Using Forums to Answer Legal Questions

With the current legal climate on the Web, running into a few questions about the law is almost inevitable. However, finding out where to take those questions or who to ask can be a very difficult matter.

One of the best places to get answers is actually a throwback to the pre-blogging Web, communities and forums.

Sites such as the Performancing Legal Issue Forum, where I answer questions regularly, can not only provide a great place to ask and receive answers to your questions, but also to offer your own opinion on those posted by others.

Though advice given on forums should never be taken as legal advice, no matter who is offering it, forums can be a valuable tool in when navigating the confusing world of legal law if used properly.
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Fighting Bloggers Take the Heat

In Do You Avoid a Fight by Chris Garrett here on the , he talks about bloggers picking fights or avoiding them, explaining how you can learn from those who disagree with you:

Those people, once calmed down, are extremely valuable to you. They are a chance to see another side, to improve what you do, to clarify your thinking. This is why you must always mean what you say and say what you mean.

If you really believe in what you write then you can welcome the chance of debating your point. That is not to say you should go looking for a fight, but if a fight finds you then you can be prepared for it.

I love criticism, when it is helpful. If you challenges me on an issue, I may not like what you have to say, but you have a point and you are welcome to it. I will listen, sifting it through my personal value sifter, and maybe you make sense. Maybe I can learn from the criticism. I’ll thank you one way or the other because I value my readers input that much.
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Give Back To Blog Experts

A blogger recently asked me about a blog post she’d written, a review on two competing online graphics programs. She wanted to know how she could rewrite the post to get rid of the brand keywords that did two things she found frustrating and a waste of her time:

  1. Attracted too many visitors to the post only to find that she didn’t add much helpful, nor does she write extensively about that topic. (They leave complaints.)
  2. Attracted too many comment spammers spamming the blog post through auto-spammers locked onto the brand name keywords.

While she originally wrote the post because she wanted the attention, she found no enthusiasm for the topic, so never wrote about it again. Instead of rejoicing in the traffic that post attracts, she has found herself feeling guilty about “leading them on” (her words) and not fulfilling their needs.
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Cease and Desist, Copyright and Fair Use

On Friday, an article appeared on Techdirt that struck fear into the hearts of many of us who follow copyright issues on the Web. According to a press release, a law firm had successfully established copyright in a cease and desist letter and could, in turn, use that to prevent others from republishing it.

The tactic of publishing cease and desist letters has a rich tradition on the Web. Sites that have found themselves bullied by larger companies have used the technique to turn the tide without going to court andChilling Effects was brought into existence solely for the purpose of publishing cease and desist letters as well as DMCA takedown notices. There has also been some questionable use of the technique as The Pirate Bay has published many cease and desist letters to ridicule those who have fought against them.

However, as the dust has settled and more details of the case have come to light, many of us have breathed a sigh of relief. As others have begun to more thoroughly read the full decision, it is clear that the courts ruling is far from a clean-cut or as life altering as previously thought.

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Black Hat Commenting

When I brought up the subject of whether or not journalists should be required to comment on their team bloggers’ posts, I had a problem writing about it and I’m so glad that readers helped me think this issue through. I agree with most of the commenters. Journalists should not be forced to comment when there is nothing to say, but they should also support their team bloggers when and where they can. Forcing comments is so ugly.

Still, this issue plagues my spirit. Trying to understand this issue more, I was delighted to find an interesting twist on the subject from Mihaela Lica of Pamil Visions’ eWritings in the article, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde:
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Being Safe When Allowing Guest Posts

For the busy blogger, accepting the occasional guest post can be a real win-win. They get a break from their normal writing routine and the guest blogger gets exposure to a new audience and some great promotion.

But while guest blogging can be mutually beneficial, it also comes with a new set of risks. Unlike comments, which are posted without any editorial control or initial oversight, bloggers who accept guest posts also accept both legal and professional risks.

So, before pushing a guest post live on your site, it is worthwhile to take a few moments to check and see if there are any potential problems with the work. After all, it only takes a few seconds to check a work for flaws but the headaches caused by unwittingly publishing something dubious can last the life of your site.

All one has to do is know what to look for.

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Skitch: Screenshots Made Easy


When it comes to blogging, there are very few tools I feel compelled to rave about or wonder how I got along without.

For example, I edit my sites with Mars Edit because it is easier and faster. However, I am just as comfortable with my browser and the vanilla WordPress editor as they get the job done just the same.

Skitch, however, is an exception to that rule and is both a tool that makes my life much more simple and a great service that I don’t know how I got along without.

For any blogger (on a Mac) that takes a modest amount of screen grabs or likes embedding images into his hosts, Sktich provides an easy and powerful service that combines capture, editing and hosting all within the same application. For me, it has sped up the process of taking screen captures and enabled me to include many more in my posts.

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Want. Want. Want. Blogging is About Giving.

I want. I want. I want. I hear this every day from other bloggers, especially new ones.

Guess what. Blogging isn’t about want. I know you want more traffic, more readers, more money, more attention, more links, and more wants.

Blogging isn’t about your wants. Blogging is about the gives.

Here’s how it works.

I give good content worthy of links, and others link back. I give links to information and resources, encouraging readers to leave my blog and go elsewhere, and they come back for more if the giving was good.

I give links. I give content. I give readers an opportunity to air their opinion and advice on what I give. I give other bloggers content worth linking to and referencing. I also give other bloggers challenges to improve their blog and blog content.

I may want, but without the giving, I won’t get.

Neither will you.
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How To Provide Attribution in the Blogging World

When the Richter Scales posted their “Here Comes Another Bubble” video, they didn’t expect the attention that they would get.

The video and song, a parody of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” lampooning the current wave of Web companies, almost instantly went viral, generating over 600,000 views on YouTube and becoming an instant Internet sensation.

However, the video also found itself at the center of a copyright controversy when photographer Lane Hartwell objected to the use of one of her photographs in the video montage.

Making sure that there was proper attribution, or acknowledgement of your sources, could have prevented a lot of controversy.

Here’s how you can do it right.

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