It took me a long time to mull over this post. The amount of knowledge I would need to fully understand this subject would either take me a lifetime of study, or a fat wad of cash to pay for the expertise. So, instead, because it’s Christmas, or there about, I decided to mull wine instead and take a light-hearted, gung-ho, hit and hope attitude to this legal stuff, so I can get on with my original mission, and my life. In fact, this post is taking me so long to write it’s already January, so belated Happy New Year everyone. Mulling wine still counts though, as it’s still cold outside, and mulling wine makes cheap wine taste better in much the same way as Sangria does in the summer. Anyhow, hope my attitude, and my wine habit don’t come back to bite me.
Legal stuff is required, as it turns out, if you want to produce a blog online. Yes, blogging is alive and well in terms of giving you creative freedom, and expressing your views, as testified by the millions of blogs out there in cyberspace, but, like with all printed medium, whether digital or not, you have to be prepared to cover yourself in the eyes of the law, or be prepared for the consequences. Silly me for thinking that I could just write what I liked on this funny little blog of mine, and send it out there on the worldwide web, without even contemplating the repercussions of my actions. What happened to freedom of speech? Turns out that even freedom of speech has its limitations, and in many forms, with scary words like libel, slander, obscenity, sedition, incitement, classified information, copyright violation, trade secrets, non-disclosure agreement, public security and perjury. I guess that’s just the world we live in.
In real terms I’m not sure that a readership of nearly 30 is going to have much impact on the world, but I do have to be mindful that one day, if what I am aiming for comes true, and 30 turns into 30 million, I will need to cover myself in terms of writing/journalism/blogging laws, and it is to that end that I am attempting to write this new post without my eyes ending up pointing in different directions, or my head just exploding.
Now I’m no legal expert, but just the word “LEGAL” sounds expensive to me. Although having laws is a good thing in theory, designed to prevent the world descending into chaos, it seems to me like the legal industry as it is today knows how to look after its own. By that, I mean, that the profession knows how to charge for its expertise, and seemingly, but not exclusively, out of all proportion to the earnings of the general population. All this, unfortunately, would imply that the law is only really there to protect those who can afford that protection, and really I mean afford to protect their wealth. Having said all that, it’s good to see an industry, able to look after their own. It’s just a pity it’s not possible in all industries. That’s just market forces I guess. Given that I am all about thrift here, I will be looking to get this subject covered off as freely as possible. I will also just have to hope that I cover off all the bases here, as not knowing one end of blogging law from another, I’m going to have to rely on information that other brave bloggers have left as a trail of clues out there before me. I will also have to hope that I never offend anyone enough to get sued. I’m doing a search on “Legal Stuff for Bloggers”, as I’m not even sure what technical terms I need to be looking for.
I’ve got to stress again that this aspect of blogging is almost completely incomprehensible to me. The first site I came to, and one of the easiest to understand, in a straightforward manner, one that I need, just to tick a box and move on, is from serendipityandspice.com. It covers the following sections:
- Disclosure Policy
A good place to start, I recon, as it also offers up suggested web locations for generating this stuff for free. Of course there is a question mark as to whether or not this information is designed purely for the USA, and whether as a blogger who lives in the UK I will be subject to separate UK laws. After all, this blog is attached to a .com web address and accessible worldwide so I’m not really sure what the truth is here. I tried doing a UK specific search but I can’t find the information I need in an equally easy to read and understand format, and I get a lot of crossover to actual UK law blogs. I don’t really want to dive into this rabbit hole, as I fear I may reach 50 by the time I surface out the other side again. Can anyone out there point me in the right direction?
As a comparison, I tried searching instead for “Uk website laws and regulations”. This search gave me http://www.ukwda.org. The UK web design association. Sounds official. This gave me the following sections:
- Registered information
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995
- Terms and Conditions
- EU Anti Spam Laws
Ok, so I’ll try to cover each of the bullet points above and see what comes out.
WordPress can help on this one. In the help section they provide a simple template you can use and copy into the sidebar with a text widget so it is visible at all times. Here it is:
© [Full Name] and [Site Name], [Current Year or Year Range]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Your Name] and [Your Site Name] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Hope WordPress don’t mind me using this. I guess it could be argued that this information is for use since it’s in their Support section, and I am a WordPress subscriber, or that sharing this information comes under “Fair Use”. Apparently though, this is a very grey area. Anyway, Copyright done, tick.
As a side note, anything you find on the internet,that you have not added yourself, broadly speaking, belongs to someone else, so if you use it without permission, do not reference the originator, and/or claim it as your own work you could be infringing Copyright rules. In the interests of solidarity with other content creators on the internet, I have gone back over my old posts, and removed anything that I may have posted that did not belong to me, no matter how much I may have liked it, or thought it worth sharing. I’m sure if it matters to me that much I can either find the originator to ask their permission, or find a way to make it more original in the first place.
Having said what I said about Legal advice seeming expensive, I did speak to a nice man, for free, at a company called SEQlegal.com. Here you can download legal policy documents for your website, for free, so long as you don’t mind crediting Seqlegal.com in the process, which sounds fair enough. Ukwda.org seems to imply that you only need this if you are planning to sell something on your website, which I’m not right now, so I can probably skip this one.
I am thinking about running ads, and making money from sponsored posts if I get the chance. I have signed up to Amazon Associates already, so I guess I should disclose this. The link from Serendipity and Spice leads you to disclosurepolicy.org, where a few simple button click options and Disclosure Policy is done. Add a page to your menu options, copy, and paste.
Couldn’t get the link to work on Serendipity and Spice. Downloaded the free document from Seqlegal.com. There are drafting notes to follow, which helps. The wording is a bit “legalese” so I hope everything is covered correctly.
The link to privacypolicies.com is handy. For me though, it seems like if I want to advertise or provide affiliate links on my blog, I have to pay $19.99. Back to Seqlegal.com where I can download a free one, and follow the drafting notes. Create the page as a menu item, copy, and paste. Done.
Some of the wording seems quite onerous, but I took out what didn’t seem relevant. My feelings on this are that Privacy is probably safe in the hands of a well organised, established, organisation like WordPress. In practice, how many of us read and understand this stuff. How many of us have the time or inclination to know the implications of our actions. It shouldn’t have any bearing on the reading and enjoyment of this site.
UK registered businesses are required to display company information. To me this doesn’t seem relevant as I am only an individual hobbyist blogger. Something to consider if this turns into a business.
EU Anti Spam Laws
To conform to these rules you have to make sure that there is an option to un-subscribe from emails. Luckily here, WordPress takes care of all that for you. If you opt-in to receive emails of new blog posts, there is always an option at the end of each email notification to opt out if you wish.
Wow, glad I managed to get through all that. Hope it makes sense to you people. If there is anything you see on here that is wrong, or could be improved upon, please let me know. As I have already stressed here, I am not a lawyer, so if you are unsure of anything, and need further clarification, please speak to someone qualified to talk on the subject. This blog is just a view on how I chose to tackle this subject, right or wrong. I think it just goes to show that, whatever we chose to attempt in life, there will always be hurdles to overcome, and how we chose to overcome those hurdles is ultimately up to us, and we live and die by the consequences of those actions. For me, I hope I have covered off this subject enough to keep me out of trouble, so I can be left to quietly and peacefully get on with subjects that interest me more than these. Now, where is that mulled wine?
Wishing you all health, wealth and happiness for this new year 2017.