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