Write at your own peril? The activity seems harmless enough, but you could be making a big mistake if you simply begin blogging without taking care of some crucial legal considerations. In many ways, bloggers must think about protecting their posts similarly to how musicians must protect their recordings. Overall, though, bloggers have a wide variety of considerations to address in order to effectively and legally set up their blogs. We'll go over a few of those below.
Want Your Blog Name Protected?
To avoid someone using the goodwill of your blog's name, you should consider applying for trademark registration to protect it. That means coming up with a strong name (that's arbitrary and fanciful), performing a trademark search, and consulting with an attorney to see if it's worth applying for a trademark. Even if you don't end up registering your blog's name, you can make sure it doesn't infringe on existing trademarks.
Put Vendor Agreements in Writing
Any business owner needs strong contracts that detail each party's obligations whenever the business provides products, services, or money in exchange for either of those. You might write for other web pages or contract with other writers to provide your blog page with content. No matter which side of the business relationship you're on, be sure that your contract is in writing. Each contract should cover intellectual property ownership, refund policies, and steps needed to terminate the relationship.
Terms and conditions can let your visitors know how they are able to interact with the content on your page. For instance, you can let them know that they are not permitted to reproduce any excerpts from your blog without your express permission. In other words, you can lay out the lawful use of your blog and its contents in the terms and conditions.
Disclosures and disclaimers are closely related and, usually, required. A common disclosure bloggers use is one that lets visitors know that they received products for free or at a discount in exchange for reviewing it. Other times, companies may pay bloggers directly to review their products or services. At any rate, bloggers are required to disclose sponsorship, endorsements, and any relationships with affiliates.
Disclaimers are common for bloggers who write on subject matter that licensed professionals deal with. For instance, The Browne Firm has a disclaimer stating that any information on the website should not be “taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.” While blogs like these are intended to provide general information, only a personal consultation with us can determine the best course for your legal circumstances.
Your Blogs Posts are Copyrighted
Creating blogs, music, photographs, paintings, drawings, and other original artistic works in a tangible medium automatically gives you copyright protection. You get stronger protections if you register it with the U.S. Copyright Office, however.
As a blogger, copyright protections go both ways. Just as you have the right to prevent someone from using your blogs in a commercial setting, you need to be careful with any multimedia you use on your blogs. Make sure you don't need permission for the photos you use to accompany your blog posts; otherwise, you could receive a cease-and-desist letter and be forced to pay damages. To provide a layer of protection to your blog posts, add a copyright symbol somewhere on the web page with the appropriate year.
Call Us for Precise Legal Counsel
Though this blog covered much ground for bloggers and important legal considerations, we painted in fairly broad strokes. The only way to make sure that your particular blog is set up the right way is to speak with our legal team directly about your legal issues and goals. No matter how large your audience is or how much money you pull in from your blog, there are steps to take before sharing your talents with the world. Give us a call at 914-530-3070 to see how we can help.