Home > Keep It Legal > How Legal is Your Blog?

How Legal is Your Blog?

March 4, 2008

Before I started this blog I was concerned about the legal aspects of the written word. Unlike journalism where the reporters’ code is to cross check the fact against at least two sources, this relatively new medium has no checks and balances and only loosely restricted. 

Many years ago, my mom wrote what I consider the first “blog.”  She called it “The Dear Ellen Letters.”

My mother — a visionary in her own right — wrote letters to Ellen, a distant relative, and sent it not only to Ellen, but to all her nearest and dearest relatives and friends.  The letter was a potpourri of life’s events and some reflections..  The difference was that my mom’s Dear Ellen letters were sent to a contained target audience.  No one was g0ing to sue her if she misreported, misunderstood, or miss quoted.

Today’s blogs are ubiquitous.  They have morphed into webettes (my word for mini websites) that carry links, comments, and images.  For most, bloggers are clueless about their vulnerablity to the legal system.  Their liabilities include copyright infringement, obscenity and indecency both in language and images, and defamation. 

You probably know about the blog wars waged in cyberspace and the impact of internet bullying  (The suicide of a depressed Missouri teen last year caused by internet bullying generated cries for new legislation ).  These underscore the point about just how dangerous thoughtless and callous words can be.

To keep your blog within the legal limits, here’s a definition of infringement:

If you copy or publish written work without the consent of the author, this is copyright infringement.  Cutting and pasting text, an image, or a comment that seems like an everyday object is still considered infringement.  Remember cutting and pasting material from another’s website and putting it in yours is robbery.  It prevents the orignator from pulling his full share of the traffic to his site.  To avoid this, get written permission or an emailed permission (and print a hard copy) .

If anyone can share knowledge or ideas about the legal aspects of blogging, please feel free to contribute. 

Tomorrow I will share my thoughts about linking and allowing others to post on your blog.

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  1. March 7, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Nothing much to add here. But if anything on my site could be useful to your article series, please feel free to use it. My CC license is there to allow such use.

    Personally though, I think the line between site and Blog is far more blurred than even what you indicate. All blogs are currently sites but not all sites are blogs. That is just my terminology though, everyone has their own flavor.

    Thank you for posting this!

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