When we start blogging, we often ask questions such as, “As a blogger, what are my rights?’ “Can I published anything I want?” ” How can I safely blog anonymously?” and/or “With my freedom of speech, can I tell the world the truth about so-in-so?”
Although searches for these topics may lead us to other bloggers that give us a resounding “Yes” or “No’, their answers may not be correct.
If fact, if we listen to what some bloggers say, we could find ourselves faced with a defamation suit or even have our blog taken down.
So, what’s a blogger to do?
In my travels through blogosphere, I landed on “Electronic Frontier Foundation” (EFF). There in the pages of their site is a section named, Bloggers Rights with a link to another area titled: Bloggers Legal Guide
To repeat what this site is saying is important.
To be clear, this guide isn’t a substitute for, nor does it constitute, legal advice. Only an attorney who knows the details of your particular situation can provide the kind of advice you need if you’re being threatened with a lawsuit. The goal here is to give you a basic roadmap to the legal issues you may confront as a blogger, to let you know you have rights, and to encourage you to blog freely with the knowledge that your legitimate speech is protected.
Okay, now that we know this site is “not a substitute for, nor does it constitute legal advice”, let’s get down to what they do offer.
In one section, the EFF discusses, “What Legal Issues Can Arise From My Blog?”
To quote them,
Generally, you face the same liability issues as anyone making a publication available to the public, and receive the same freedom of speech and press protections. The main legal liability issues include:
* Intellectual Property (Copyright/Trademark)
* Trade Secret
* Right of Publicity
* Publication of Private Facts
* Intrusion into Seclusion
Other great questions and answers are discussed on this site, as well.
- What should I do if I get sued for what I blogged?
- What legal liability issues can arise from my blog?
- I found something interesting on someone else’s blog. May I quote it?
- I want to complain about a company. Can I use their name and logo?
- Do blogs have the same constitutional protections as mainstream media?
- Can my employer monitor my blog if I use work computers or the company network?
Below is an example of one of the questions including the answer.
Yes — but you may need to get consent from the people you interview. Many states require all parties to consent for recording audio. Some states also prohibit hidden cameras. See the RCFP’s Tape-Recording Laws at a Glance.
As a footnote: This site reports information for bloggers who live in the United States. For those of you who reside elsewhere, please check to see which rules apply to you.
Have you ever questioned whether what you’ve done on your blog or on a social networking site is legal?
Or does the legality of what you do online even enter your mind?
Raise you hand and share your thoughts.
P.S. The EFF site has a badge we can put on our blogs. I have added one to my sidebar to make it easier for all of you to find this site in the future.