Learn how to comply with blog laws and protect your blogging business with legal disclaimers and affiliate disclosures that offer legal protection for bloggers.
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.
These legal tips for bloggers will help you implement the website disclaimers and affiliate disclaimer statements you need to be compliant with, and understand the blogging rules and regulations and legal considerations for bloggers to avoid running afoul of the blog laws.
Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. This article does not, in any way, constitute legal counsel or advice, but simply discusses legal considerations for bloggers, and provides information on digital content laws for bloggers to protect their blog content, and resources to create their blog’s legal pages and disclaimers.
5 Blog Laws & Legal Considerations For Bloggers
In this article, we focus on some of the blog laws and legal issues that bloggers need to be mindful of, such as creating legal pages for your blog, including website legal disclaimers, and legal considerations for blog content.
1. Respecting people’s privacy
Revealing personal information about someone 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 grey area and it may be hard to tell what is private and what is not.
For example, a person’s romantic affair or sexual orientation might be an 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 lawsuit.
Bloggers should be aware of defamation laws and ensure they aren’t making any false statements about others that could lead to a lawsuit. If you’re an Indian blogger, the Supreme Court’s recent judgment upholding Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC as constitutionally valid will apply to you.
2. Avoiding plagiarism
As per digital content laws for bloggers, you need to ensure that the content you publish on your blog is not plagiarized or copied from someone else’s blog. Plagiarism involves taking somebody else’s intellectual property and making it your own without their authorization.
Bloggers should be aware that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) provides copyright owners with a set of remedies if they find their copyrighted material being infringed upon on the internet.
If you’re found guilty of republishing other people’s work without their consent, you could face a lawsuit for diminishing the value of their intellectual property in the market.
These remedies include sending a DMCA takedown notice to the infringing website, which will result in the removal of the infringing content. In addition, bloggers should be aware that they could be held liable for any copyright infringement that occurs on their websites.
This means that if someone posts copyrighted material on your blog without your permission, you could be sued by the copyright owner. To avoid this, make sure you have a policy in place for dealing with such infringements.
- What is generally allowed is re-publishing quotes on your blog for purpose of reporting, commentary, 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 onto your blog without quoting the source or getting prior permission to do so.
Never use copyrighted images without permission. Instead, you can use the free images provided by these royalty-free stock photo providers.
Being sued for infringement of copyright is a serious thing. If you want to use an image that is copyrighted, you need to get permission from the copyright holder before using it on your blog.
You may be asked to take down the content or to pay royalty fees. If you’re faced with a lawsuit for infringement, it is best to call your lawyer immediately.
Bloggers can obtain a copyright from the original content owners. For example, if they want to publish content from a university, they must contact the university and obtain permission.
3. Protecting your own content
If someone attempts to infringe on your copyright, as per blogs and copyright laws you can ask them politely to cease and desist or initiate a takedown of the content under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
To prevent your articles from being copied and pasted, you can use a WordPress plugin provided by services like Digiprove that provide online certification of intellectual property and digital content to prove your copyright ownership and other IP rights.
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 bloggers to republish some of your content, as long as they cite you as the original author.
If your content is published under the Creative Commons License, you can ask the blogger to attribute it to you. If it is you that is doing the infringing, you must attribute it to the original author to avoid a lawsuit.
If you publish a blog with content that is paid for, sponsored, or contains affiliate links, you’re required by the FTC to provide disclosure about it, by including a disclaimer for affiliate links, otherwise, you would be in legal violation of their disclosure terms.
Bloggers and social media influencers are legally required to disclose any financial relationships they have with the brands or products they write about with an FTC affiliate disclosure statement and place the affiliate link disclosure as close as possible to the triggering claim.
It is usually sufficient to create a disclaimer/disclosure page or include a sentence with such a disclosure in the header of your blog or before the article. Affiliate disclosure statements must also be included in emails, ebooks, or any other form of content where you use affiliate links.
You can even use funny affiliate disclosures if you don’t want to turn off your readers. Here are some important rules to keep in mind:
- Making false statements: Never make false statements about a product or service. If you do so, you could be sued for defamation by the company or individual who manufactures or provides that product or service.
- For Amazon affiliates: Some affiliate programs, such as the Amazon affiliate program, require that you have an Amazon affiliate disclosure above the fold, where it is clearly visible to readers. Amazon affiliates are not allowed to include their Amazon affiliate links in emails or eBooks.
As an affiliate best practice, avoid reviewing products or services that you have not personally tried or sampled. If you’re going to review a product or service, make sure you have actually tried it yourself. If you haven’t tried it or checked out the free trial (at the very least), don’t write about it.
5. Create your blog legal pages
Why are blog legal pages so important? If you don’t have your website legal pages for bloggers, you’re opening yourself and your blogging business up to legal action for any statements you make.
Bloggers are generally required to have three legal pages on their websites:
- Website Disclaimer Page
- Terms and Conditions Page
The European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new regulation designed to protect customer privacy.
Your updated GDPR blog privacy document must provide complete disclosure of personal details, as well as an explanation of what business plans are in place, if there’s a request for access, correction, or deletion from you partway through using this information gathered within its pages.
Law Depot’s library of templates for free legal documents, forms, and contracts allows you to choose the document you’d like to create from their templates sourced by attorneys and print or download your customized legal document in 5-10 minutes.
- Crafting your legal disclaimers
If you’re not a certified expert and don’t have professional credentials on the topics that you write about in your blog – especially if they pertain to YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics such as health, law, and finance that require professional expertise – the best practice would be to have an “informational purposes only disclaimer” somewhere on the page to reduce your liability.
For instance, if you’re writing an article that discusses legal considerations for bloggers, you may want to include a legal opinion disclaimer in the article, unless you ARE a legal expert and write an attorney blog.
If you use a no responsibility disclaimer template, it should be written by a legal expert, not free software that spits out a legal disclaimer for websites. Now, I’m not an attorney and don’t claim to understand disclaimer law.
However, I do know that free legal disclaimers and policies online are often deficient as they’re not drafted by a real attorney, and don’t offer complete legal protection for bloggers, or the peace of mind you deserve.
For example, that free medical disclaimer for website content could prove very expensive if you don’t have a proper website liability disclaimer and your blog content falls afoul of the laws of your country or state.
In addition, these free legal disclaimers may not include the Amazon disclosure and affiliate marketing disclaimer that you need to add to your disclaimer page if you promote affiliate products on your blog.
I’m not a lawyer, so I’m going to recommend Amira’s Legal Bundle For Your Website. These legal disclaimer templates include all you need to complete your blog legal pages and website disclaimers within minutes.
You’ll have complete satisfaction and peace of mind knowing that all these legal templates are actually drafted by an experienced attorney, instead of relying on free policies that don’t provide the same comprehensive legal protections you need for your blogging business.
To stay compliant with all the blog laws and avoid blogging legal issues, follow the blogging rules and regulations above, and always consult a legal professional when required, so you can protect your blogging business, and prosper as a blogger.
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