When your writing your next article for your blog, probably the last thing on your mind is whether this article will get you sued.

How do you know if your blog is complying with the laws and the FTC won’t come knocking on your door?

Thankfully, you don’t need to be in law school or become a lawyer to understand the blogging laws that I am listing here today.

So I will run you through 6 basic laws that you and your blog need to comply with.

Writers note: I am not a lawyer of any kind, so please consult with a real lawyer if you are unsure about any blog related laws.

Disclose Readers About Paid Endorsements

In 2006, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) was recognizing that bloggers were hiding or dishonest about business practices.

In response, the FTC issued a letter that said all bloggers must be open and honest about any kind of endorsements within their blog.

When FTC means being open and honest about endorsements, they mean being open and honest about any kind of relationship with the company or product you are blogging about.

That means, for example, create an affiliate disclosure if you are an affiliate marketer.

Any posts that contain affiliate links, you need to have an affiliate disclosure in a place where people can see it. Not at the very bottom, not buried in the middle of the post, but right at the top where people can see it and know.

Take my SpyFu Review for example, right below the introduction, I separate my affiliate disclosure from the rest of the article where it can be easily seen at the top of the review.

Cite The Source(s) and Author(s) of any Copied Content

We all know what plagiarism is.

While in middle school it might have given you a bad grade, in the blogging world, that can get you sued.

If you do not own any content that you include in your blog, cite the source(s) and author(s).

This is to protect content from being copied and thrown around by people who didn’t create it.

As I said, to avoid trouble, just cite the source(s) and author(s).

Correct Use of Images

There is legal and illegal usage of images on your blog.

Not necessary referring to what is on the image, but how you use it within your blog.

Laws were created with this in mind to prevent images from coming off as your own when they are not.

There are a couple of approaches you can do to prevent improper or illegal image usage.

  • Cite the source(s) and author(s): You can save yourself by just linking or properly citing the owner(s) of the image
  • Buy stock, royalty-free images: When you buy stock or royalty-free images, you don’t have to worry about copyright. In my case, I pay a monthly subscription to get access to a library of stock images that I use on this blog.
  • Look for CC (Creative Common) images: Creative Commons refers to how to image can be used by other people. If you go to Google Images, you can search for images with tags like “non-commercial use”, “modify”, etc. These tags are how someone else can use that photo.
  • Ask for Permission: You are also able to simply go up to the owner of the image, most likely through email, and just ask them if you can use their image.

Paying Tax on Blog Income

If your blog is anticipated to make $1000 or more, it is more than likely that you are going to have to pay federal taxes.

The way that the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) sees it, if you are making money with your blog, you are running a business and you are a business owner. Therefore, self-employment taxes may arise.

You shouldn’t be too discouraged though, because if you feel that you won’t have much of any profit after taxes, you can write off items that you use for blogging as a business expense.

By business expense, I mean software, electronics, office supplies, power and internet bills, etc.

If you don’t anticipate that you will be making more than $1000 with your blog, you might be able to avoid paying tax on your blog income.

Keeping Your Audience’s Privacy

Making sure that your audience feels safe when they go on your site is important when developing trust between you and the reader.

That is why a proper privacy policy is both important and required in all blogs, no matter the niche.

Online businesses are sued every day because there is no proper privacy policy page on their website. Although not just having one is enough, you need to make sure that the privacy policy page you have on your website complies with the laws and protects you legally.

Within your privacy policy page, you need to make sure that you say…

  • What information you collect from them while they are visiting
  • Why you collect the information that you collect
  • How the information that you collect will be used
  • When will you disclose the information you collected
  • How do you protect the information that is collected
  • How do you protect the privacy of children
  • How are cookies used within your website
  • GDPR compliance and visitor rights
  • How do you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act

Including Terms and Conditions

Having proper terms and conditions (in other words, terms of use or terms of service) in place will protect you from future lawsuits if they come up.

If you failed to set up your website the right way, it will be hard for your website to be defended in court.

Your terms and conditions are basically what the rules of your website are. What you and the people who come to your website can and cannot do.

They are important to have on your blog for legal reasons, such as…

  • Outlining what is considered lawful within your website
  • Terminating someone’s use of your website
  • Explaining how your refund and exchange policies work on the products or services that you sell
  • Explaining where and how a legal dispute will be handled
  • Explaining how copyright infringement will be prevented

Final Thoughts

While in the beginning, blogging might be a fun hobby to do in your free time, it can have a serious impact on your website and in court if you are uneducated on how to properly run your blog and what to have in it.

I want the best for you and your website, and having your website comply with these laws will definitely save you in the future.

