How Video is Changing Copyright for Bloggers

Video Camera Image

Video Camera ImageWith more and more bloggers dipping their toes into creating video content for their sites, the climate they’re working in is changing when it comes to copyright.

Though copyright, by design, protects all forms of content equally, how it is enforced and who is doing the enforcing changes drastically with the medium. This means that bloggers who might take some of their habits, both good and bad, from text into video, might be in for a bit of culture shock.

So what are some of the copyright changes a blogger should expect when going from text to video? Here’s just a small sample of some of the ways the two media are very different from both a practical and a legal perspective. [Read more…]

Adult Content, Your Site and the Law

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Lipstick ImageMost blogs don’t have to worry about the legal issues that come with hosting adult content on their site. The content on blogs in most genres, though it can be coarse and vulgar at times, simply doesn’t rise (or sink) to a level where you need to worry about the legal issue along this front.

However, more and more bloggers are beginning to wade into this territory. These include sex blogs that openly discuss mature issues, photographers and artists whose work often pushes boundaries in this area and even, on some occasions, unrelated blogs that discuss tangential issues that require the hosting of adult content.

No matter which category you fall in or even if you don’t plan on ever hosting any adult material, it’s important to know where the rules like currently and what is expected of you as a publisher. However, it’s also very important to note that, even more so than with other discussions on law, this one is aimed at a U.S. audience and you will definitely want to check your local laws to make sure you comply with them.

So what are the rules with hosting adult content on your site? There simply too many to cover all of them in this article but here are some of the fundamentals you need to be aware of. [Read more…]

Is Your Site Being Blocked?

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Roadblock Image

Currently, there at least some 22 countries that block some websites, even more that block VOIP services. China alone represents a block that can restrict access to your site to over 1 billion people.

Though there are ways around most of these Internet blocks, few within the countries impacted have the means and ability to do so, making those blocks, for the most part, at least somewhat effective at limiting communication.

The sad truth is that, though some strides have been made in promoting freedom of access online, many countries are tightening their grip. Recent news from Iran indicates the country tightening its grip and increasing its filtering. Turkey has also seen a similar tightening of Internet restrictions.

But blocking goes well beyond countries. Though less nefarious in nature, many companies and households also use blocking technology to restrict who can access certain sites. Whether the goal is to increase employee productivity or prevent minors from access adult content, the results are often the same.

So is your site being blocked? Are people who might want to visit your site barred from accessing it and, if so, what can be done about it? Here’s a quick look at the current web filtering landscape and what it means for your site. [Read more…]

5 Responsibilities You Have as a Community Admin

Image of Community

Image of CommunityAs a blogger, you are more than just an author and content creator, you are also a community administrator, managing and encouraging interaction between your readers and visitors.

Though much of this community interaction you can’t control, namely all of the conversation that happens off your site (Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.), a lot of it does take place directly under your purview, including comments on your site, conversation on your Facebook page and so forth.

To be a successful blogger, you need a good community to survive and thrive. However, running a community also comes with a series of responsibilities, both ethical and legal, that you need to be aware of.

Simply put, being a community admin is far more than having a comment box open on your site and letting others post. There’s actually a great deal more to it, especially if you want to have a community that is both productive and on the right side of the law. [Read more…]

What To Do If You Get a Legal Threat Online

Threat Poster

Threat PosterThe Internet, for better or worse, is the largest meeting place to have ever existed in history. It’s a place where millions of people, from all backgrounds, can get together and exchange ideas, news, artwork and pictures of cats.

However, it’s inevitable that, with so many people in one “place” that there are going to be disagreements and some of them are going to get quite heated. Just as you don’t always get along with your “real world” neighbors you probably won’t get along with some of your virtual ones either and, also like physical world problems, virtual world ones also, at times, disintegrate into legal disputes.

So, if you blog long enough, especially if you routinely discuss or use work from other people on your site, there’s a chance that you’re going to be the subject of a legal threat.

For the unprepared, this can be one of the most terrifying experiences one can have online. Such threats often come with fears big legal bills, huge settlements and more. It’s pretty easy to paint a worst-case scenario that is either unrealistic or completely impossible.

Still, these are matters that should be taken seriously and knowing what to do is important. Though I’m not a lawyer and certainly can’t provide legal advice, there are steps that most attorneys advise you to take and I’ve outlined them below. [Read more…]

Is Creative Commons Right for Your Blog?

