10 Ways to Keep Your Blog Out of Legal Trouble

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These 10 tips will help you protect not only your blog’s reputation, but also shield you from punitive action and legal disputes.

Don’t use images without permission. Always use your own photos, when possible, but if you need something copyright-free in a pinch there are services like Pexels and Pixabay.

Don’t re-publish content without permission. And that includes sharing large portions of someone else’s post or article. When in doubt, check with the author first, and always credit his/her site. Small quotes or excerpts are usually fine.

Don’t abuse your email list.  Unless you spelled out something different up front, people subscribe to receive your blog posts, that’s it.

DO post disclosures. FTC guidelines require that you be transparent about the clients you are working with. Make sure you are up to speed on the latest updates about what you need to disclose in sponsored posts, giveaways, testimonials and advertisements.

Do avoid defamation. Libel is a crime which bloggers have been prosecuted for, and its especially important to keep in mind if you are an “opinion” blogger or “review” blogger, because your bread and butter is talking about other people. So be factual and don’t pass along heresay or gossip, or use statements that you can’t back up. This also includes the comments you make on social media as well.

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DO post terms and conditions. Readers and potential clients should be made aware of how your blog operates when it comes to promos, giveaways, use of the site and commenting. I highly recommend turning on comment moderation because you don’t want to get in trouble for something that someone else posts on your site. In WP you can chose to automatically approve comments for trusted users, who have previously been approved, to save time.

DO post a privacy policy. Internet privacy is a huge concern, both for your readers and for your clients. Many of the companies I professionally partner with as a blogger require me to have a privacy policy clearly posted on my blog at all times.

DO give credit where it’s due. Whether you’re quoting from another blogger, sharing a social media post or publishing someone else’s recipe with your changes, always try to give credit to the source. This not only covers your back, but it’s just plain nice and will pay back in good dividends later.

DO take steps to protect your intellectual property. Watermark your images and put a copyright notice somewhere on your blog.

Don’t violate sweepstakes law. It’s very popular to run giveaways on your blog. There are different regulations, depending on whether you are in the US or Canada, and they vary from state to state or province to province. Adhere to the laws for your locale, and you should be fine. Generally speaking, bloggers are allowed to run a sweepstakes (winner chosen at random) or contest (winner chosen based on merit or attainment of a goal). An entry fee can be required for a contest in some states, but it cannot be a random draw. Otherwise, you’ve got an illegal lottery on your hands.

Can you think of any other ways that a blogger can get into trouble, and how to avoid that?

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One Response

  1. Nivedageorge September 1, 2016

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