Blogging Law

There's actually nothing like Blogging Law. Intellectual Property Laws cover everything even though the tendency is to have fanciful areas of law now-Entertainment Law, Media Law, TV Law, Internet Law etc. Yes, technology and innovation have opened up new areas of Law but we should all not forget the grundnorm-the right to protect our creativity a.k.a Intellectual Property Law.

Let me bring it home. We all know what happened to popular Nigerian blogger, Linda Ikeji recently? If you don't, then it is time to make Google your friend once again! In summary, I would say Linda was accused of:

(1) Not properly attributing reported stories to the original authors.

(2) Using creative works belonging to other people without permission.

That's plagiarism and intellectual property theft. I won't concern myself with the particulars of Linda's travails but as a law and a creative person, I am more than concerned about the little details that creative people generally ignore. Ok, I've deviated from "Law for Bloggers" as the title of this post suggests but what in want to address is useful for non-bloggers as well. Get familiar with these as rules and you won't have to bother with the "Letter and Spirit of the Law".

Here goes:

(1) Don't republish blog posts. That's lazy.Do a little research on that post you "stumbled upon", offer your own perspective, edit, attribute and you might well have an original story on your hands. That's what rersearch is and I dare say the opposite is plagiarism! The other way out of this is to cite your sources-that's attribution. Link back to the source blog post and you'll be fine. Read more about plagiarism here.

(2) Don't use pictures or publish videos that you did not create without permission or attribution. If you say you can't seek permission or attribute everything, It's either you set out with the intention to steal in the first place or you are simply lazy. The TMZs of this world have solid legal and regulatory structures in place so don't bring that excuse up. As a photographer myself, I will strnagle anybody who uses my pictures without permission. Those creations are like babies to us owners and you don't want to be tagged a baby thief or kidnapper. It's copyright infringement. You can either link to the owner of the image, buy royalty-free stock images, use Creative Commons Images or simply ask for permission! Yes, the owner could have licensed it in such a way that anyone can share it but then, you are not familiar with Creative Commons/Licensing, are you? I'll write something about that soon.

(3) Don't ever publish false  and damaging information. We know that gossip blogging is the new sensational journalism/yellow press and it drives traffic but you don't want to use all the money you make to pay lawyers like me, do you? As your lawyer, I would rather you comport yourself from the beginning and not expose yourself to defamation. I know that asking gossip bloggers not to publish damaging or hurtful information will happen when hens start growing teeth, so I won't even go there.

(4) Develop a Usage Policy/Terms of Use for your website. Guess what? Those crazy comments on Bella Naija and Linda Ikeji belong to the author of those comments! Yes, you own your blog but the crazy commenter still has Freedom of Speech.You can't just delete anyhow unless you had spelt it out right from the beginning! Make Google your best friend once again and find a nice template to modify.

(5) Have a Privacy Policy. Most bloggers usually want to have Newsletter option on their blogs to enhance reachability but in this no-longer-private world, you need to assure your readers that the email they entered into that blank space does not end up with that telecom company advertising on your blog!

(6) This last one is not about law but branding-get a secure hosting site for your blog as well as a customised domain name. My 2 kobo for Linda was not that Blogger was not secure. It is secure, I am on it but you won't see! It is I could also have If I want to. New domain name extensions are in vogue and the list of approved ones is growing. That's why my photography portfolio is at Dot Com is dead! I'll write something about that death soon! #RantOver

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