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February 25, 2008

Don’t Sign Away Your Rights

Many bloggers dream about getting a recurring guest blogging position. Whether paid or unpaid, many bloggers toil in relative obscurity for years before being offered a chance to write for a large site.

However, the excitement of being offered a new writing position often causes bloggers, as well as other writers, to make serious mistakes. When they receive their first contract, they either do not read the document carefully or, in a desperate bid to please their new employers, sign the contract with little regard to the rights that they surrender.

However, when you sign your name to a contract, you are bound to it and signing a bad contract can have long-term consequences that can both limit the rights to your own work and the scope of your future projects.

No matter how good of a deal the contract seems to be, it is worth taking a moment to read through it and watch out for the rights that you may be giving away.

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February 18, 2008

The Limitations of Fair Use

When it comes to matters of copyright, many bloggers are simply asking for trouble and don’t realize that they are doing so.

They take images and put them in their entries without a thought to where they got them, they take articles, in whole or large part, without a thought to who wrote wrote it and tell themselves that their copying of the content is protected by fair use.

This type of behavior is not only very risky, but also shows a lack of understanding of what fair use is, how it works and what it was designed to protect. This causes many bloggers, especially new ones, to put themselves in risk that they never would have otherwise.

To make fair use work, it is important that we not only understand what it protects, but also what the limitations of it are and understand both the actions it doesn’t protect as well as the headaches it can’t prevent.

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February 11, 2008

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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February 8, 2008

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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February 4, 2008

Real estate blogger being sued for $25m for alleged libel

Filed as News with 33 comments

Seems you have to be very careful what you blog for. Even if your life isn’t in danger, your wallet could be.

Reports suggest that a Miami-based Real Estate developer is being sued for twenty-five million dollars over some negative comments he made on his personal blog.

According to “How to Split an Atom”:

In a posting, he spoke poorly of the Opera Tower, a condo owned by a developer, one Tibor Hollo.

Tibor believes that Lucas’ post constitutes Libel. Lucas stated that the development company responsible for the Opera went Bankrupt during the 1980s and that future buyers should be weary [sic] of dealing with them.

Tibor says the company never went Bankrupt… and says that Lucas’ post has been seriously detrimental to his business.

Of course, anyone could have written this, though I can’t help thinking that a traditional journalist would have simply had to print a retraction.

Perhaps it’s the nature of blogs, that they “hang around” online for much longer than a print newspaper does.

With ridiculous legal challenges like this springing up, it’s not surprising that many businesses are so nervous of blogging.

Downright irresponsible blogging, like any form of public writing, should be held accountable, but surely this case is beyond a joke?

(Via How to Split an Atom)

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The Dangers of Offloading Images

Previous on my site, I discussed the benefits of embedding images into your blog rather than hosting them yourself.

But while there are many reasons to embed your images, there are also reasons to think twice before doing so. Posting your images on a third party site, such as Flickr, PhotoBucket or Webshots provides you some protections, but also costs you some rights. By introducing a third party into the equation, you subject yourself to a whole new set of licensing terms, some of which may cost you dearly.

That’s why, before uploading your image or other media to your favorite hosting site, it is worthwhile to take a moment and understand what rights you are giving up and decide if it truly is worth it. read more

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January 28, 2008

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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January 21, 2008

Developing Your Content Theft Strategy

When it comes to content theft, there are three critical areas to work in: Prevention, detection and cessation.

All of the areas are crucial as a content theft strategy without some element of all three is doomed to failure. Without prevention, the problem becomes overwhelming. Without detection, there can be no cessation. Without cessation, there is no protection at all.

Webmasters who are interested in protecting their content need to pause and think about what they can do in all three of these areas. Not only can improving efforts in one area greatly impact the overall level of protection, but forging an interlocking plan of all three elements provides the best security and keeps the inconvenience to a minimum.

In short, your content is protected and you can get back to blogging.

So what should each area include? Let’s take a look at each pillar and analyze exactly what elements make up a solid content theft strategy.
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January 14, 2008

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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January 7, 2008

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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