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Blog policy for law firms and professional services businesses

A blog policy can be most important given a blogs capacity for nearly real-time dialog and your employees publishing information before carefully considering the consequences says Alfred C. Frawley, an intellectual property lawyer with Preti Flaherty in Portland, Maine, in an excellent article in today’s business section of MaineToday.com.

The potential legal issues generated by blogs:

  • Defamation and libel. Key area as seen by Frawley that requires a false statement of fact concerning a third person actually injuring the reputation or standing of that third person.
  • Copyright and trademark issues.
    • Protecting your rights. Copyright protection applies broadly to the content of your blog and is triggered when the work is created. No other action is required though additional remedies may be available when it’s registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registered or not, you may grant or withhold permission for somebody else to use, copy, distribute or republish your content.
    • Using others’ content. Though the Fair Use Doctrine may allow the use of copyright protected works for literary criticism, commentary, new reporting, scholarship or teaching, it is best to avoid taking significant portions of the blog you are writing about. Frawley advises using only as much and no more than required to make a point; crediting the original author; and linking to the original source for the complete work.
  • Rights of privacy. Risks of disclosing private customer employee information.
  • Business-related intellectual property issues.Disclosure of trade secretes, violation of securities rules.

Frawley says a blogging policy is advisable whether employees are blogging or if the company has a corporate blog and that blogging policy should govern use and content.

Take a look at the whole article. It’s one of the better one’s I’ve seen on the issue of liability and blogs.

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