Blogging has changed the world of publishing and has become crucial to the online presence of many businesses. Although blogging is great for instantly distributing your information and opinion, it is not open season online when it comes to the law. Here’s a quick overview of a few legal issues that you should be aware of as a blogger.
1 . Blogger Copyright 101
Just as copyright protects the words you write in your blog, you also need to respect the copyright of other content producers.
Under Australian law, copyright is automatic, so if you want to reproduce something on your blog that you think is protected, you should seek the permission of the original author. The ‘fair dealing’ exception in Australia is usually more complex than you may assume.
When it comes to reporting the basic ideas and facts of others, only the material form of these things can be protected by copyright, not the idea or fact itself.
2. Moral rights
Original content producers not only have certain exclusive rights when it comes to copyright, they also have what is called the ‘moral right’ to be identified as the author and not have their work misrepresented.
3. Trade marks
If a business or brand has registered a trade mark – say, a logo or a brand name – they may be able to stop you from using the same or a similar mark within Australia and seek compensation from you if you do not comply.
Just because a business or brand doesn’t have a registered trade mark, it doesn’t mean they have no trade mark at all. Common law trade marks may not be registered, but if they are recognised as distinguishing that produce or service from its competitors, Australian Consumer Law affords certain protection to these marks as well.
When it comes to blogging, you can’t just say whatever you want about those you are criticising. You still need to ensure that what you are writing as a blogger is legally defensible. See more articles about defamation law in Australia here.
In Australia, if you want to use someone’s name, image or likeness for commercial reasons, such as to promote or endorse a product, you need to seek their consent. If you don’t, you may receive a letter from that person’s lawyer.
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