Blogging is a hobby for a lot of people, but what most of them don’t know is that there are blogging rules and regulations. That’s why we’re here to offer some sort of a legal guide for bloggers.
Your blog could be one with a lot of traffic and one that is infrequently updated. By not knowing the laws and rule you’re not allowed to break you could end up being sued.
The rules we’ll mention might seem familiar to you, it’s just that you didn’t think they applied to blogs.
Keep them in the back of your head when managing your blog so you can continue blogging without any legal issues or disputes that will at least be a headache and a waste of your time.
Copyright laws are there to protect the original creators of content.
If you put a lot of effort into making a video or capturing a picture so you can post it on your blog to increase traffic you wouldn’t want people stealing your effort.
So it’s understandable that a person could feel like their effort and work have been violated if they find it on someone else’s site or blog.
According to blogging copyright guidelines, there are a few ways you can use someone else’s work without exposing yourself to potential legal trouble.
The first and easiest way to use someone else’s work on your blog is to simply ask them.
If you email the content creator and they tell you that it’s okay for you to use an image or any kind of work on their website then you’re free to use it.
Another option if you really like an image present on someone else’s blog is to add a link to that person’s blog underneath the image after adding it to your site.
This allows you to use that person’s work while giving them full credit for it. This isn’t foolproof though and some people could still end up suing you even if you give them credit.
The safest and most optimum way to add an image is to use or buy one that’s royalty free.
There are plenty of websites like Pixabay.com that allow you to download images with no copyright issues.
These rules can make blogging a lot harder especially when it comes to finding suitable pictures.
A blog with no images seems plain which makes adding any suitable picture you find online very tempting.
Just remember to hold on for a second and find out whether that image is protected by copyright or not and how you can use it safely if it is.
You might think these rules are annoying and get in your way, but they also work to protect your work and effort so people can’t steal work from your own blog too.
Comments and Reviews
The legality of comments and reviews posted on your blog from viewers can be a bit tricky.
Who do these comments and reviews belong to? Do they belong to the blog’s owner to do with them as he or she pleases or do they belong to the commenter or reviewer?
In order to avoid this whole conundrum and feeling uncomfortable dealing with hundreds of comments, you need to make a few things clear to all of your readers and viewers.
First of all you have to establish that any comments or reviews can be used by you as you wish.
This includes things like adding them in future posts or sharing them on social media to promote your blog or products for instance.
You also need to reassure viewers that their comments will not be manipulated or edited in any way.
Apart from this falling under the legalities of blogging, manipulating comments and reviews will result in you losing your credibility and possibly lots of fans and viewers.
In order for people to trust you they have to know that what they type on your blog won’t be altered by you in any way possible.
How would you feel if someone took your words and manipulated them to mean something different from what you actually meant?
It should also be established that whether or not a comment gets deleted by someone else’s wish will fall to your judgment.
If you feel like a person has the right to request a comment be deleted then go ahead and delete it.
At the same time don’t excessively delete comments.
You want your readers to know that you’re fair but firm and can tell the offensive comments that need deleting from the regular ones.
Take care to also point out that if you decide to delete your blog or stop using it that you’ll delete all comments.
Old comments on a blog that’s no longer active can be taken out of context.
Finally, it’s always better to avoid anonymous comments.
Try to get as much details about the commenter as possible.
Ask them to at least type in a nickname and provide an email (don’t make the email public) so you can get in touch with them in case you need to for any reason.
Protect People’s Information
We mentioned that it’s best to acquire some information from people before you let them post on your blog.
So how do you do this without people worrying about whether or not their info will be used for commercial purposes?
I’ve decided against commenting on certain websites because I feared they’d use my email to spam me.
There are plenty of other reasons you might want to collect user data besides comment and review posts.
If you’re selling products on your blog you’ll probably be accepting money via credit card and people will have every right to worry about the safety of their information.
For minor data such as asking people to provide their email before publishing their comment you can just add some sort of statement that you can guarantee that their info will never be shared with any other entity and will not be used for any purpose.
