5 False Legal Threats Bloggers Routinely Face

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Legally, blogging can be a very scary activity. Since few bloggers are acquainted with media law before setting up their first site, they are dealing with issues of trademark, copyright, libel, privacy, etc. when they have little understanding of the law itself.

This, often times, creates problems where a blogger oversteps a legal boundary and finds themselves either being sued or threatened with legal action. However, it also can create the reverse problem, one where the blogger is threatened with legal action when they haven’t done anything against the law.

To be clear, in the U.S., anyone can sue anyone for any reason at any time. If your sole purpose is to avoid a lawsuit, being within the law is, unfortunately, no protection. There’s always a chance you could have to spend the time and money to defend yourself in court.

However, if you have a more practical goal of not being hit with a lawsuit that has a chance of success, you still don’t want to give in needlessly to false legal threats. With that in mind, here are five of the more common false legal threats that bloggers face and why they carry no weight. [Read more…]

Blogging and the Law: A New Column at the Blog Herald

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Hello. My name is Jonathan Bailey. I’m the new guy here at the Blog Herald, once again, and I’m starting up a new column that will be running every Friday targeting the law and blogging. We’ll be tackling some of the major legal issues that bloggers face as they run their sites.

Many of you may already know me from the various sites I have either written for or currently write at. This includes a previous stint here at The Blog Herald, my ongoing Blogging Pitfalls column at BloggingPro, my hosting-related column at WhoIsHostingThis and, of course, my home site of Plagiarism Today, where I talk about copyright and plagiarism issues on the Web.

To be clear, I am not an attorney and nothing in any of my columns should be considered legal advice, but I have studied the law as it applies to mass media for over 12 years, come from a journalism background and have been studying copyright especially closely for over ten.

My goal with this column is to include a variety of pieces including general information pieces about how the law, in particular U.S. law, applies to blogging, legal news and rulings that might affect bloggers and also answer some of your questions as time permits.

With that in mind, here are just a few of the topic areas that this column will cover moving forward: [Read more…]

5 Smart Legal Steps for Your Blog

Rapidly the “Wild West” days of blogging are coming to an end legally. As blogging becomes more mainstream as a form of media, so does the legal issues that confronts it. No longer an outlier, blogs are actively competing with newspapers and even television in terms of journalism, audience and trendsetting.

But this has brought with it a slew of new legal headaches. Blogging has become the target for copyright holders, celebrities and even the FTC. There are very real and very serious legal risks associated with blogging and it is important to be aware of them.

So what are some steps you can take to avoid legal headaches with your blog? There are actually too many to list and much of it just comes down to operating in good faith. However, there are a handful of very simple things that you can do to improve your legal position and lessen the likelihood that you’ll be on the wrong end of a lawsuit and also strengthen your own rights.

Just some of the basics are below. [Read more…]

Sex Offenders To Be Banned from Twitter and Social Network Sites

Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of Illinois

Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of IllinoisPat Quin, Governour of the State of Illinois, has signed a bill in to law banning all registered sex offenders in the state of Illinois from using social networks. This becomes interesting when keeping in mind the broad spectrum covered by the definition of social networks: any site where someone has to sign up and can create a profile can be considered a social network.

“Social networking website” means an Internet website containing profile web pages of the members of the website that include the names or nicknames of such members, photographs placed on the profile web pages by such members, or any other personal or personally identifying information about such members and links to other profile web pages on social networking websites of friends or associates of such members that can be accessed by other members or visitors to the website. A social networking website provides members of or visitors to such website the ability to leave messages or comments on the profile web page that are visible to all or some visitors to the profile web page and may also include a form of electronic mail for members of the social networking website.

Maybe it would be easier to ban sex offenders from using the internet for a determined period. This period should be decided by a Judge and not by a politician.

Anonymous blogging UK police officer identity to be revealed after Court order

The identity of a blogging British police officer going by the pseudonym “Night Jack” has been discovered by The Times newspaper and is soon to be published, after attempts by his lawyers to get an injunction preventing the exposé failed.

In the High Court, Mr Justice Eady ruled that blogging was “essentially a public rather than a private activity” and as such it was in the public interest to reveal his identity.

Unlike The Daily Telegraph, whose revelations regarding MPs expenses were definitely in the public interest, all The Times is likely to achieve is the loss of an interesting and insightful blog. Well done. [Read more…]

Findlaw Opens Law Blog Network

As someone who writes a blog that deals with many legal issues, it is clear that the vast majority of law-oriented blogs, or blawgs, are targeted not at consumers, but attorneys and legal scholars.

However Findlaw, a legal information site and attorney directory that is targeted at consumers, has decided to change that by announcing the opening of its new blog index, which includes nine different blogs by its own editors and authors, all of which are targeted at consumers and not attorneys.

Though many of these blogs have been going on for some time on separate corners of the mammoth site, this is the first time that they have been brought together for one easy-to-navigate resource. [Read more…]

20 Law-Related Questions Every Blogger Should Know

Though journalism schools are often maligned in the blogging world as producing stale writing, they do teach many valuable lessons that are useful when running your own site.

One of those lessons is a primer in mass media law. By publishing works to the Web, one is essentially performing much of the same function as newspapers and television stations did exclusively just a few decades ago. However, the laws that govern such publications are not taught in most high schools nor most colleges.

So what should a blogger know about the law before they put up their first post? There are many things, certainly more than what can be covered in this post, but here are twenty questions every every blogger should be able to answer. [Read more…]