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FINALLY, you decided to start a blog and make money online. Yasss. Oops, you better hold your horses. Because we’re going to talk about something serious here. That is, how to protect your blog legally. You may wonder, “Is this the right time to be thinking about this already? I’m just starting out.” Believe me, how to blog legally should be on top of your list.
When I saw my content published on another website without my consent, I was hysterical. Two things: one, I don’t know my rights and two, I don’t know how to protect them. Heck, I don’t even know if what I’m making needs protecting. Then, I wised up. After spending time researching, and consulting friends, I figured, protecting my blog legally is no joke. So, I started looking for legal pages for bloggers. But first, let’s talk about blogging laws.
Blogging laws every blogger must know
1. Copyright law
Copyright is a collection of all rights enjoyed by the owner of an artistic or literary work. Under the Copyright Law of the Philippines, individual and artistic creations are copyrightable. Examples of these tangible forms include, but not limited to:
- articles and other writings
- periodicals and newspapers
- musical compositions
- photographic works
- audiovisual works
- cinematographic works
- pictorial illustrations
- computer programs
And of course blog posts.
Is a copyright registration necessary to protect artistic or literary works?
In the U.S., Copyright Law is a federal law that protects your work legally. An original work gets instant protection as soon as it is created. However, registration to the U.S. Copyright Office is optional. In case you’re interested, or you want to claim statutory damages and copyright infringement lawsuits, you can have your work registered in the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington first.
The Copyright Law protects your work, as well as your moral and economic rights. As the owner, you are given exclusive rights to carry out and authorize:
- Reproduction of the work or substantial portion of the work;
- Dramatization, translation, adaptation, abridgment, arrangement or other transformation of the work;
- The first public distribution of the original and each copy of the work by sale or other forms of transfer of ownership;
- Rental of the original or a copy of an audio-visual or cinematographic work, a work embodied in a sound recording, a computer program, a compilation of data and other materials or musical work in graphic form, irrespective of the ownership of the original or the copy which is the subject of the rental;
- Public display of the original or a copy of the work;
- Public performance of the work; and
- Other communication to the public of the work.
Moral rights confer the following on the author of a work:
- To require that the authorship of the works be attributed to him, in particular; the right that his name, as far as practicable, be indicated in a prominent way on the copies, and in connection with the public use of his work;
- To make any alterations of his work prior to, or to withhold it from publication;
- To object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, his work which would be prejudicial to his honor or reputation; and
- To restrain the use of his name with respect to any work not of his own creation or in a distorted version of his work.
Do you need a copyright symbol to protect your blog?
It is no longer mandatory to have a copyright symbol for original work. However, a copyright notice is still ideal for transparency.
- The word “Copyright” or the © symbol
- Company name/owner
- The statement “All Rights Reserved”
If you scroll down at the bottom of this blog post, my copyright notice says, “Copyright 2019 The Greatest Digital Creatives All Rights Reserved”.
What do you do if someone copies your work?
For new bloggers, this can be scary. But first, you have to be aware of your rights as the owner.
Here’s what you can do.
1. As soon as you are sure that the company committed copyright infringement towards your work, you can send them a cease and desist letter, requesting them that your work be removed.
2. If the company did not adhere to your request, you can send a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Takedown notice to the company’s Internet hosting company.
If not, then you can proceed by filing a lawsuit. However, in order to file a copyright infringement lawsuit, you have to register your copyright first.
In most cases, the cease and desist letter would suffice.
For example, when you start a blog, one of the most important purchases you’ll make is getting a standard web hosting service for WordPress.
I got mine from Interserver which is $5 per month. To complete my purchase, I was asked for my full name, billing address, email address, and credit card information. This isn’t the first time I’m buying something online. To be honest, I was skeptical at first. I was uncomfortable providing my personal information. As a consumer, it is my right to keep my information private.
Other types of information that other websites ask include, but not limited to:
- Billing and shipping address
- Phone number
- Date of birth
- Mother’s maiden name
- Driver’s license
- Passport photo
In a nutshell, Terms and Conditions is an agreement between you and your website users which states a list of things you allow and don’t allow on your website.
Having a Terms and Conditions page on your website is a way to
- Protect your company’s legal interests
- Manage the use of your website
- Promote your business as professional and trustworthy
- Sets the rules of engagement between you and your website visitors
- Avoid and manage potential legal issues
I know this is overwhelming, especially for someone who doesn’t have a law degree (like me).
But I kid you not, this is something that new bloggers like you should take seriously.
Knowledge is power. Not knowing is not an excuse. Educate yourself. Here are some articles that you can find educational.
4. Online Defamation
Defamation is a false and unprivileged statement that is harmful to someone’s reputation.
There are 2 Types of Defamation
- Written (libel)
- Verbal (slander)
For example, you are a beauty blogger. You wrote a product review of a skincare brand stating their claims as vegan and cruelty-free isn’t true. The brand saw your blog post and sued you for libel. The company issued a statement saying they were deeply saddened by your false statement, and it hurt their business immensely. Thus, the lawsuit.
This example falls under an online defamation lawsuit due to a false statement of fact.
Do you need a disclaimer for your blog? The answer is, “Yass.”
