What are the Legal Consequences of Blogging?

Every now and then a new blog is born somewhere on the internet. People in general view a blog as an online diary to share anything and everything without bothering about the consequences. The fault is on both sides. We don’t see any blogging platform trying to educate bloggers about the legal consequences that could arise from sharing or discussing sensitive matters.

Moreover, only few bloggers take precautionary steps to avoid getting entangled into legal complications. If you as a blogger are unaware of the possibilities that could lead you to a legal battle, here are 5 legal consequences of blogging that you should be aware of.

1. Be aware of mass media laws
Now with social media and blogs, anyone is a publisher and is allowed to express what he or she thinks. This has consequences at least from the legal perspective. If you aren’t a Journalist or a lawyer, then it highly unlikely that you are aware of the laws that govern mass media. This means, whatever you write in your blog in fact comes under the jurisdiction of the laws of your country.

If you posted sensitive information in your blog, then even if you had only few readers, you could come under the scrutiny of the laws of your country. Therefore, you need to be aware that blogging may be free of cost, but the consequences that arise out of a sensitive post could embroil you in a legal battle.

2. Avoid copyright infringement
Copyright in general restricts others from making copies or derivative works. However, the volatile nature of internet opens enormous opportunities for copyright infringement because when information is available in digital form, it is easy to cut, copy, paste and reuse in different forms.

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As a blogger, if you don’t credit the author, provide source of information or provide link to the original work, then you could be filed under copyright infringement case depending on the severity of the damage, especially if run a corporate blog or if you copy from a high-profile blog. Additionally, the legal consequences depend on the owner of the blog and the country where you reside.

3. Stay away from defaming others
This is one of the most sensitive areas of concern as defaming a person or a corporation could trigger severe damages in many ways. Moreover, it is essential to phrase the fact correctly because if you make a false statement of a fact, then it could trigger a defamation case, especially if it reaches people in a short span of time. The severity of defamation case can be seen from a recent case that awarded a blogger with $60,000 fine for posting defaming material about a university employee.

In most cases, bloggers post information with an intention to expose the truth to public but if they don’t handle it properly then it could easily be taken as defamation.

4. Pay careful attention to images and symbols you use in your blog
In the name of creativity, if bloggers use symbols or marks that imply having an association with well-known corporation, then it could be treated as trademark infringement. Additionally, if bloggers try to imitate the trademark of a popular brand by using similar words or phrases, then it could easily trigger a trademark infringement case.

5. Respect others privacy
Privacy laws differ from by countries. If you post private facts about someone that is demeaning, or write in a way that seem like an intrusion into someone’s private matters, or post misappropriate images in your blog then you could be inviting privacy infringement case. If you run a blog that deals with gossips or celebrities then you need to be well aware of the privacy laws.

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Guest Post by Karen Carlat :
Karen Carlat is a freelance writer that loves to cover blogging and internet marketing topics. You can visit her site here in order to learn more on her.

9 thoughts on “What are the Legal Consequences of Blogging?”

  1. Hi Karen,
    Great coverage on the legal aspect of blogging.
    For the images infringement aspect, if we do not know the actual owner of the image, would it be advisable to just credit the site that we’ve obtained the image from?

  2. Hi,
    point 4 is very important. A friend of mine had to pay some thound dollars, because he used a photo on his blog he wasn’t allowed to use. Do you know if it is enough to have an image marked with something like: “please inform me if you think this image is your’s. i will delete it immediately”, to be save from getting sued?

  3. I completely agree on the violation of copyright, one has to pay a big price. To avoid copyright better to use tools like copyscape for content genuinity and use royalty free images or give credit to the source.

  4. Copyright rules of the sites must be considered. In case we over come the rules, we may be caught by the DMCA. Using the copyrighted images, symbols is also and illegal one.

  5. Wow! Had no idea there were such heavy legal consequences of blogging. While I certainly don’t go around defaming others, you have some super interesting callouts here. Thanks so much for this post. Karen!

  6. Hello Karen,
    Nice post that cover the legal aspect of blogging. It is basic term when you want to become a blogger. This article tell us how to become a neat and clear blogger that share our thought in-front of whole world. We should avoid the copyright for this we should use tools like copyscape for content genuinity. It tell us it is already use content, you create unique content.
    A lot of thanks to sharing awesome article!!

  7. Hi, Karen!

    Great tips on the legal side of blogging. When it comes to possible defamation, I’d like to add that free speech is a highly valued concept in the Internet; but it’s just as easily prone to abuse. From my experience, blogging from a fairly objective, journalistic approach is a safe path to take. When we do that, we might fail to do justice on the truths we purport to expose. How do you move towards maintaining reader interest and coloring within the lines?

  8. These are very important points, and I am glad that you put them out there. You can get yourself in trouble without even realizing it. One thing I like to do if i see something that I would like by bloggers to read, is to contact the original writer and ask their permission to repost with links back to them, I also ask if there is anything else they would like added like another link within the article. That has proved to work well, they appreciate the ability to say no but most often don’t.

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