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9 Blogging Laws Every Blogger Needs to Obey

Blogging can be a great way to earn money. It’s a low cost way to start a business that could change your life.

But what you may not know, is that there are laws that apply to blogging and if you don’t follow them you’ll be putting your livelihood at risk.

Here are 9 blogging laws every blogger needs to obey.

1. GDPR

GDPR is a law that mandates that every company has to have adequate protection and security for their clients. Bloggers who are not complying with GDPR are subject to fines.

The GDPR is supposed to protect the data of EU citizens, but it has caused a lot of confusion among bloggers as well as companies. .

Bloggers should be aware of the regulations and abide by them in order to avoid penalties. If you need help figuring out what to do, check out our GDPR Guide for Non-EU Based Bloggers.

2. CCPA

The California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) is a state law that specifically protects the consumers.

The CCPA law is much broader than just blogging, but this act does apply to blogs. Similar to GDPR it aims to protect consumer’s data. If you are already GDPR compliant the main thing you’ll still need to do is add a section to your Privacy Policy that explains California consumer’s rights under the CCPA.

3. CanSpam Act

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 is a law in the United States that sets the rules for commercial email. And if you’re using email marketing as part of your blogging strategy then you are partaking in commercial email.

The act created a set of regulations for commercial email messages, mandating that messages must contain accurate subject lines and address fields, along with an opt-out function.

It also prohibits the sending of emails with misleading subject lines, and sets out tough penalties for violators.

When someone gives you their email address to join your list, you need to make sure you’re emailing them in compliance with the CANspam act.

4. Federal Trade Commission

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is a governmental agency in the United States that is responsible for enforcing consumer protection, truth in advertising, and other regulation. Blogging is a form of self-publishing, which has become quite popular in recent years.

The FTC has just released a set of guidelines on blogging which bloggers need to follow –

1. Bloggers need to disclose when they have been compensated by a third-party for promoting their products or services (aka affiliate relationships)

2. They need to disclose any benefit they may have received from the company providing the product

3. The blogger needs to say when they are blogging as an expert source and when they are blogging as an everyday consumer

4. When bloggers are being compensated or given free products from a company, this needs to be specified by disclosing that fact in the post.

These disclosures are crucial in blogging. It is necessary to let the reader know that you may be biased or have a conflict of interest. Without disclosing them, your content could very well be biased and untrue.

The requirements for blog disclosures depend on which country you are in. The FTC has guidelines for what needs to be disclosed and what does not need to be disclosed. They also recommend that bloggers provide hyperlinks to sources in their blog posts, which helps the reader verify the blogger’s claims if they want to do so.

5. Copyright

Copyright is the legal protection for original literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work.

Copyright is granted to the creator of the work and covers their intellectual property rights such as reproduction, distribution, adaptation and performance. Copyright law has changed greatly over the years and now cover many different types of media such as books, music, movies, blogs and software programs.

Copyrights are often violated on blogs and websites. And while you don’t need to register your copyright to protect your content. Registering it does provide you more avenues for seeking damages if your copyright is violated.

On the flip side you want to make sure you don’t violate another blogger’s copyright. One of the most common examples is a roundup post. If you’re going to use another blogger’s image as part of your roundup post – you need to get their permission otherwise you violate their copyright.

Related: What to Do When Your Blog Content is Stolen

6. Trademark

A trademark is a sign that identifies one person’s goods or services from those of others.

A trademark is an important asset of a business that needs to be protected. A trademark can be registered with the government of the country in which it operates. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has jurisdiction over trademarks in the United States and its insular territories.

Trademarks must be registered as a specific category. For example Dove soap and Dove chocolate are both called “dove” but they are very different products which is why they can both trademark that name.

Trademarks are incredibly complicated which is why if you decide you want to trademark you should hire an attorney that specializes in that area.

On the flip side, you want to make sure you’re not violating someone else’s trademark with the name you choose for your blog or product. While a search of the USPTO website won’t be completely comprehensive, it is a good place to start.

Trademarks and Copyright for Bloggers

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Learn about Copyright and Trademarks in terms you can understand as well as when you should hire an attorney or DIY the legal stuff. This 37 minute video will help you figure out, what you can and can’t do as well as what your next move should be.

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7. Disclaimers

Disclaimers are an important part of blogging. They help to make sure that the blog is taken seriously and that the blogger will not be held legally liable for any content they publish. Bloggers need to remember that disclaimers are really a form of protection.

A disclaimer is a statement in a blog post or on a website identifying by some means, typically with words or symbols, that the information contained in it is not reliable or accurate, and should not be acted on without further verification. Most commonly such disclaimers will be used as warnings about liability for areas of expertise or lack thereof in the fields of health, medicine, finance, and law.

(you’ll notice a disclaimer in the footer of this site)

8. Brazilian General Data Protection Law (LGPD)

The Brazilian General Data Protection Law was voted by the Senate of Brazil in April 2016 and it came into force in 2020, though penalties will not come into force until August 2021. This law regulates the processing of personal data in Brazil.

It’s pretty much Brazil’s version of GDPR, they are seeking to protect their citizen’s data.

9. PRO Act (Protecting the Right to Organize Act)

While not yet passed and signed into law, if your blog works with freelancers then it’s something to keep an eye on. While it’s debated whether the PRO Act would help or hurt freelancers, the argument rest on if you would still be able to hire them as freelancers or if you would have to hire them as employees.

Bottom Line

As there are so many aspect to blogging, this list of laws may not be comprehensive for where you live, but it’s a good place to start.

Blogging laws are constantly changing. Depending on the country and region, there are different laws and regulations that bloggers need to follow. However, a lot of it boils down, to don’t be shady. Write original content, give credit where credit is due, and be open and transparent with your readers.

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