Blogging is no longer simply a strange non-word or a geeky fad—a it’s commercial need. A blog is an important component of the inbound marketing machine for many businesses, big and small, bringing in new clients and customers from both search engines and third-party websites. Even if it isn’t intended to be a marketing tool, your blog will at the very least represent the quality of your brand.
Your blog is a platform for the general public to learn about your firm, its personnel, and what you do. However, you should be aware of a variety of possible legal ramifications. The last thing you want is for your domain provider to shut you down or for your rival to sue you because of anything said or posted on your blog.
The “Big Five”—the five blunders that might land you and your blog in legal trouble—are listed below. While these difficulties may be devastating to a business (particularly if a lawsuit is filed), they are relatively simple to avoid if you follow basic blog etiquette and work carefully.
Accepting Liability Unknowingly
Blogs are an excellent location for you and your organisation to provide free advice: this helps to promote your brand, exhibit your knowledge, and illustrate the value that a prospect might gain from working with you in the future. The darker side of this is when you provide “expert” advise that isn’t all it’s built up to be.
If you present yourself as an expert and then provide bad advise, the individuals who read and follow that advice may come after you when their own plans fail. Worse, unless you’ve put a disclaimer on your website or in the specific blog post, you might be held legally accountable for any losses experienced by a customer/prospect as a result of following your advise.
To be safe, your blog should always contain a properly-written Terms of Service page, as well as a disclaimer page or disclaimers inside individual blog entries. That way, there’s no way for a visitor to hold you accountable for the consequences of the advise you offer. A nice example of a watertight Terms of Service may be found on the website of the Digital Media Law Project.
Obviously, you’re attempting to provide the greatest advise possible while also demonstrating your expertise in writing useful blog entries. However, no matter how knowledgeable you are, it is always a good idea to safeguard yourself with suitable paperwork just in case.
Making Use of Someone Else’s Content
On the Internet, content reigns supreme. It’s the primary reason people visit your site and the most effective technique to keep them there. Of course, “content” may refer to anything: blog articles, images, videos, podcasts, graphics, and so on.
When struggling to find enough material to keep up with demand, blog owners may “steal” content that isn’t their own. Using anything that you don’t possess the rights to, whether it’s a photo, a phrase, or even something as benign as a button graphic, without permission is prohibited. It’s also morally repugnant. And it’s generally the result of laziness.
This issue may be solved in one of two ways:
Content from Creative Commons
Creative commons licences differ, but in general, they allow for the use of material with a simple note or a link to the content creator’s own website. This greatly simplifies the search for graphics, images, and other stuff. In reality, most major search engines and several of the most popular photo-sharing websites on the Internet enable you to search just for Creative Commons content.
However, you must use caution and examine the rights accorded to specific pieces of information. Authors, photographers, and other content producers may object to their work being utilised for direct commercial advantage.
Alternatively, addressing the author and requesting permission to utilise the material may be the easiest route. This approach has a handful of downsides. It usually takes much longer—people are busy and don’t always check their emails on a daily basis—and you may have to pay for the information. However, if what you see is exactly what you’re looking for, it’s typically worth the additional effort.
Making False Accusations in the Absence of Proof
Libel is a risky business. If you use your blog to criticise people or businesses, you may be setting yourself up for a slew of lawsuits. Of course, you want to set yourself and your firm apart from the competitors, but pulling the legs out from under them isn’t always the ideal approach to do so.
If you want to post defamatory statements on your blog, be sure you have evidence to back them up. If you make remarks based only on your opinion—or nothing at all—you may find yourself as the defendant in a defamation suit, as Crystal Cox did in 2011.
Providing “Insider Information”
To add credibility to your blog, utilise real customer names, testimonials, and so on, but be cautious how you do so. The Federal Trade Commission really dictates how businesses may utilise consumer endorsements and strictly supervises the process. So, if your blog is a corporate blog rather than a personal one, be sure you’re in compliance with the FTC.
Posting insider information may also be risky. Disclosing business ties before they are public knowledge may contravene stipulations in contracts signed by your organisation with numerous business partners. You don’t want a beneficial connection to fizzle out because you acted too quickly.
Infringing on the Rules of Your Blog Platform
If you use a third-party blogging platform, you must follow the rules and restrictions that they impose. For example, most platforms (for example, Blogger, WordPress, and HubSpot) restrict the sort of material that may be shown, the monetization methods that can be utilised, and the disclaimers that must be disclosed. It is your responsibility to read all of the small print and unerstand the restrictions before violating their rules.
Crossing the line in this situation usually does not result in legal action, but it does often result in account suspension—and, worse, having your stuff removed. In severe circumstances, the firm may file a lawsuit against you or your business. Don’t let it reach to that point! Before you press the “Publish” button, double-check that your blog conforms with any platform-specific limitations.
Every single one of these legal blunders is absolutely avoidable if you blog properly and consider before posting anything on the Internet. Is the content you’re publishing legal? Is it moral? Does it have the potential to infringe on another’s intellectual property rights? If you can’t answer any of these questions properly, you may be skating on thin legal ice.
Blogs should be enjoyable and engaging places for customers and clients to learn about you and your company. While sass and sarcasm are acceptable, there is a delicate line between calling someone out and slandering their reputation. If you blog wisely, you will be rewarded with a terrific platform for your company.