Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Blogger Laws

Recently I noticed that there is a huge lack of knowledge about legal rules of blogging. I myself am at fault for a lot of these without even noticing--something I remedied asap when I found out about the regulations.

I started to be aware of these things by reading Belle Brita. She mentioned that you can't use follow links in one of her blog posts because it is against Google policy. I was like, what is a follow link?

This prompted heavy researching into internet laws. And what I found and learned was both eye opening and also annoying.

First off, I live in the United States, and I use Blogger (the Google service) to run my site. If you do not live in the USA, and you don't use blogger, some of these may not apply. Each "website service" like Squarespace, Blogger or WordPress has their own set of rules--on top of any laws your country or state has!

Now, I'm sure everyone knows that you can't steal someone's unique photos or words. I mean, even I know that I can't just Google something and copy and paste it on my own site. But beyond this universal copyright law (that a lot of people break anyway...) there are a bunch of other rules that are binding for blogs.

Specific Blogger rules: (policy can be seen here)
  • Adult content must be clearly marked as such, and adult content can not be illegal in nature (think underage) and also can not be used to make any kind of money.
  • All blogs with any sort of adult content (even if it is just one post) requires the entire blog to be behind a 18-or-over warning page. 
  • It is against blogger policy to make a blog pretending to be another person. (satire is allowed)
  • Did you know that blogger does not allow anyone to post a comment on another person's blog or site with the sole purpose of the comment being to promote your own site? This is part of their spam policy. 
  • You cannot use follow links for paid ads. 
USA rules: (via the FTC)
  • Your blog must have a disclosure. (if you are selling something, receiving something for free, talking about a must have a disclosure) 
  • If someone guest posts on your blog, you must have written permission from them stating that you can put their words and pictures on your site. If not, it is a copyright violation. Also, if a guest post uses a picture he/she does not own, you could be held liable!  (this is why I don't do guest posts)
  • There are SO MANY laws about giveaways and sweepstakes and lotteries. This is why I no longer do giveaways. I'll let you research this on your own.
  • If you have a mailing list, it is required by law to have a unsubscribe link in each e-mail.
  • I don't quite understand fair use, so I only use my own pictures!
  • You do have the right (by law) to blog anonymously. However, this does not protect you from being subpoenaed.
  • You have a right to delete comments on your own blog. This does not violate anyone elses first amendment rights.
  • It's good to know about the Section 230 ruling. 
  • If someone comments on your blog: you need to have a comment policy that states creative commons under your comments. If not that person owns their words--making screen-shooting and re-posting their comment on your blog (I've seen people do this and "respond" to comments) potentially illegal!
  • There are different rules for posting e-mails and personal letters from companies, individuals and corporations on your blog. I don't know the rules, so I would shy away from this. In my state is is illegal to film someone or tape them without their consent--but some states are different. Know what you are doing!
Anyway, there are probably a ton more rules, but this is as far as I've researched these past few weeks. If you know of any other links or laws please comment down below. I really want to learn and be informed.


Rachel G said...

It's so true that there's a lot of casual law-breaking involved in blogging, especially as far as making money/side incomes off of blogging and as regarding giveaways, too. I most often take the easy route out and just stick to my own words and my own pictures. But there are some really good blog posts out there clearly explaining the laws involved in giveaways, so they're not too scary once you understand what you need to do.

Brita Long said...

Thanks for the shoutout! I know a lot of the rules and laws from my job, but there's also still so much for me to learn. Like it sounds like I need to update my comment policy.

Cody Doll said...

The laws are that bad once you look into them. I don't do giveaways mostly cause the rules are weird and it's to much stress to run one.