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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.
Disclaimer: This article does not in any way offer legal counsel or advice but simply discusses legal considerations for bloggers and provides tips on protecting your content and creating your blog’s legal pages and disclaimers.
1. Respecting People’s Privacy
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 grey 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 an invasion of privacy and publishing it on your blog is an offence.
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.
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 a blogger, 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.
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 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 could face a lawsuit for diminishing the value of their intellectual property in the market.
Bloggers fear being sued for infringement of copyright which is actually a serious thing. A blogger 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 Content
If someone attempts to infringe on your copyright, 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 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 people to re-publish 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.
4. Disclosure Of 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 disclosure about it otherwise you would be in legal violation of their disclosure terms.
It is usually sufficient to create a page with a disclosure or to include a sentence with such a disclosure in the header of your blog or before the article. Affiliate disclosures must also be included in emails, eBooks or any other form of content where you use affiliate links.
Note for Amazon affiliates:
Some affiliate programs, such as the Amazon affiliate program, require that you have an 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.
5. Create Your Legal Pages
Bloggers are generally required to have 3 legal pages on their websites:
3. Terms and Conditions
Free legal policies online are deficient, not drafted by a real attorney and don’t offer you the complete legal protection and peace of mind you deserve.
Most of us know the legal pages are VERY important and required by law but find the “legal stuff” confusing, complicated or intimidating.
Since lawyers are expensive we end up wasting valuable time trying to write the legal pages ourselves but are not confident in our ability to write the legalese.
Now, I’m not a lawyer, so I’m going to recommend my friend, Amira’s Legal Bundle For Your Website. This Legal Bundle includes all you need to complete the legal pages on your website within minutes.
It comes with:
- Disclaimer Template For Your Website
- Terms and Conditions Template for Your Website
You’ll have the 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 do not provide the same comprehensive legal protections you need for your business.
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