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January 17, 2014

Are You Making These Common Legal Mistakes on Your Blog?

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Aaron George, an entrepreneur focused on changing the legal industry. His startup called LawKick makes it easier than ever to find affordable, qualified legal help for free.

People blog for different reasons. Some just do it for fun. Some use it as a marketing tool for other products and services. Some do it full-time and make a living by serving up ad impressions. No matter what your reason is, it’s a good idea to be aware of the key legal considerations of operating a blog.

Depending on your blog strategy and your reason for blogging in the first place, there are different legal obligations you must meet.

Blogger typing on laptopPhoto credit: Anonymous Collective via Flickr

For the casual blogger just writing for the thrill of self-expression, you won’t have more than a few minor legal concerns to think about. But if blogging is your primary source of income, there are more serious legal issues that come into play, and you should definitely address them before it’s too late.

This post highlights three of the most common legal mistakes made by bloggers, along with some tips on what you can do to avoid them. read more

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September 23, 2013

How to Protect Your WordPress Content From Copyright Infringement

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copyright infringement

Copyright infringement is a serious problem for WordPress creatives. We’ll look at how users can make infringement more difficult and whether they should.

For those of us who make a living producing content for the web, copyright is often at the forefront of the issues that generate the most controversy. The freedom with which information can be propagated through the network is fundamental to the functioning of the online information economy, but no one likes to see the content that they’ve worked hard to create disproportionately benefiting free-riders. read more

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February 25, 2013

Kim Dotcom and Mega

Some of you in the crowd may remember the file-sharing site, Megaupload. They used to be the go-to option for cloud storage and easy access, yeah? As many of you know, that site hasn’t been around in ages, 1 year to be exact, but as the saying goes, ‘when one door closes, another one opens.’ From the ashes of  Megaupload’s destruction rises MEGA, founded by Kim Dotcom.

What is MEGA?

Mega stands for Mega-Encrypted-Global-Access, and it may or may not put you at ease considering where you stood this time last year when Megaupload bit the dust. The site is geared for brilliance no matter which way you look at it, though:

  • 3 low-cost plans, 1 free plan
  • Awesome traffic ranking thanks to some massive back-linking efforts
  • More files than you can shake a stick at, 50M and going strong
  • Privacy and Protection, as only 1 user has ever been fined for piracy

This certainly is not the Megaupload of yore, folks. They have a 10 Gigabit throughput and that delivers you some of the best speed from any file-sharing or cloud storage site. Ever.

read more

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October 28, 2011

5 Legal Nightmares to Scare you on Halloween

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Trick of TreatWith Halloween rapidly approaching, almost everyone is in the mood for a good ghost, zombie or vampire story. But while there’s always a good chill to be had from a scary tale or movie, some of the most frightening things aren’t works of fiction or stories at all, they’re simple facts.

Of those types of scary things, there is little more frightening than the law itself and how it can impact our daily lives.

As bloggers, we’re even more vulnerable than most when it comes to legal issues because, in addition to the usual spate of laws one has to follow day-to-day, we have the responsibilities of dealing with mass media law as well. Something, previously, few outside of the TV, radio, print and related industries had to deal with.

So, if you want some scary thoughts to give you something to ponder, here are five of the scariest legal realities and what they mean for you. read more

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October 21, 2011

20 Legal Facts Every Blogger Should Know

Courthouse ImageWhen it comes to legal issues, most bloggers are either unaware or misinformed about the laws that they operate under. Unless you studied to be a journalist, publisher or a lawyer, you most likely didn’t get an overview of mass media law. That’s unfortunate because now, with blogging and social media, everyone is a journalist and/or a publisher, at least from a legal perspective.

With that in mind, there is simply way too much to ever cover in one article. However, here is a brief overview of some of the facts that you need to know in order to stay safe online. Obviously, this won’t be in-depth and, if you want more information you should consult an attorney (or at least do further research).

But this should give you an idea of what you should be looking for and what questions you should be asking.

Also, it’s worth noting that these facts are based on U.S. law, if you are outside the country, obviously the situation is going to change.

On that note, here’s a look at 20 legal facts every blogger needs to know: read more

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October 14, 2011

6 Reasons to Register Your Site with the U.S. Copyright Office

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US Copyright Office LogoIf you’ve been reading my column here on the Blog Herald, then you already know that copyright is placed into a work the moment that it is created. This means that you don’t need to do anything at all in order to ensure that your work is protected and that others who misuse it are breaking the law.

But while that’s definitely true, it’s also not quite the full story. In the U.S., though copyright is granted in a work the moment its fixed into a tangible medium of expression, one does not have all of the tools needed to enforce that copyright until they take an additional step.

That additional step is timely registration with the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) and for many bloggers, both in the U.S. and abroad, it’s a both a good idea and an important step you can take to protect your work.

If you’re wondering why you should register, there are actually many but here are six of the big reasons to get you started (PDF). read more

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September 30, 2011

5 Legal Problems Raised By Mobile Blogging

Cell Phone in CrowdBlogging, as well as almost all media, is become much more mobile. Not only are people reading and consuming news on the go, but they are also recording, writing and photographing it as well.

This move stems directly from the rise in both smartphones, which often include high-definition video/still cameras, as well as other portable recording and Internet-connected devices. From Flip cameras to laptops, you can run an entire multimedia empire without ever sitting in an office.

However, all of this mobility comes with it a series of new legal questions and issues that desktop-only bloggers don’t have to face. When you’re recording audio and video on the street, you have some additional concerns to worry about.

Fortunately, they are legal questions that you can easily address and deal with, so long as you’re aware of them and take steps to avoid them before you step out the door. read more

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September 16, 2011

How Video is Changing Copyright for Bloggers

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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

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August 26, 2011

5 Responsibilities You Have as a Community Admin

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

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August 19, 2011

What To Do If You Get a Legal Threat Online

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

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