It doesn’t matter if you are new to blogging or been doing it for a while, you’ve got to be careful about what you publish. Every day more stories come up about bloggers getting in trouble for what they post.
Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don’t want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that’s under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.
A lot of the laws that may protect traditional journalists may not protect you (the blogger) simply because the courts haven’t yet decided how a given law pertains to bloggers.
EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has created a guide, compiling a number of FAQs premeditated to give you a better understanding of your rights and if necessary, defend your freedom.
The EFF wants you to understand this:
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.
Legal Guide for Bloggers only applies to residents of the U.S.
Here are some of the categories reviewed by way of FAQs:
Blogger Legal Liability Issues
The Overview of Legal Liability Issues FAQ briefly addresses some common legal issues that affect you as a publisher, especially situations where you may face legal claims or threats based on the information you published on your blog.
The Bloggers’ FAQ on Intellectual Property addresses issues that arise when you publish material created by others on your blog.
The Bloggers’ FAQ on Online Defamation Law provides an overview of defamation (libel) law, including a discussion of the constitutional and statutory privileges that may protect you.
The Bloggers’ FAQ on Section 230 Protections discusses a powerful federal law that gives you, as a web host, protection against legal claims arising from hosting information written by third parties.
The Bloggers’ FAQ on Privacy addresses the legal issues surrounding the privacy rights of people you blog about.
Bloggers As Journalists
The Bloggers’ FAQ on the Reporter’s Privilege is useful to bloggers who report news gathered from confidential sources.
The Bloggers’ FAQ on Media Access can help bloggers who need to get access to public records and government meetings, as well as secure press passes to help with newsgathering.
Other Legal Issues for Bloggers
The Bloggers’ FAQ on Election Law addresses the legal issues you may face blogging about political campaigns.
The Bloggers’ FAQ on Labor Law addresses legal issues with workplace blogging, including union organizing, protections for political blogging away from the workplace, and whistle blowing.
The Bloggers’ FAQ on Adult Material addresses the legal issues arising from publishing risque adult-oriented content, including obscenity law, community standards on the Internet, and the new 2257 regulations.
Click on the following link to learn more and to download a free copy of the EFF: Legal Guide for Bloggers.
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