If you have any further questions about anything listed here, or you just want to talk about this topic, leave a comment below this article and I will do my best to answer.


Joseph Chunta

Hello! My name is Joseph Chunta, founder of Your Average Marketer. I am here to help with managing the website, but I will be writing for it as well. Giving honest reviews on Marketing Services and helping the next aspiring website owner. On the side, I am a Solo Game Developer and Website Builder. Writing code for games and websites in my free time.

14 Comments

C.N. · May 25, 2020 at 9:13 pm

Thank you so much for this article, Joseph! As someone who is in the legal field, has graduated from law school, and will likely take the Bar Exam next year, I complete agree with everything you just said! Haha We must understand all of the legal ramifications of our sites, as we don’t want to be hit with a surprise lawsuit (some of our clients have been hit with just that, a surprise lawsuit. Haha). I really appreciate you taking the time to go through these laws, as they’re not always obvious. I am taking these tips to heart with my own website-I don’t want any trouble! Haha God bless you!

    Joseph Chunta · May 25, 2020 at 11:41 pm

    Hello.

    Frankly, no one wants a surprise lawsuit. While I can’t promise you will never get a lawsuit, there are steps you can take to walk away from the courtroom as a victor if you ever do get one.

    Thank you for sharing!
    -Joseph

Wakeman · May 25, 2020 at 9:50 pm

Wonderful information Joseph This one is bookmarked. Might just keep me out of a courtroom.

    Joseph Chunta · May 25, 2020 at 11:36 pm

    I do agree, staying out of the courtroom should probably be a priority.

    -Joseph

Phil · May 25, 2020 at 10:03 pm

Hey I live in the UK but these checks are useful world over. Its easy to forget this side if you consider that “its just a blog”. If its out there its your image and you have laws to you need to check. Always a good reminder. Useful thanks

    Joseph Chunta · May 25, 2020 at 11:38 pm

    Hello Phil.

    Most people when they start with a blog don’t think about things like this, especially when they are starting out and making little to no money from it. It’s good to stay informed about topics like this so you and your website can stay safe in the future to come.

    Thank you for sharing!
    -Joseph

Ferra · May 26, 2020 at 1:02 am

Joseph,

Thank you for sharing these important information that every bloggers should always follow. I agree that we really do need to play by the rules in order to avoid problems in the future, especially legal ones. Yikes!!

I live in the U.S. as well, so if later I get revenues from my site, I will obviously need to report it to IRS. My husband also suggests to apply for an LLC. That will be my long term goal though.

Once again, this is a great post. Very informative and educative as well!

    Joseph Chunta · May 26, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Hello Ferra.

    It is better to comply with these laws now and avoid legal troubles later than it is to comply with these laws later and risk legal trouble.

    Thank you for sharing!
    -Joseph

Stephen · May 26, 2020 at 1:43 am

Great post and excellent reminder. Ignorance does not get you off the hook. There are certainly issues that I had forgotten/neglected. I have filed all this information in my good information file.
Thanks you very much.

    Joseph Chunta · May 26, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Hello Stephen.

    I agree. Saying “I didn’t know about that” in court is not a good defense. You need to be educated on topics like these to avoid any legal trouble later down the road, or at least know you will walk out of the courtroom as a victor if it does come up.

    Thank you for sharing!
    -Joseph

Matt · May 26, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Hi Joseph,

Thanks for this article, I’ve learned some useful tips to avoid getting troubles in the future for my website. You explained in a comprehensive way and people could understand better via your links, especially the SpyFu review.

I do have a concern that If we embedded videos in our article, is there anything we should take care of? Like to cite the source or the producer?

Thanks in advance,
Matt

    Joseph Chunta · May 26, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Hello Matt.

    If you are talking about YouTube, in their terms of service, they say that you can, “use, reproduce, distribute, display, and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of YouTube and the terms of service.” Basically, YouTube allows any YouTube user to embed any video within your content without the need for permission. That is why they have the “Copy embed code” function. Now, I can’t say that this is the case for all video services, but this is what the terms of service say for YouTube, and I assume you are most likely going to be using YouTube videos.

    Although, it would be nice to cite the original creator.

    I hope this answered everything and thank you for sharing!
    -Joseph

Habib · June 11, 2020 at 5:38 pm

Your post is something we all need to read as vloggers and bloggers! As many of the laws we are not even aware of! I have bookmarked your website to come back to for reference in future.

Great contents by the way!

All the best

    Joseph Chunta · June 11, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    Hello Habib.

    Sadly, blogging is not all about just sitting down and writing articles. But it does help with preventing people from stealing content, images, and such and preserving fair use.

    Thank you for sharing!
    -Joseph

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