On the other hand if you’re asking for more serious information like credit card numbers you’ll need to be more firm and clearer.
A great solution is to add a page on your website explaining how any information provided on your blog is completely safe and will not be distributed in any way.
This will reassure viewers that their data is protected regardless of how important or risky it is.
Think of it this way, you wouldn’t go back to a website if you started receiving regular spam from it after providing your email so you can comment.
Getting paid to advertise for a company or a product through your blog is one of the best ways to increase your income especially if your blog receives a lot of traffic.
So where does that stand in the grand scheme of things?
Do you need to make it clear that someone is sponsoring you or you have an affiliation with another site?
The answer is yes despite the fact that probably no one has been sued over this before. You wouldn’t want to be the first though.
The Federal Trade Commission said back in 2006 that blogging alters the traditional ways of advertising.
This is because traditional advertising through radio, television, videos, or via ads on the internet is clear and straightforward.
You know that the company is trying to sell you its products.
When a blog gets paid to advertise an item for instance, the advertising could be done in a sneaky and unclear manner.
As a writer you could include a paragraph in one of your blogs praising a certain company or product.
People could assume that this is due to a sincere event and that you’re speaking from the heart which will increase their likelihood to buy from that company or use its services when in fact you’re just advertising.
In order to avoid any legal disputes you should clarify that certain information is advertising.
It’s also a good idea to add a page of affiliates on your site so people understand why you mention these companies frequently.
Also avoid acting like a neutral when you’re not because this is one of the things that can get you in most trouble.
Libel is a No
People love gossip and posting it on your blog is one of the easiest ways to increase traffic, but it’s also one of the easiest ways for you to get sued.
Libel is the act of publishing false information about a person or entity that can harm their reputation and how they’re viewed by the public.
People often think that this is harmless which is what makes it such an easy mistake to make.
Even if no one reads your blog besides your dozen friends or so, you’re still at risk for legal consequences.
It’s not about how many readers you have, it’s about posting false information.
It also doesn’t matter how long it has been since you posted that info, a person can always come back and sue you for what you wrote.
Deep linking is posting a link of a page from another website but not that website’s homepage. Sounds perfectly fine, right?
Yes there’s really no issue when it comes to deep linking. In fact you’re probably doing that website a favor by increasing its traffic and redirecting your readers to it.
We’re mentioning it because there was a dispute between two rival websites a few years ago which might lead people to think that deep linking is illegal and exposes bloggers to lawsuits.
Deep linking is perfectly fine and it doesn’t make sense to post a link to a website’s homepage when you’re trying to get your readers to read something specific on that website.
This might come as a surprise to a lot of people who didn’t know that blogging is considered a form of business.
If you live in the United States then blogging is more than just a hobby you do in your spare time.
The IRS will require you to pay taxes on any income you make through your blog. Also, if you own your own blog then they consider you a business owner.
For those of you who make less than 1,000$ per year through their blog, paying taxes can be avoided since you’re not making much money.
If you are in fact making money via your blog then you’ll need to pay taxes but there ways to decrease them legally.
Anything you use in order to blog can fall under business expenses.
You can add everything from your computer to your Internet service bills to business expenses in order to lower the taxes you owe. Just remember to keep the receipts of everything you buy or pay for.
For more information on making money and dealing with taxes you should consult an accountant.
We just thought we’d point this out since a lot of people aren’t aware of it.
Very few things are simple uninterrupted hobbies these days and sadly blogging isn’t one of them.
The Internet is a very complex place and strangers might decide to make money by suing you over a silly mistake that you did.
These rules might seem annoying and pointless but when you really think of it, they serve to protect you and your work as well.
Anyhow as you apply these rules for a week or two you’ll automatically get used to them and they won’t be such a pain for you later on.
It’s surprising that most people aren’t aware of these rules and laws but hopefully, this can serve as a legal guide for bloggers so they can stay out of legal trouble.