EFF Bloggers’ Legal Guide

January 23, 2010 | No Comments Yet

Bloggers' Rights at EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted a Legal Guide for Bloggers that will hopefully clear many issues bloggers may face with regard to intellectual property, anonymity, access to media, protection from government seizure, and more.

You Have the Right to Make Fair Use of Intellectual Property. In OPG v. Diebold, Diebold, Inc., a manufacturer of electronic voting machines, had sent out copyright cease-and-desist letters to ISPs after internal documents indicating flaws in their systems were published on the Internet. EFF established the publication was a fair use. With your support, EFF can help fight to protect bloggers from frivolous or abusive threats and lawsuits.

The EFF disclaims that the guide is not a substitute for legal advice, nor is it applicable to bloggers outside the United States, but it’s a good to keep in mind nonetheless. We can never have too many guides, especially ones that keep can help get us out of serious trouble. Also visit this page for more resources like news articles, whitepapers, and other documents.

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US government cracks down on blogger giveaways

June 23, 2009 | 1 Comment

Although not applicable to the Philippines, it helps to be aware of this: The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is preparing more stringent guidelines on the way bloggers accept certain perks, which usually equate to writing blog posts about them.

The practice has grown to the degree that the Federal Trade Commission is paying attention. New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.

[..]

Existing FTC rules already ban deceptive and unfair business practices. The proposed guidelines aim to clarify the law and for the first time specifically include bloggers, defined loosely as anyone writing a personal journal online.

This is not a new issue, really, except that the US government is now looking into what should be considered legal based on arbitrary ethical standards. Which, of course, is not a black and white matter especially in the blogosphere.

Bloggers complain that with FTC oversight, they’d be too worried about innocent posts getting them in trouble, and they say they might simply quit or post less frequently.

“It would always be better for bloggers to self-police,” said Robert Cox, president of Media Bloggers Association in New Rochelle, N.Y. “We have laws on the books. They apply to everybody, not just people who write blogs.”

Yuli Ziv, who writes a fashion blog from New York, is working on one such effort at self-regulation, helping craft an ethics policy for about 15 Web sites as part of the Style Coalition started in January to help bloggers become more professional.

“It’s been an issue, regardless of the FTC,” she said. “It’s about trust.”

The safest route is to practice full disclosure at all times, which a lot of the pay-per-post and similar online advertising companies require anyway.

One can only wonder how the Philippine government will deal with this once they hear about it.

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