The legal pages you need and why they are important!
I’d first like to point out that we’re not lawyers. We’re just sharing the information we have learned with you to give you an insight into how important it is to protect your blog legally. When it comes to protecting your blog, we recommend that you seek the advice of a legal professional.
So now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s begin. Firstly, we don’t want to overwhelm you or frighten you with all of the legal policies and disclosures out there. However, we thought it would be a good idea to give you a heads up on what to expect.
There are legal professionals out there who can offer you quick legal services, templates, and solutions for a very reasonable price and guarantee the safety of your blog.
One of the biggest things that people overlook is their blog name!
- Do you know if the name is already taken?
- Is it already trademarked?
- Is your blog name ridiculously similar to another?
Check your name isn’t similar to others or already registered.
One of the first things you should do is check your blog name against any others out there. You can do this in various ways.
You can do a simple Google search for the blog name you are interested in to see what comes up. If yours is unique enough to use without being considered copying, then it’s a good start.
You can check business databases such as start.biz for name ideas. Also, check the United States Patent and Trademark Office website for registered trademarked names. You can also check names on the department of state website for your location i.e., Florida department of state.
Protect your blog name with a trademark
Blog names based on generic search terms don’t tend to be protected by trademark law and so can be duplicated without any repercussions.
You might think, “Great, that’s a safe bet for me,” but it works both ways. You won’t get penalized for duplicating someone else’s blog name, but they also won’t get punished for duplicating yours.
If you choose a name that is unique to your blog without being too generic, then this is protected by trademark laws.
To be sure your name is protected, you can register this on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.
Important legal pages
Having legal pages on your blog is the best way to keep you and your blog safe when it comes to the law.
Depending on your jurisdiction, you might not be required to follow every rule in the rulebook. However, there are at least three that are guaranteed to be useful for bloggers.
- What type of information your website gathers
- What it will be used for
- How you protect that information
Think about it. If you ask for something simple like their email address in exchange for a freebie, then you are gathering their information. You need to guarantee you won’t be sharing their information or abusing it.
The same applies if you sell from your website too. If you gather information such as card details and billing information, you are required to notify and protect that information.
A disclosure is a statement which you must have on any blog and blog page where you post sponsored or affiliate content. This also includes any social media pages with sponsored or affiliate links. If you can potentially make money from it, you must disclose it.
It’s simple to write a blog disclosure. All you need to do is explain to the reader the relationship between the partnership parties.
For example, if you are an affiliate, you must make the reader aware that there may be affiliate links on your blog post.
They also need to know that if they purchase through your link, you earn a small commission at no extra cost to them. Simple right?
The same applies to sponsored content, you have to let them know that the post created has been sponsored by someone else, or you have partnered with them to create the content.
The matter of disclosing is to keep your audience in the loop and not to mislead them. You must also make sure your audience is made aware of any partnerships before they read too far into the post. So the best thing to do is put your disclosure under your post title. You can also link off to another page on your blog dedicated to your policies and disclosures.
Disclosures and social media
When it comes to social media, you have to disclose any affiliate or sponsored content. There are different ways of doing this on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Firstly, you will have to have the disclosure on the actual post just like on your blog post. You also have to incorporate a hashtag to make your reader aware that your post has been sponsored or is an advert before they even read it. You can do this by simply adding #sponsored or #ad.
When it comes to Facebook, you have actually to apply to have branded content featured on your page. Take a look at this to get yourself familiar with the process of using branded content on Facebook.
An earnings disclosure is needed if you promote any products that are aimed at helping your audience make money.
An earning disclosure is basically to state that an income is not guaranteed. The user must be knowledgeable and make a genuine effort to put the strategies into practice and make them work.
If you release income reports on your blog, you must be honest, accurate and provide evidence of such income.
There are four building blocks to creating an earnings disclosure, which will help cover you on all bases. You should make the user aware that any earnings they may earn are estimates and are not guaranteed to reach the same income as yourself or other people.
