Bloggers need legal protection too

Charles Smith has something to say that we all need to hear. We don’t own the copyright of blog comments, and it could bite us in the butt several ways. One, if someone asks that their comment be removed — regardless of how pertinent it is to the discussion — we have to remove it. Two, if we sell advertising, we could have to pay a share to commenters. Three, we might be vulnerable if we copy and do anything with the comments.

Smith is a lawyer and runs a blog called Reasonable Man — “Business and Legal Analysis of the RSS + Weblog Industry.” He recommends bloggers use Terms of Service and Privacy Policies to protect themselves from the types of things mentioned above and much more. He has both a Terms of Service and Privacy Policy on his Website and encourages fellow bloggers to “borrow” from the language in creating their own. Here’s what he told me in an email:

Feel free to use whatever you want from the TOS or privacy policy. Let me know if I can be of further assistance or if there are other blog law topics that you are interested in learning more about.
Smith is also President and COO of Pheedo, a company that “creates tools that enable individuals, organizations and corporations to promote, analyze, and optimize their weblogs and content feeds with simple, yet robust software and services.” Pheedo is a name we’ll be hearing a lot about down-the-road, for their ad solution software helps bloggers monetize their RSS feeds.

Thanks, Charles. I’ll be posting my own TOS and Privacy Policy right away. Good stuff.

Update: Charles adds in the comments: “Basic site agreements (Terms of Service and Privacy Policies) are ubiquitous on professional ‘websites’ — but are rare among blogs. This needs to change — especially for those who blog professionally or for a company. There are many complex issues to consider — and you should consult your legal counsel to address your specific needs.”

Comments

  1. Terry, thanks for the kind words. Basic site agreements (Terms of Service and Privacy Policies) are ubiquitous on professional ‘websites’ — but are rare among blogs. This needs to change – especially for those who blog professionally or for a company. There are many complex issues to consider – and you should consult your legal counsel to address your specific needs.

    And now a word from my lawyers:
    My blog posts, terms of service and/or privacy policy are not intended nor should they be used as a substitute for specific legal advice. Online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

  2. Great Stuff!

    I wish you had trackbacks though, makes letting you know I am watching easier. Should ask Charles about trackbacks also.

  3. I’m going to be launching a redesign and move to Moveable Type within the month. Then, I’ll do the trackback thing. Thanks.

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