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Legal issues Archives

Apr 7
How Much Freedom Should Corporate Bloggers Have?
David Bowen says, "I suspect corporate blogs (under whatever name) will never match the vibrancy of an even modestly-successful independent blog, simply because they cannot have the same free-wheeling atmosphere."

That got me thinking (thanks for the thoughtful article, David).  Is David right?  Are corporate blogs hampered by nature, or can they be as varied and outspoken and risk-taking in their posts as any other type of blog?

I think that in general, corporate blogging is more restrained and controlled than non-corporate blogging, but I also think that the reasons for that have more to do with inexperience and fear than with inherent limitations of freedom of expression.

Blogs are changing the way companies do business - so far, thousands of small and large companies have started blogs and enjoyed greater success by using them well (or, in some cases, failure due to poor use of a business blog).

Do you agree with David Bowen?  Leave your thoughts below.

Apr 6
How NOT To Make Your Corporate Blog A Legal Liability
The OUT-LAW blog says corporate blogs are a liability.  I respectfully disagree - at least, they really shouldn't be.  Here are four simple ways to keep your blog legally sound:

1. Don't put anything on your business blog that could be deemed inappropriate or illegal.

2. Don't plagiarize.

3. Joke carefully and tastefully.

4. Don't be cruel.

That's the simple version, but it'll work for you.  Don't be afraid of blogging!

If you're not afraid to talk about your business, you shouldn't be afraid to blog about it.
How Corrupt Is Business Blogging?
Matthew Tetrault at reports on the effects of blogging on businesses in a review of Blogging for Business: Everything You Need to Know and Why You Should Care by Ted Demopoulos and Shel Holtz.  He mentions how "blog swarms" of disgruntled customers can take on a big company simply by voicing their rants simultaneously.  Matthew, your article sparked a partially related thought in my blog-saturated mind:Rotten Apple.jpg

I wonder how much corruption there might be in the blogosphere - especially in the "business blogosphere."  This corruption might include:

1. Publishing false information or fabricated opinions about a company's products or services.  This could range from "Dell always rips people off" to "My own iPod Nano horror story."  How do you fact-check?

2. Publishing under a false identity.  How easy it is to pretend you're someone else on the Web!

3. Inappropriately disclosing information about a company.  It could be about your competitor, but it could also be about your boss.

What forms of dishonesty are most prevalent in the blogging world?  What do you think?
Microsoft Changes Its Blog Policy
I found two articles (here and here) at Yahoo! News reporting on a new change in the Microsoft blogging policy.  The big story is that Microsoft is finally bowing to pressure from its own employees after rashly censoring a Chinese blogger, and has edited its blog policy in response to the desires of the Chinese government.

The first article says, "Microsoft will only remove blogs when given proper legal notice, and even then, will only block access to that material within the country where it is deemed unlawful. The site will still be viewable from outside the country."

Microsoft will also tell the blog's owner why it removed the blog.

The first article goes on to say that "Microsoft's new policy is a clear response to the wide criticism the company received over the last month since it shut down the site of Chinese blogger Zhao Jing, also known as Michael Anti."

One stat that jumped out at me from the second article was that "MSN Spaces, which allows users to post journals, pictures and other content on the Internet, boasts 35 million users, including 3.3 million in China."

So the legalities of blogging are evolving and becoming more complex.  Companies that blog should keep up-to-date on their competitors' blog policies and on the laws about blogging in the countries in which they do business.  I've got a lot to learn about the laws surrounding blogging, so if you know where I can learn more about them, please let me know.  (Of course the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a good resource.)
Dec 1
What Do You Think Of The BadBlog Awards?

The 2005 BadBlog Awards are here.  No, I wasn't creative enough to come up with the idea (although, like you, I've seen my share of uuuuugly blogs, both business and personal).  I thought for a moment about trying something similar at Business Blog Wire, until I read about halfway down the comments thread.  The discussion is getting pretty intense at the awards site, and people are just attacking other people and sites left and right (and I'm not referring to politics).  Personally, I think we could use less criticism and more praise in the blogosphere.

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