Today, there are millions of bloggers as the internet has become a place where people communicate and share copious amounts of information. However, there are some legal pitfalls that come with blogging and many bloggers have no clue as to how to deal with them.
Here we focus on some of the legal issues that bloggers may face. It is important to note that this article does not in any way offer legal counsel or advice but simply intends to explore some of the legal issues that bloggers face.
This is one of the most sensitive legal issues around blogging. Bloggers are not allowed to publish facts that are private about individuals on their blog pages. A private fact is a detail that highlights certain information about an individual and the individual has not made it public yet.
However, what constitutes private facts is a really gray area and it may be hard to tell what is private and what is not. For example, a person’s sexual affair or a person’s sexual orientation might be invasion of privacy and publishing it on your blog is an offense.
If a blogger wants to post personal details about someone, the safest way to go about it is to stick to re-publishing what is already known to avoid facing a law suit.
As a blogger, you need to ensure that the content you publish on your blog is not plagiarized. Plagiarism involves taking somebody else’s intellectual property and making it your own without their authorization.
What is generally allowed is re-publishing information on your blog for purpose of reporting, critic or even research with a link or attribution to the original source of the information. What is not allowed is copying and pasting large chunks of information on to your blog without quoting the source or getting prior permission to do so.
If you are found guilty of republishing other people’s work without their consent, you are likely to face a law suit for diminishing the value of their intellectual property in the market.
If you want people to be able to copy material from your blog and republish it, you can save your work under the Creative Commons License which allows people to re-publish some of your content and not all so long as they cite you as the original author.
Another legal issue around blogging is the infringement of copy right. Bloggers fear being sued for infringement of copy right which is actually a serious thing. A blogger may be asked to take down the content or to pay royalty fees.
Bloggers can obtain a copyright from the original content owners. For example of they want to publish content from a university, they must contact the university and obtain permission.
If someone attempts to infringe on your copyright, you can ask them politely to cease and desist, or file a law suit. In addition, if faced with a lawsuit for infringement, it is best to call your lawyer immediately.
On the other hand, if the content is published under the CC license, you can ask the blogger to attribute it to you or if it is you that is doing the infringing, you can attribute it to the original author so as to avoid a law suit.
Affiliate Links or Compensation
If you publish a blog with content that is paid for, sponsored or contains affiliate links, you are required by the FTC to provide a disclaimer about it otherwise you would be in legal violation of their disclosure terms.
It is usually sufficient to create a page with a disclaimer or to include a sentence with such a disclaimer in the footer of you blog where it is clearly visible to readers.