that bloggers need to be fully aware.
Disclosing Paid Endorsements
The FTC requires that you label paid endorsements or advertisers on your site so that visitors can tell the difference. Otherwise, it opens the door for dishonest business practices which you want to avoid if at all possible. Be sure that you label all information clearly so that it cannot be reasonably misinterpreted, open up about any affiliate relationships you have with other companies, and not to claim an objective status when providing opinions or information about a company that you work with or benefit from.
Deep Linking is Legal
Deep linking is where you place a link inside a blog post so that readers can find out more information. For example, if you are talking about a particular legal action, linking to a page that contains examples of such actions is considered deep linking if it is accessed through the text of the post. While there have been court cases about the use of deep linking, it is legal for you to do.
Images are Protected Property
Images can be protected just like any intellectual property on the web. So, you cannot just pull an image from any site without permission and use it on your blog. In order to legally use an image, you must do at least one of the following;
- Purchase Royalty-Free Images
- Obtain Creative Common Images
- Ask for Owner’s Permission
Protecting Private Information
There is a natural hesitancy of people to share any personal information on the web, including their email address for fear of getting spam. As a blog owner, if you are collecting email addresses to use for your newsletter, you should have a short policy on your site that tells just how the information you collect will be used. A statement that the email address will not be shared, rented, or sold to another party provides a little peace of mind to those whom you are asking to hand over.
Ownership of User Developed Content
The comments, reviews, and copy that is posted on your message board is the property of the person who wrote it, not you. So, you will need to have clear terms spelled out as to how you will deal with all postings on your blog. This means that you can remove them at any time, no anonymous posting, and they can be removed by the request of the owner. However, you should not try to edit or manipulate them as that violates the spirit of the law.
When Someone Steals Your Content
When you see your work on another site without your permission, you can send them a cease and desist by informing them about copyright infringement. A copyright symbol on your work generally discourages this from happening. Taking legal action can be problematic as it is costly, but if you feel it is worth the effort then do so.