Legal Basics for Bloggers
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Legal Basics for Bloggers

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A basic primer in FTC blogger disclosure rules, Copyright and image sharing, Legally separating your blog from your personal self to protect your assets and how to avoid getting sued.

A basic primer in FTC blogger disclosure rules, Copyright and image sharing, Legally separating your blog from your personal self to protect your assets and how to avoid getting sued.

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Legal Basics for Bloggers Presentation Transcript

  • 1. LEGAL BASICS FOR BLOGGERS Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt The Ghatt Law Group LLC (www.ghattlawgroup.com) @Jenebaspeaks Jenebaspeaks.com jeneba@ghattlawgroup.com
  • 2. AGENDA 1. Federal Trade Commission disclosure rules 2. Copyright (sharing other people’s images and text or written works on your site) 3. Your Blog as a Separate Entity or Business 4. How to Avoid Getting Sued
  • 3. 1. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION In December 2009, the blogging community became irate when it learned the FTC had decided to impose some pretty strict disclosure rules on them, that were even stricter than disclosure rules that applied to mainstream magazines. The rules required blogs to disclose when they received any sort of compensation or product for a review.  The new standards adopted this year are even more specific but the two most important thing is : Disclose in ANY social media mentions. This applies to everything: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest.  You have to use the word “Ad:” or “Sponsored” or “Paid Review” Be up front in your disclosure.  Disclosing at the bottom of your post is no longer acceptable. You need to put it at the beginning of your post.  See the entire document Here: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2013/03/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf  (The old rules can be accessed HERE: http://ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005endorsementguidesfnnotice.pdf) The Blogging community is STILL upset because these nuanced and more granular rules do in fact impose a seemingly stricter standard on them than on TV advertisers for example.
  • 4. 2. COPYRIGHT  Images – Do not use any image that has a photographer or image sourcing credit under it (AP, Reuters, Getty, Splash, PacificCoast etc)  Images in Google Images are more likely than not copyrighted to someone. Avoid using those too. UNLESS:  You have a license to use the image  Obtained prior permission to use the image  Text – Do not cut and paste a substantial or entire article or post from another source without prior permission.
  • 5. ROYALTY FREE IMAGES  Fortunately, there are several sources where you can get some pretty nice royalty free image that you don’t even have to credit or source:  WikiMedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org  Creative Commons - http://search.creativecommons.org/  Flickr Creative Commons - http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/  Morgue File: http://morguefile.com Other places and multimedia sources can be found in this great post by Mashable: http://mashable.com/2009/08/04/free-blog- media/
  • 6. SYNDICATION EXCEPTION TO USING OTHERS’ MATERIALS OR POST  Syndication – Exception to using content without prior permission is syndication. Use a very small snippet or intro to the content then invite reader to “Read More” or “Continue Reading”.  It should never be more than a paragraph or a few lines.  Quote, Paraphrase or Summarize – It’s okay to do use information when part of your original story or take on it.
  • 7. 3. YOUR BLOG AS A BUSINESS  Why Create an Entity out of your business?  Protects your personal assets in case you publish something that gets you sued  Longevity- Helps your blog survive you  Gives you small business write offs and benefits  How?  Create an LLC  Pay annual to maintain  File a profit/loss statement with your annual personal taxes  Get Bloggers Insurance or a Homeowners’ Insurance Ride-On instead or in addition to this
  • 8. 4. HOW TO AVOID GETTING SUED 1. Tell the truth: Libel is a claim that a communicator has harmed someone’s reputation by publishing something false. So truth is the ultimate defense to a libel suit. A blog post that says horrible things about someone is not libelous if it is true. 2. Don’t repeat what the big named blogger wrote verbatim: Adjust language in a post to reflect a more sympathetic tone that reflects a neutral and less editorial tone. Don’t blog about matters you are not fully aware of. Avoid blogging about allegations. Stick to the facts. 3. Focus on the famous Politicians, celebrities, and other public figures must prove “actual malice” to win a libel suit. So if you stick to writing about famous people, the risk of legal liability decreases. 4. Act like the AARP era - Most of a blogger’s legal defenses were enacted with the Mainstream Media in mind. So emulate the “AARP” generation by Avoiding Anonymous Sources, Attributing Information,Retracting When Necessary, and Publishing Regularly.  (excerpted partially from http://medialawminnesota.com/2012/09/21/10- steps-bloggers-should-take-to-avoid-getting-sued
  • 9. HOW TO AVOID GETTING SUED CONTD 5. Don’t publish private information: Avoid publishing Social Security numbers or bank- account information, and tread carefully with racy pictures. 6. Moderate Comments -Some believe that bloggers can avoid legal liability by not moderating comments. I disagree. Moderate your comments and remove the dicey ones. 7. Consider adding your blog to your business or homeowners’ insurance policy 8 Follow disclaimer rules: Follow FTC and local state disclaimer rules and regulations 9. Don’t violate Copyright laws: Don’t use images you know are owned by others or you don’t have the license to use. Also, do not cut and paste another person’s article without prior permission. Instead Syndicate Content. 10. Respond to cease and desist or image removal requests promptly: If someone claims you’ve used their image without permission or raise a fuss over content, don’t fight. Remove the offending material promptly, apologize and hope it goes away. There is policy that protects bloggers too from frivolous lawsuits filed just to hush them up
  • 10. LEGAL BASICS FOR BLOGGERS Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt The Ghatt Law Group LLC (www.ghattlawgroup.com) @Jenebaspeaks Jenebaspeaks.com jeneba@ghattlawgroup.com http://About.Me/JJGhatt