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Blogging Legally in 2022 - A Complete Guide with Legal Templates

Christina Keough
Last Updated:

11 Nov 2022

Published On:

6 Jul 2022

min read

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How to legally start a blogging business? Whether you are a small or big blogger, you should always ensure that your blog is legally compliant to protect both yourself and your visitors. 

 

Here are simple ways to protect your blogging business with essential Legal Pages, Disclaimers, Disclosures, and Terms and conditions to help you avoid legal issues!

 

I. You’ve written a blog. What next?

 

You’ve written up a blog post and you’re ready to share your thoughts with the world, whether for informational purposes or just as a space for you to freely share your experiences.

 

However, there are certain legal components that you need to include before clicking “publish”. This is crucial for a number of reasons:

  • Denying any personal liability for information you include in your blog

  • Ensuring you comply with relevant internet and privacy laws

  • Protecting your intellectual property rights

  • Giving relevant disclosures (e.g. sponsored products)

  • Setting out any website rules for your visitors

 

II. Legal Pages

 

While specific contents may differ depending on the jurisdiction (e.g. whether your service manages visitors from the European Union), generally blogs have the following core legal components in common.

 

A. Privacy Policy

 

Data is an increasingly crucial cog in the workings of the business machine. It is used for many purposes such as driving marketing practices or enhancing the delivery of content/services. However, as dependency on data grows, protecting that information also becomes increasingly important. Drafting a clear privacy policy is essential towards this end to protect you from liability issues and to instil trust in your visitors that their data does not end up in the wrong hands.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Your blog is required by law to include a privacy policy that informs visitors about

the data collection, handling, and processing practices of your blog site.

This is governed by different blogging rules and regulations depending on where you and your readers are.

___________________________________________________________________________________

 

Examples include the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules.

 

Generally, a privacy policy should specify the following:

    • Types of data collected, such as:

      • Names

      • Emails

      • Location data

      • IP address

      • Bank details

      • Date of birth

      • Phone number

      • Marital status

      • Religion

      • Sex

 

    • Methods of data collection, such as:

      • Contact forms

      • Google Analytics

      • Cookies

      • Email lists

 

    • Why you collect data

      • Email marketing

      • Customer service

      • Measuring engagement

      • Product development

 

    • Who do you share the data with and why

      • Third-party advertisers

      • Payment portals

 

As an example, see DocPro’s Privacy Policy agreement which outlines the user data collected and how it will be used. Account registration details or application usage are personal data, amongst others, which may be used for purposes such as content recommendations.

 

You can also use a privacy policy template to be confident that you satisfy any relevant requirements.

 

 

 

B. Disclaimers

 

Not every blog writer is a professional or is obligated to provide accurate advice, even if their blog proffers advice on different issues. Hence, as a writer, it is important to include an explicit disclaimer that you do not take legal responsibility for anything published on your blog.

 

This acts as a notice to the users of the website that the author will not be liable for damages arising out of the use of content (whether information, images, or audio-visual content) on the platform.

___________________________________________________________________________________

 

Whilst this may not be a foolproof method for avoiding any liability or lawsuits,

this acts as a strong defence

to limit your legal liability for your published content.

___________________________________________________________________________________

 

There is no one-size-fits-all disclaimer, as disclaimers should be tailored to the content of the platform and its activities. For different disclaimers and purposes, you can check out our disclaimer templates to find what works best for your purposes.

 

For blogs, it is generally important to emphasise in your disclaimer that your content may not constitute professional advice and may only be for informational or educational purposes. Viewers should be cautioned to rely on your information at their own discretion, knowing that you do not offer any guarantees that success will follow from your advice.

 

Examples of commonly used disclaimers are:

    • Medical Disclaimer: Providing that the content on the website is merely for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice

    • Not Legal Advice Disclaimer: Informing the user that information on the website does not constitute legal advice

    • Fair Use Disclaimer: Notifying the user that the website contains copyrighted material owned by a third party; but that its use falls within the scope of “Fair Use”

    • No Investment Advice: Informing the user that information on the website does not constitute investment advice

 

Blogs often make references to other third-party content or links as well, especially if you are engaged in affiliate marketing. You should make sure to emphasise that you take no liability for such content and that your viewers should again rely on this information at their discretion.

 

Without a disclaimer, people who rely on your information might be able to sue you for damages. For instance, if you offer personal health advice and a viewer falls sick as a result, a disclaimer is needed to protect you from any lawsuits by avoiding any potential legal liability.  

 

Disclaimers can be included as part of the blog's terms and conditions or as a separate notice. Wherever they are placed, they should serve as a reasonably conspicuous notice of terms to consumers.

