Responsible blogging is a serious matter with real legal ramifications. Although the history of blogging shows its roots began as sparse personal online journals called web-logs, today their forecasted growth rate means the world is looking at 273,840,000 blogs in 2015. (Not so personal anymore, instead incredibly public.) This publicity rises further due to blogs rank as the number one driving source of search results. Being in the public eye, means bloggers duty to content must be unwavering.
What goes hand-in-hand with this level of influence is knowledge surrounding the liability of blogging. Laws are in place that govern what bloggers can and cannot do. Not knowing them is an excuse that gets the lawbreakers nowhere fast. There are countless accounts and lengthy advice articles cluing bloggers in to the laws of blogging worth paying attention to. In case they were missed here is a short, high-level account.
Don’t Overstep these 4 Laws of Blogging:
- Plagiarism is a no no. Copyrights are real and the content owner’s right around them is a fact. Be aware of intellectual property. Use small chunks of copy to make a point then attribute away (link to them, refer to them). Remember that the latest Google update penalizes duplicate content as well. Be smart about this one, the power of the blogger many times evolves from their ability to research various high amounts of content and distill them into a valuable point of view.
Blogger Cost: prison time, financial repercussions, and reputation loss
- Defamation of character can’t be in a blogger’s character. Causing someone’s reputation harm with false accusations means the defamed can retaliate against the alleger. Communicate truthful information about others in a tasteful way. Referring to third party claims is dangerous. Rumors never do any party any good.
Blogger Cost: libel lawsuit and being SLAPPed
- Illegal content is not becoming. Adult material, obscene postings, breaking the law tales, images of drug use, and so forth can not appear in a public blog without consequences. Common sense comes in handy here. For example, don’t brag about stealing something or post images of using drugs.
Blogger Cost: subject to federal, state and local laws
- Image infringement is running rampant. An attribution or link back does not make using someone else’s photo in a blog okay. Know the difference between royalty-free, copyright-free and stock images. There are resources clearly indicating images that are safe to use, such as creative commons. If there is an image that a blogger is dying to use just ask the owner directly. Pictures may say 1000 words, but using the wrong one can cost you $1000s within the laws of blogging.
Blogger Cost: fined up to $150,000 per violation (Read this not so fun real life story), image removal, lawsuits, and even criminal charges
Bloggers should always take the safe road; meaning that if their actions in posts ever feel questionable, they should always speak with an attorney to make sure they are staying within the lines of the law. This article is based off of the resources linked within and does not make any legal claims to its contents nor does it constitute legal advice. Access to an exceptional legal guide to learn more is found here.
Pay attention to the fact that laws change. It is recommended that a blogger and any content creator periodically check-in to increase their understanding in their field for themselves and the companies or products they represent. This is a core aspect of the responsibility piece.
None of these laws of blogging should dissuade bloggers from their First Amendment rights. Freedom of speech must be exercised regularly just use caution. Knowledge is power, and sharing is empowerment.
“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”
― John Milton
Use blogger communities, such as @achiviblog, to share your stories for the benefit of your fellow bloggers. Awareness is the key to our success from both angles—that of the audience and the village of bloggers. This is where we meet and the magic happens in content marketing. Just beware of the blogging danger zones.
Thank you for sharing such invaluable information.
About a year ago I read a similar story about a blogger who used someone’s image within her blog. The owner of the image contacted the blogger and notified the blogger of his disapproval. The blogger quickly apologized, said she’d remove the image right away, and did. The owner of the image had no mercy, and sued. It was a very costly mistake.
After reading that story, I decided I’d take and use photos that I personally shot from my own Canon camera within my blogs. If I take them with my own camera, I own the shots, right?
As a children’s author, I still plan to be very careful when taking photos of children while at events.
Just be very careful.
Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.
Cherrye glad you found the article useful. I have also used photos of my own. Much easier with all the incredible apps out there today to even just do it with your phone.