Creative Commons Work Logo

Creative Commons Work LogoIf you surf around the Internet long enough, you will no doubt notice many sites Creative Commons badges or other integrations of their licenses.

Several larger sites, including Flickr and WordPress.com have integrated Creative Commons support into their offerings and even Google has integrated Creative Commons into it search tools to make it easier to locate such works.

But with Creative Commons being so popular and on so many sites, many bloggers are wondering if a CC license is right for them and their site.

The answer, however, isn’t straightforward and it’s a decision every blogger needs to make for themselves. But, with a little bit of information, the choice should be an easy one to make, letting you get back to running other parts of your site. [Read more…]

5 Legal Guides Every Blogger Should Read

Image of Law Books

Image of Law BooksAs we’ve discussed previously on this site, being a blogger can be very risky legally. With a slew of potential legal issues including copyright, defamation, trademark, privacy and much more, there are many ways a well-meaning blogger can find themselves being sued.

To make matters worse, there’s a great deal of conflicting and confusing information on the Web and what good information there is, generally, is scattered across multiple pages and sites. This makes learning about the law difficult and means you can spend a great deal of time just trying to keep yourself out of court.

Fortunately, several bloggers and blogging-related organizations have worked hard to produce legal guides that give you a good breadth of information in a simple, single work that you can easily read or search through.

With that in mind, here are five of the best of those guides, what’s in them and how they can be useful in helping you protect yourself and your rights. [Read more…]

Why Where You Host Your Site Matters Legally

One of the beautiful things about building your own site is that you can choose where you want to host it and what you want the domain to be. On that front, the Web provides nearly limitless choices with hosts in nearly every corner of the earth and hundreds of domain extensions. The room for opportunity and creativity is incredible.

However, where you host and where what you choose for your domain has a large bearing on your site and there are many factors that you need to consider.

Many of the factors are actually technical. Your server’s proximity to your visitors affects its speed and not all countries are as well connected as you would like for hosting a site. For example, you wouldn’t want to host a site aimed at an Asian audience somewhere in rural South America.

But on top of the technical considerations are legal ones. Whenever you sign up for a hosting account in another country, you’re doing more than moving your site there, you are, in many regards, subjecting yourself to the laws of that nation.

That can have some dire consequences for your site if you aren’t careful and, in extreme cases, can even result in your arrest and possible extradition.

In short, thinking about these issues is an important consideration when choosing a host, but one that few actually weigh. [Read more…]

The Difference Between Law & Ethics in Blogging

Dogs on Leash Law

Dogs on Leash LawSocieties generally have two ways that they try to encourage “positive” or “good” behavior on its members, laws and ethics.

But while both are similar in that they are ways to punish or discourage unwanted behavior, they are radically different in both what they are and how they operate.

As a blogger, you find yourself operating in a variety of societies. This includes traditional ones such as your local community, your country and the world as a whole as well as digital ones such as the blogging community and the Internet community.

This has some fairly profound implications for the laws and ethics you have to wrangle with as you’re not only caught between the duality of the two elements themselves, but in the layers of often conflicting standards of all the societies you reach and are a part of.

To unravel this mess, we have to first take a look at the differences between law and ethics and understand how they each impact bloggers in slightly different, but very powerful, ways. [Read more…]

Your Email, Your Privacy and Your Blog

Image of Email Privacy

Image of Email PrivacyMost of us take email for granted. We just type in an address, pound out a message and hit send. We trust our email will get there in a prompt fashion and that, if needed, we’ll hear back from the recipient shortly.

The problem is that email doesn’t go directly from point A to point B. Your email, as with nearly all communication on the Internet, is first passed through a series of intermediaries that receive it and send it on its way again.

Since this happens within the blink of an eye it’s easy for us to miss it or not think about it. However, this system has drastic impacts for the relative privacy of email both in terms of how secure our information is and what others can do with it.

The truth is simple. Email, at least by itself, is not a private method of communication and should never be treated as such. Your email is not safe from snooping by the government, by your employers, by your ISP nor even disclosure by your recipient.

The impact this has on you depends on how you want to use email, but the basics of the situation are pretty much the same for everyone, never put anything in an email you don’t want disclosed publicly later. [Read more…]