Legal Requirements Every Blogger must Know

Legal Requirements Every Blogger must Know

 

Whether you have a hobby blog or your blog is a money-making venture there are legal requirements that all bloggers must know and abide by or risk massive fines from the FCC.  I have put together a list of all of the legal requirements every blogger must know.  Although I am an attorney in the United States this post is not legal advice.  Rather, it is provided for informational purposes only. This post contains affiliate links that if you click on them and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Copyright and Trademark

Remember that all of your work is automatically copyrighted in the United States.  However, it is good practice to put the © symbol on your blog so that you are making it very clear that you are asserting copyright protection.  You can, within your blog, provide a license that your content can be used by others if you want to by simply placing a paragraph into your disclosures that your content can be shared and under what conditions.  This is true of the written portions and the images.

Keep in mind that if you share other people’s work you should make sure that you have permission either by checking their disclosures or contacting them directly.  But, if you are just referencing the work and providing a link there is no copyright violation.  It is tempting to use other bloggers’ images and text but you must be permitted by them to do so.

You can claim the trademark to your blog and course names by adding the TM symbol next to it is a way of putting others on notice that you are claiming the name. You can also register your name with the Trademark Office and if you do you can place the  ® symbol next to it showing that it is registered.

Disclosures 

As part of your blog there are disclosures that you must have and should have. You must have an affiliate disclosure page.  The law requires that you disclose that you have a financial relationship with a company that you are marketing as an affiliate link or that is sponsoring a post.  I have an affiliate disclosure page and always tell my readers that a post contains affiliate links that if they click and make a purchase I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to them.  The affiliate statement must occur “above the fold” In other words, it needs to be made at the top of your content and before any affiliate links.  It also must be obvious. The law requires these disclosures.  If you want an example you can read my affiliate disclosure page here.  You should link to it in your affiliate disclosure on your posts.   

Next, if you collect any personal information from readers in the form of an email list or even in Google Analytics you must have a privacy policy page.  The policy must contain information  about what you do with the information you receive.  To make it easy, there is a plugin that you can use to create your privacy and terms and conditions disclosures.  I use the Auto Terms of Service & Privacy Policy plugin for this.  It is free and will walk you through the process of creating a terms and conditions and privacy policy.  If you want to read my privacy policy you can read it here.  

You should have a Terms and Conditions page that sets out your copyright, limitation of liability, termination, and links to other websites policy.  I used the same plugin for my terms and conditions page that I used for my privacy policy.  Your terms and conditions page should contain information about your copyright, that you are not responsible for errors or omissions in your blog, what is contained in other blogs that you link to, are not responsible for comments that others make and that you can block people for failure to follow these policies.  It should also contain a statement of what governing law applies to disputes.  I live in California so my Terms and Conditions policy states that California law applies.  This is called your Limitation of Liability statement.  You can read mine here.

EMail

If you are using email as a way to contact your subscribers you must include a mailing address and you must provide a way to opt out of email.  If a person chooses to opt out of email you must respect that and remove them from your list.  Most email services whether they are free or paid will do this for you but it is still your responsibility to make sure that occurs.  

 

 

Images

Your images are already protected under your copyright.  However, if you use stock photos you must make sure that they are truly royalty free or that you have a license to use them.  Read the fine print when using stock photos that you are not violating policies attached to these images.  When you use a stock photo whether it is free or paid you are being given a license to use that image.  That license may be limited in some way.  If you want more information on using images in your blog posts read my post on the law that bloggers must know about photographs.  I use Dreamstime for my stock images so that I know that I can use them in the manner intended.   Dreamstime has both free and paid photos that you can be assured are being offered royalty free.

Conclusion

This is a short list of legal requirements that every blogger must know.  It is not intended as legal advice but just information.  If you have questions or concerns you should contact an attorney to help you.

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3 Comments

  1. Hello! I used the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Generator Plug in and filled out the form but now I can’t seem to figure out how to get it to show on my blog. Can you help? I am using wordpress.

    1. The plugin should create a short code. Create a page and add the short code to the text box and you should get the terms of service and privacy policy. I added mine to my about page. I also found a more updated plugin that you might try called Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Generator. I just switched to that when I realized the other one was out of date. Let me know if you need more help.

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