Most people begin their blogging journey with an intent to share a piece of their life with others. An inspiring and cathartic process with no intentions other than putting their thoughts and ideas out there for others to see and to find. What they aren’t counting on is a legal battle. But for many unsuspecting bloggers, that’s exactly what they get. Here are some tips for avoiding legal trouble while blogging.
Legal Tips for Bloggers
Before we go any further, I need to tell you that this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice. See how easy that was? If you’re posting anything that could lead to any serious legal, financial, medical, or any other kind of consequences for your reader, you need to post a disclaimer stating such. Even if it’s something as simple as a recipe for a homemade lavender bath soak that you use to help relieve headaches, you could be held responsible for an allergic reaction to lavender essential oil on the part of one of your readers if they state that your claim of “headache relief” constituted medical advice. When in doubt, make sure there’s a disclaimer.
Perhaps one of the biggest areas that bloggers should be paying attention to is copyright law. Before you publish anything, you need to be certain that you’re not accidentally publishing something that could be used to sue you. There are actually scam artists out there that will lure people into using their photos just so that they can sue you. There have also been cases where suits have been brought against content writers for posting content that is too similar to existing content.
Libel and Defamation
A lot of bloggers get in trouble when they let their emotions get in the way of common sense. If you’re a travel blogger and you’ve just had one of your worst lodging experiences ever, you might be ready to roast the hotel in your blog. Unless you have proof to back up any negative statements about the hotel, you might want to tone down your negativity and you definitely want to avoid hyperbole. If you have any questions about what you can or can’t say, or if you’re already on the receiving end of a lawsuit, you might want to contact an attorney.
Worse than being sued by one of your followers, is being sued by the taxman. If you’re monetizing your blog, you need to make sure that you’re reporting your income from that blog in order to stay up to date with your taxes. Another big issue to watch out for is affiliate marketing and any fees that you earn from advertising. If you are being paid to promote or review specific products, it’s essential that you make your readers aware that you aren’t exactly an unbiased user.
While these tips don’t cover every possible scenario where you might end up being sued, it’s a good place for you to begin. Start by following these tips to help protect yourself against legal action.
This post is written by Lucy Taylor. She is an avid blogger who enjoys sharing her tips and suggestions with her online readers. Working as a legal expert at LY Lawyers, Lucy often helps people dealing with legal problems, addictions and crime.
First published in June 2018; updated November 2021