Bloggers Beware–Liabilities, Licensing, & Legalese

Like most anything in this world, there are benefits as well as risk.  Blogging is no different.

Earlier this month, the Associate Press (AP) announced that they are now recognizing blogging as a credible new source.  By recognizing blogging as a credible source for news, the AP will provide attribution whether the other organization is a newspaper, website, broadcaster or blog; whether or not it’s U.S. based; and whether or not it’s an AP member or subscribe.  As one of the leading news and journalism association, their auctions will likely be followed by others.

Bloggers across the world celebrated the announcement, but with opportunity comes expense and risk. Take for example, bloggers in Philadelphia who are now required to pay a license fee $50 a year or $300 for a lifetime.  The announcement came in August 2010 and set the blogging world afire.  And yes even your grandma’s free blogger blog that makes even one penny of income from Google Ad Words is subject to a licensing fee.  How or if the city plans to police those who choose not to license is not clear especially if you are an anonymous blogger or someone with multiple blogs.

As social media grows in popularity, so does the number of court cases that are filed in courts regarding online privacy, copyright infringement, trademark violation, and defamation.  Bloggers are no exception.  The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that the state’s long-arm statute applied to a nonresident who posted allegedly defamatory material to an out-of-state website about a corporation in Florida blogger from Washington state posted accusations to her blog that a recruiting company in Florida was engaged in certain criminal activity. A number of Florida residents, posted  blog comments on the article discussing the accusations.

The ramifications for bloggers and the blogging industry are enormous.  Essentially anyone who posts allegedly defamatory statements about a Florida resident to a website can be hauled into court in Florida possibility resulting in a hefty fine.  Stand behind your blog and think through your articles and accusations.  Because one day you or I may find ourselves defending these posts in court.

Although the idea and concept of blogging may seem old to some, it is very new and top of mind to many.  Because of the rise in popularity, it brings an element of excitement and acceptance.  The rest of the world is just catching up and until they do, especially the courts, bloggers can continue to shape the future of journalism, the workforce, and the way people accept and receive news and information.  It’s important to be aware, informed and cautious because playing in a sandbox this big opens us as bloggers to possibilities and also dangers.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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