A Disclaimer is a legal page and statement which helps you prevent future legal disputes. This is very important because it will prevent you from being held legally accountable for whatever content you publish on your blog.
Disclaimers cover different areas, depending on your niche and the nature of your blog. Some of which are:
- Affiliate links
- Testimonials and Product Reviews
- Sponsored Posts
3 Most Important Legal Pages For Bloggers So You Can Protect Your Blog Legally
Now that we have covered the most important blogging laws every blogger must know, let’s talk about the “How?”.
You see, knowing your rights is one thing. How to protect them is another. First, you need legal pages for bloggers. I found the very best in the market by joining Facebook groups for bloggers. That’s how I met Amira Irfan of Aselfguru.com. She is a business coach, full-time lawyer, and 6-figure blogger. For new bloggers, Amira recommends her bestselling Legal Bundle which includes 3 legal pages for bloggers namely:
And 9 bonus templates
✓ GDPR VISITORS RIGHTS POLICY
✓ GDPR EMAIL MARKETING POLICY
✓ EARNINGS DISCLAIMER TEMPLATE
✓ TESTIMONIALS & PRODUCT REVIEW DISCLAIMER
✓ SPONSORED POST DISCLAIMER
✓ LAWFUL USE OF WEBSITE CLAUSE
✓ THIRD-PARTY LINKS DISCLAIMER
✓ MANDATORY ARBITRATION CLAUSE
Amira’s Legal Bundle is one of the most important business investments I made on my blog. No regrets. Aaaand, here’s a little secret. If you click this link, you can get an additional discount on your purchase. Sweet.
The best part about this Legal Bundle is having peace of mind, knowing that a lawyer is the one who drafted these templates for you.
Sure, there are free legal page templates out there. But would you risk the thought of having legal pages for bloggers with words you can’t even understand (and pronounce), rather than something that is clear and explained in the simplest way possible (for you and for your website visitors)?
With Amira’s Legal Bundle, I am relieved, knowing that my blog and my rights are protected. I am aware that by taking action, I was able to protect my blog legally.
As a blogging business, it is important to invest in blogging tools that allows your blog to turn into a money-making machine on autopilot. There, I discussed how to have passive income through affiliate marketing for new bloggers.
So if you think spending money on legal templates is not a wise decision, think again. Amira is giving us an opportunity to earn our investment back as an affiliate. For every sale, you get a 40% commission. You can check her Legal Store here.
Other ways to protect your blog legally
Aside from content theft and other lawsuits, there are other parts of your blog that needs protecting. Here are other simple ways to protect your blog legally.
1. Disable right-click
How do you steal a blog post?
Highlight the text > CTRL-C > create a new document via Google Docs > CTRL-V.
How do we prevent this? By disabling the right-click function of our WordPress blogs. On your dashboard, click Plugins > Add new > Search for WP Content Copy Protection & No Right Click > Install > Activate.
2. Avoid using free platforms like Wix, WordPress.com, Tumbler, Wattpad, and Blogger
Did you know that using free platforms exposes high risk to be a victim of content theft? Having your own website and setting your terms and conditions on how your content is used by visitors is still the best way to go.
3. Backup your website at least once a week
Two weeks ago, I made a mistake of installing an outdated plugin. The result was a disaster. I can’t access my WordPress login page. I’m getting a 404 error on my other pages. I’m about to cry. Good thing I was able to access my website using CPanel through my web host. From there, I was able to remove the plugin and restored my backup files. I am using the UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin.
4. Secure your WordPress login page
By default, you can access your WordPress login page by adding wp-admin in your URL. For example, if your blog URL is www.shoefancy.com, your WordPress login page is www.shoefancy.com/wp-admin To avoid hackers from gaining access to your login page, you can hide it by using a free WordPress plugin. I’m using the WPS Hide Login.
5. Use a strong username and password
Avoid using your birthday, nickname, full name, any information that’s easy to guess.
6. Make sure your computer is safe
Secure your browsing history. Protect your sensitive information. Get a VPN. Namecheap offers plans for as low as $1.88/month.
7. Secure your website with SSL
Did you notice the padlock icon beside my blog URL? If you don’t have one, that means your WordPress blog doesn’t have SSL. Google may send a notification to new website visitors that your website isn’t secure. Therefore, Google warns them not to give away sensitive information. To avoid this, you can purchase an SSL. There are some web hosts that offer SSL for free (like mine). However, you can also buy it from your domain name provider.
8. Clean your WordPress plugins and themes
Do you have WordPress plugins and themes you don’t use? Keeping them slows down your website and takes space. Deactivate and delete them permanently.
9. Limit the number of times other users can log in
You can install the WordPress Limit Login Attempts plugin for free.
10. Do not share your WordPress login to “anyone”
If you have team members on your blogging business, do not share your admin login. Instead, go to your WordPress dashboard > Users > and create another User Profile for them. This way, you can limit website access by user roles.
As someone who runs an online business and is always open to content theft and other lawsuits, you can only do so much. Focus on things you can control. Login to your WordPress website right now and assess your content. Buy that legal bundle. Update your WordPress logins. Be a responsible writer. Freedom of speech has its limits.
I hope you find this helpful.
What blogging tips for new bloggers do you want me to cover next? Take care.