 

If disclaimers are hidden or difficult to find, they might not be considered by the courts when deciding liability. Hence, disclaimers should ideally be in the header/footer of the blog or show as a pop-up that every user reads.

 

For a more detailed guide, check out our post on the Top 10 disclaimers every dot com business needs.

 

 

C. Disclosures

 

Disclosures should not be confused with disclaimers – whilst they both create informative statements about your website, they are separate and provide different things to users.

 

Disclosures describe what the website is and provide users with information about the site and its content, whilst disclaimers are more concerned with the limits to which the site is liable for its content.

 

You should disclose any third-party content you include, such as affiliate links, advertisements, sponsored products, or any partnerships with third parties. This reveals information to your readers about advertisements, and how your site’s relationship with third parties might affect users.

 

Examples of commonly used disclosures are:

    • Advertising Disclosure: Informing the user that advertising is paid and inclusion does not amount to a recommendation or endorsement of the product

    • Affiliate Links Disclosure: Notifying the user that the post contains affiliate links (i.e. if they click on the link and purchase the item, you will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to the user)

 

For example, you can regularly see disclosures on social media posts (e.g. #ad #paid #sponsored) or when blogs disclose sponsored/free products they mention in posts.  

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

D. Terms & Conditions

 

Terms and Conditions (also known as Terms of Service or Terms of Use) are like the rules of your website, defining how users can interact with and use your blog. They should be placed in easily accessible areas such as the sign-up area of your site or the footer of your blog.

 

You will likely need to set Terms & Conditions if your blog allows user interaction, such as commenting on posts or uploading content. It is also crucial if you want to set rules about content creation or fair use of your content.

 

Terms & Conditions typically include the following:

    • Any rules of your website

      • Content Standards

      • Interactive Services (Comments, posts, etc.)

    • Intellectual Property rights

    • Prohibited uses

    • List of visitor rights and obligations

    • Reserved right to make changes to the site or terminate its use

    • Limitation of liability

    • Intended age of users

    • Consequences of breach of terms

 

Using a Terms & Conditions template can help you make sure you cover all your bases. If you are uncertain about which template to use, feel free to have a look at our guide on Terms & Conditions for different usages.   

 

IIII. Tips for Blogging Legally 

 

Other than the four components covered above, there are also other steps you can take to make sure your blog stays legal and liability-free.

 

A. Create Original Content

 

Take care to create your own original content and avoid plagiarising other people’s work. Once a blog post has been published, it is protected by copyright law and is governed by fair use regulations.

 

If you use or refer to other people’s content, make sure to cite your sources and include proper references to them.

 

B. Use Content Suited for Commercial Use

 

Check that the content elements of your blog are suited or licensed for commercial use. The easiest way to do so is to ensure you use royalty-free images or commercially licensed fonts.

 

Make sure to use a media release form if you are using someone's image/video for personal or commercial purposes.

 

C. Research the Applicable Regulations

 

Depending on where your audience is located, your blog may have to comply with different types of privacy laws or internet regulations.

 

If your site has visitors located in the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation will apply for any data you collect from those users. Likewise, other countries also have their own regulations which govern data processing practices.

 

Using a template may help you ensure that your blog remains compliant with the many different requirements.   

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

  1. I am just a hobby blogger and do not really collect information. Do I still need these blog policies?

 

Even if you are not collecting personal information through forms or other options on your site, you are still collecting some information from your users through things like cookies or Google Analytics.

 

Therefore, you should still take care to include a Privacy Policy and other policies just to make sure you have your legal bases covered.

 

 

  1. I am not located in the EU. Do I still need to be GDPR-compliant?

 

Yes. So long as you interact with the data of EU residents, you must implement a privacy policy that is GDPR-compliant.

 

 

  1. Do I really need to disclose whether a product is sponsored?

 

Yes. Some regulations, such as those by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), state that it must be clear that you are receiving an incentive to review or endorse a product.

 

 

  1. How well does a disclaimer protect me from liability?

 

Again, it must be emphasised that a disclaimer may not always be a fool-proof solution to cover you from all liability. However, having a well-drafted and obvious disclaimer will act as strong evidence to disclaim you from any liability.

 

 

Related Documents

  • Privacy Policy (with GDPR): A Privacy Policy template for a website or app, in which special wording has been inserted for European users under GDPR

 

Please note that this is a general summary of the position under common law and does not constitute legal advice. As the laws of each jurisdiction may be different, you may wish to consult your lawyer.

Christina Keough

Christina is a Legal Writer at DocPro. Christina manages the legal articles and blogs, identifies legal topics, and invites lawyers and legal experts to contribute. Christina holds a law degree from a leading university. If you would like to become a blog contributor to DocPro, please click the link below:

DocPro Legal Contributor

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