You should also advise the user that they may not achieve the same results as other previous users and not assume they will have the same success as some of the testimonials they may read. Another thing to do is make it clear that any income achieved in the past may not occur again. They might not have repeated success. It all varies.
Finally, you need to make a clear statement that the user must put in the effort and hard work to make any progress towards being successful.
Terms and Conditions
The terms and conditions are really to protect you and your blog. These terms and conditions will be the rules of your blog covering anything from who owns the intellectual property in your posts to laws on any republishing and copyright.
You can also acknowledge your jurisdiction and where you would like to handle any legalities. Your terms and conditions will be on their own page but linked to from the footer of your website.
Types of laws, rules, and regulations
Some of the laws we have discussed below are related to the law your legal pages fall under. It’s essential to understand what you need, why you need them and what happens when you ignore them.
Copyright Law (with blogging)
The copyright law is a federal law that protects all original work, including:
- written work
from being stolen or replicated (without permission).
When you create an original piece of work, it is instantly copyrighted, meaning you don’t have to register it to receive protection.
However, if you don’t register your work and someone blatantly steals it, then you won’t be able to bring a copyright infringement lawsuit against them.
To add a copyright notice to your blog, simply add this to the footer of your website ‘Copyright © Date content was created or published, company name, brand name or your own name, all rights reserved.’
For example, ‘Copyright © 2019 Meant to be Made. All rights reserved.’
GDPR + GDPR visitor rights
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a data privacy law brought into effect by the European Union. Just because the word ‘Europe’ is in there don’t assume that it only affects Europeans and skip past this point, that would be a mistake.
GDPR affects the whole globe and carries very hefty fines if not complied with – we’re talking up to $24 million or 4% of global revenue (it all depends on which is higher).
You might find yourself a bit overwhelmed and scratching your head, but when you discuss all of this with your lawyer, they will point you in the right direction.
FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is the law that relates to sponsored content on your blog, website, or social media posts. You must be compliant with FTC as you can be sued if they find you breaching their terms.
Don’t assume that just because you’re a little guy that you don’t have to comply. FTC has sued the little guys before, and the fine wasn’t so small ($2.9m).
The FTC can target you for various reasons such as fake reviews, not specifying sponsored posts or affiliate posts, deceptive statements on privacy policies, and much more.
The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is a copyright law that protects digital work, copyright owners, and consumers. If you violate the copyright act, you can expect to be fined between $200 to $150,000 per infringement along with covering legal fees and attorney costs.
There is such a thing as a DMCA notice, which is a takedown notice you will receive to remove copyright infringement items. If you receive one of these, we recommend you comply urgently. Although you have received a DMCA notice, the original content owner may still contact a lawyer to sue for damages.
When it comes to trading or collaborating with others for a financial outcome, it’s crucial to have a written contract. If you’ve ever watched Judge Judy or Judge Rinder (guilty), you’ll know that a handshake and verbal agreement just won’t cut it, especially when there’s a complication down the line.
If you have a written contract, you won’t have any uncertainties about the terms and conditions, and everything is set in stone from the start.
It’s always important to get the advice of a lawyer if you are required to sign a contract that you don’t understand or if you need to create an in-depth professional contract when working with large scale companies and businesses. If you are a small blogger trading with other small bloggers for a small amount of money, you can easily create your own contract to cover this.
You should take a look at RocketLawyer when it comes to contracts and all types of documents to cover your business. It is a useful and thorough website that offers guidance and templates. Alternatively, Amira (A Self Guru) also provides an independent contractor template for your business, which will help save you any hassle and headaches.
Hopefully, now you are more aware of what is required for your blog legally and if you’ve overlooked any of these then you can quickly get them sorted. We recommend Amira from A Self Guru for this. Amira offers bundles to help you protect your blog quickly, effectively and affordably.
A note on Amira – A qualified lawyer and blogger who has successfully guided and helped a ton of bloggers out there starting out on their blogging journey and getting the legalities in place from the start.
Amira’s templates and legal bundles make the perfect option to help you deal with legalities online rather than seeking out a lawyer in person.