After I posted on stuff pertaining to work, a number of friends commented to me on my “risky” behavior. True, blogging can get a person in trouble. One friend, a fellow journalist at another paper out of state, said if he had blogged on something occurring at his paper the way I had, it would have “raised a few eyebrows.”
Lucky for me, my bosses didn’t mind my post. It was even called “thoughtful” by some. But the truth of the matter is blogging can lead to legal trouble. There is a fascinating column on Poynter about the risks associated with blogging. (FYI the column is mainly there to promote a course they’re offering, but it’s still useful).
In fact, every time someone publishes anything online, whether it’s a news article, blog post, podcast, video or even a user comment, they open themselves up to potential legal liability. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because the Internet, after all, is available to anyone who wishes to connect to the network, and even the smallest blog or most esoteric discussion forum has the potential to reach hundreds of millions of people throughout the world.
Basically, the column lists three or four ways you may be liable legally for something you write. Most of it I learned in my Communication Law class at Syracuse. But here’s my summary:
1. Don’t publish false info about something/someone that is damaging to its/their reputation;
2. Get permission before you blog about personal info;
3. Using someone else’s name = a no no;
4. Guest bloggers/ user comments are OK;
5. No plagiarism.
These don’t seem like big deals, but no one wants to go to court. Blogging is fun, or at least I think so, and I want to continue doing it. It’s like any other privilege- don’t abuse it, and you’ll get to keep it and still enjoy it.