Starting a blog or a website can sometimes seem like a big step – almost like setting out on a big journey. Not only are you going to be pouring your heart and soul into creating something that will be a reflection of your personality, but you are going to be putting yourself out on a limb and hoping that people will like what you create and possibly that it will turn you a profit in the process of getting seen by thousands of people.
This can be scary, and it’s understandable that many people are reluctant or might try putting it off. What doesn’t help either though is the worry some people will have that they might need to know more about the law in case they end up getting into trouble, or end up having their ideas or content stolen. How do you go about protecting yourself and avoiding getting into trouble, and just how much do you need to know?
The first thing you will need to know about when running a website or blog is copyright law. This applies to any content you create for your site which includes writing posts and articles and pictures and images.
Note that this says nothing about ideas. If someone writes an article that is clearly based on the information you shared in your blog post then this is not relevant to copyright law. On the other hand though, if you write an article and someone copies an entire section of it and posts it on their website, then you have a case to ask them to take it down. The same goes for images – if someone uses one of your images on their site then you should request for them to remove it.
This also applies to you though: if you are going to use an image you didn’t create then you must first ensure that it’s in the public domain or you will be infringing copyright. Of course you should never let users download things for free that should be paid for like software.
Code is a little more complicated. You can’t ‘patent’ a section of code (this gets more complicated with things like apps), but again if someone copies your code precisely then they will be breaching copyright.
Finally you might be interested in using a trademark in order to protect the name of your website and brand. At the very least it’s a good idea to check there are no similar sites or businesses using the name you’re aiming for.
There are also some other legal issues that you may have to consider, though this will depend on your business. For example, if you are selling things from your website then you need to make sure that you are protecting the details of your customers or you could potentially find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit. The same goes for mailing lists and other contact details – if you are going to share those details then you need to make sure this is stated explicitly before you collect them.
Similarly you also need to ensure that the content of your site can’t get you into trouble. This means making sure not to publish slander for instance (which is different from publishing a negative review or a rumour) and it means making sure not to give advice that could lead to a visitor to your site getting injured or breaking the law themselves. If you do, then using a disclaimer can be useful to avoid getting yourself into trouble.
For most people though these issues won’t be relevant. For the most part you can blog away happily without any worry of legal repercussions. If you’re unsure though, then you should always check first with a law group.
Author Bio: Warren Brown is a freelance blogger and an ace creative write with many years of experience writing for top blogs. Warren has written on a myriad of topics and has written several posts for us.