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Are You Covering Your Legal Blogging Ass?

As an affiliate blogger you enjoy the advantage of perpetual content – and the associated residuals – yet also need to be aware of the ramifications of perpetual legal exposure.  That is, if you’re going to write about having a blog, building a list, and making money online, you also need to have some pretty essential bits on your website.  A solid Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, DMCA take-down recourse and of course an Affiliate Earnings Disclaimer all make the quick list of must-haves (you can see mine linked in the footer).

Here’s a quick run-down as to why these elements are so important:

  • Privacy Policies help ensure your compliance with CAN-SPAM and applicable “cookie laws” relevant to your country and/or audience.  Even if you don’t have one of those exciting “cookie notifications” for first-time visitors, you should definitely make your Privacy Policy easily found (and linked) throughout your website.
  • Terms of Service (or Rules of Use, etc) provide you a base from which to govern your website.  Even if you don’t have registered members, per se, you will still have commenters and potentially guest authors.  A good TOS showcases your “rules of the road” at the very least, and can help protect your budding blog as your business grows.
  • DMCA take-down information is a must, particularly if you use any 3rd-party imagery, audio, or written content on your blog.  Simply put, if you infringe on someone’s copyright, the appropriate lawyers need a way to contact you to request (or force) a take-down.  Often overlooked by rookie bloggers, but important!
  • Affiliate Earnings Disclosures are the ones most people think of first.  However, just having one linked on your website isn’t always “doing enough” in today’s market.  Keep in mind the spirit of relevant FTC rules means your audience needs to know that you’re an affiliate linking to X or Y product that will pay you a commission.  Consider adding very obvious references (“hey reader, that’s my affiliate link, use it!”) in your posts, or add a short version of your disclaimer below each post.  Yep, I need to work on that for my site too!

Got all that?  Awesome – half the battle is knowing what you need to have on your blog to be a member of the affiliate blogging community in good standing.  The second half of the blogging legal battle is finding some great templates from which to write your own legal pages, right?  You can hit up Jeremy Shoemaker for free downloadable legal templates for your blog, then doctor them to meet your needs (but not too much, just make ’em personal, eh).

Oh – and to keep things straight – do note I’m not a lawyer or copyright expert. 🙂

I know – legal work can be a drag – but today is a great day to get it done.


About Kurt

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  1. You are so right about the need for DMCA. But a lot of us use the same site (name withheld)
    and copyright owners tend to write to them and not the blogger. (name withheld) will then just close the blog, and any others you may have. By having it you give the copyright holder a chance to contact you, but most the time it is not them that files.

    • Always better on the safe side, no doubt. Nobody likes losing a blog! For me, using a self-hosted WP site eliminates the micro-management one might encounter on the blog networks, thus for me is the only way to go. Of course, if I really screw up, any complaint could always go to my host (so I gotta play cool too lol). Thanks for the comment!

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