Blogging legally is a must if you want to have a smooth blogging career by avoiding any blog legal issues.
When I started blogging, there was little to no care about blogging laws.
This is because not many laws had been formulated and not many people had exploited creating blogs to make an income.
Currently, there are several blogging laws every blogger should know about to avoid trouble.
Many bloggers have faced fines and their blogs taken down due to flaunting the blogging laws.
Knowing and adhering to the blogging laws may not be fun but is necessary.
In this article, you’ll learn the blogging laws, how to easily comply, and avoid legal trouble.
I have also researched different cases where online business have been sued and fined heavy fined as examples to show you how things can get messy when blogging laws are ignored.
Please keep in mind that this blog post should not be taken as legal advice but rather as legal information. For more detailed info please contact your lawyer.
Blogs are always collecting user information. This happens when:
- Using an email list
- Selling products and services
- Using data collection web services such as Google Analytics
- Monetizing your blog with digital ad revenue companies
The page should also inform the users what type of information you gather from them.
You can also outline the rights the users have and how they can control and access what they share.
Instead, numerous laws have been created in different regions to protect user information.
These laws include:
i) The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The General Data Protection Regulation caters to the European Union.
It is a data protection law that regulates the collection, use, and processing of user information within the EU.
The privacy and security law took effect in May 2018.
The obligations that this law imposes apply to companies all over the world.
You’ll need to comply as long as you target or collect information regarding users in the European Union.
Failure to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) attracts harsh fines and penalties.
ii) The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
The CCPA law applies to bloggers and businesses that operate in California and collect personal information from California residents.
The users have the right under the law to know what personal information is being collected about them.
They also can request this information be deleted.
The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)
The PIPEDA is a privacy law that applies to private organizations that operate in Canada.
All the private sector organizations that engage in commercial activity and collect, use and share personal information must comply.
The law provides that before you collect, disclose and use any information, you require to get consent from the individual.
The users who give the information also have a right under this law to challenge the accuracy of the information collected.
If you’re in Canada, this law will affect how you collect information from your blog.
ii) Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
COPPA is a law that affects websites or online services that seek an audience that is under the age of 13.
The law also applies to blogs and websites that intentionally collect information from kids under 13.
iii) The Privacy Act 1988
This law applies to government agencies and private sector organizations in Australia that handle personal information.
The Privacy Act 1988 sets out the principles that organizations must follow when collecting, using, and disclosing personal information.
It also gives individuals the right to request access to their personal information and to have it corrected if it is inaccurate.
It can be overwhelming to know and understand every law.
To better understand the specific privacy laws that affect your blog, Terms Feed has listed all the laws by country.
You need to comply with the laws that revolve around collecting and handling user information.
Many bloggers and companies in the world are sued for not having and complying with Privacy laws.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been on the frontline to issue lawsuits against companies that violate consumer privacy laws.
Two major companies have been sued and have had to pay millions for violations. These include Meta (formerly Facebook) and Google.
The case was filed after Facebook was accused of continuing to track users even after logging out from the platform.
Google also agreed to pay a $391.5 million privacy settlement for their location tracking practices.
The settlement by Google is a historic one as it’s the largest consumer privacy settlement led by an attorney general.
With this, you’ll avoid legal problems and protect yourself from potential lawsuits related to the handling of personal information.
- Engage the services of a legal professional
- Write one yourself
The template has been created from extensive research and covers aspects that touch on all types of online businesses.
You only need to get it and customize it to your blogging business when creating legal pages for your blog.
2) Copyright Law
Copyright law is a property Federal law that is given to creators to control, exploit and protect their original works.
Everyone can be a copyright owner; you just need to create original work and fix it.
There are different types of original work. They include:
- Computer programs
- Sound recordings
To receive copyright for work, a creator only needs to create original work in a fixed tangible medium of expression.
You don’t need to register with the Copyright office, it is not mandatory.
When you create, the work is copyrighted.
As much as copyright law protects creative works, there are elements that copyright does not protect.
- Methods of operation
- Short phrases
- Some tables, graphs, and charts
Registration is necessary to enforce copyright infringement lawsuits and claim damages against people who violate your rights through litigation.
Registration also provides a licensing marketplace where people can find information on copyright ownership.
To register, you’ll need to fill out a registration form, pay a fee and send copies of your work to the copyright office.
Creators obtain a bundle of rights under copyright. These are:
- Right to reproduce protected works
- Right to make derivative works
- Right to distribute copies of a work
- Right to perform and display work publicly
- for sound recordings, the right to perform the work by digital audio transmission
The Copyright Symbol
This is a symbol that informs others that a given work is protected by copyright.
A copyright symbol is used in a copyright notice.
A copyright notice includes the symbol, the copyright owner’s name, a statement of rights, and the year of publication.
It is not required to provide a copyright notice or symbol.
Providing one is good practice to give information. It also encourages those who want to use your works to seek permission to avoid lawsuits.
An example of a copyright notice for this blog is ©COPYRIGHT BLOGGINGFORLIFE - 2024.
For a majority of blogs, this can be found in the footer.
Exemptions to Copyright
There are some exceptions to copyright you should know about.
The major one that affects blogging is fair use.
Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the owners.
It seeks to promote freedom of expression while balancing the interests of copyright holders.
A section of the works from the copyright owner can be used for teaching, criticism, news reporting, and research.
When creating content for your blog, avoid using copyright-protected material without getting the required permission.
If you need to use any copyrighted material, credit the owner and adhere to the doctrine of fair use.
Failure to comply with copyright law may get you sued.
Every year, many individuals and organizations face legal consequences of copyright infringement.
The most recent copyright cases are detailed here.
Another issue regarding copyright you should look out for is other people copying your content.
This has happened to me severally.
You may not have much legal redress if your copyright is not registered.
The first step to handle content stealing is to issue a cease-and-desist letter.
If this doesn’t work, there are several actions to employ to stop the infringement.
Read this article on what to do when someone steals your blog content.
3) Terms and Conditions
Terms and conditions are rules for your website.
They indicate what you allow and don’t allow regarding the blog.
This section of the blog is important as it legally protects you and the content you share.
Ideally, the terms and conditions should indicate:
- What is considered lawful when using your blog
- Any exchange and refund policies for your products and services
- How to communicate, manage and resolve legal disputes
- The blog’s intellectual property rights.
When you have solid terms and conditions, you can resolve any legal matters regarding your blog quickly.
This saves you the time and costs of engaging legal professionals to solve disputes.
If you’re not certain how to create a thorough Terms and Conditions page, get this Legal Bundle that has all you need.
You’ll get an easy-to-use template that you can customize for your blog.
Disclaimers are warnings that you give to users of your blog to protect yourself from lawsuits.
You eliminate legal liability from the information you share.
They also protect you from the information you share from third parties such as affiliates and collaborations.
Disclaimers should be clearly shown to communicate to readers that the information you share is not factual but based on your opinion or experience.
Disclaimers are common with blogs that directly affect the quality of life of people such as health, fitness, and finance.
The disclaimers warn readers not to substitute the information shared with advice from professionals such as doctors and financial experts.
Disclaimers may not fully protect you from lawsuits. However, they offer great defense from claims and lawsuits.
Check out this Disclaimer template with all the necessary components for your blog.
5) Disclosures for Affiliate Links and Paid Sponsorships
As a blogger, you may work with companies that offer endorsements, sponsorships, and affiliate relationships.
You are required to disclose any of these relationships to your readers so that they can make informed decisions.
Disclosures seek to avoid misleading advertising.
They not only apply to monetary compensation but also any incentives you receive to give information to your readers.
This can be a free product or service.
By being open about your relationships, you enhance the efforts of the FTC to champion consumers' rights by promoting honesty and transparency.
A disclosure should be:
- Conspicuous to the readers
- Simple, clear, and understandable
- Not hidden in images, graphics, or text.
For affiliates, the disclosures are required to be close to the affiliate links.
Failure to disclose any incentive may attract a fine from the FTC. You can also get sued for unethical business practices.
To avoid any lawsuits or fines, use this disclaimer template that includes all types of disclaimers for your blog.
6) Self-Employment Taxes/ Blogging Income Tax law
For many people, blogging is a business that acts as a source of income.
As a business, you are required to pay taxes to your governing country.
Tax laws vary depending on the country you live and operate.
In the United States, there are regulations by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding self-employment taxes.
Just like any business, you’re entitled to make deductions related to the expenses you incur from managing your blog.
You should identify with the tax laws that apply to the area you live and the region your blog operates.
This is important, especially when handling the sale of goods and services.
In my country, for example, we’re required to pay income tax and digital tax when operating an online business.
Being aware and complying with tax obligations will eliminate fines and penalties down the road.
Engage professionals in your country and equip yourself with the knowledge that will help you remain compliant.
7) Defamation Lawsuit
A defamation lawsuit is where you get sued for publishing false information regarding an individual or company.
There are two main types of defamation; slander and libel. Slander is in oral form while libel is written.
You need to ensure that the information you share is as accurate as possible.
Avoid sharing false statements that may damage the credibility and integrity of people.
Many blogs and publications have found themselves being sued for something they published.
A good example is the case of Johnny Depp vs News Group Newspapers.
The claim was by Johnny Depp against Sun newspaper for characterizing him as a wife beater.
Although the libel claim did not succeed, Johnny Depp was able to prove the necessary elements.
It cost both parties time and resources to facilitate the legal proceedings.
The case might also drag on as Johnny Depp is reported to have appealed the findings.
Blogging is a great way to share information, build a business and create a sustainable income.
When creating a blog, it is important to be aware of the laws that govern and affect blogging.
This way, you can employ measures to comply and avoid legal trouble and ensure you are blogging legally.
By following the different blogging laws, you not only protect yourself but also your readers and business associates.
Ensure that you have the necessary documentation on your blog that covers all these laws.
Use this comprehensive legal bundle that covers blogging laws and eliminates the headache of creating from scratch.