I’m not going to discuss the entire article, but there was a great article this morning on SiteProNews. The article discussed 12 laws bloggers should be aware of. It was a well-researched article and I highly recommend anyone involved in blogging read it even though I agree with every word of it. I would like to talk about one of those laws that has some stark importance to all of us.
It’s called deep linking. The author of the article recommends:
1. NEVER claim that a page or site is your work unless it actually is.
2. ALWAYS clearly distinguish between your work and someone else’s.
3. CONSIDER that deep linking is a pretty well-established blogging practice, so if you’re deep linking to other bloggers or newspapers, you’re probably fine. But that doesn’t mean that every other blogger knows the law, so you’re likely to get an occasional angry email. If you want to play it ultrasafe, consider emailing the webmaster for permission and including a front page link next to your deep link.
This is good advice. I can’t tell you how important this is because in our litigious society you never know who is going to slap a lawsuit on your for something stupid. A friend of mine received a cease and desist letter from a member of the New York Times family threatening legal action is a legal item wasn’t removed. The item was a couple of paragraphs of borrowed (copied/pasted) text from an article on a NYT website. My friend linked to the original source as required or attributive purposes and added his own comments to ensure the proper ratio of original text to borrowed text. Still, that didn’t stop this NYT contractor from making her threat. Which begs the question, if the big boys (girls) don’t know the law then how does that fare for the rest of us?
It is imperative that you understand the different ways you can use content and your legal obligations when doing so. My friend took out the borrowed text but he’s vowed never to use that source again. Too bad because anyone who has been online for very long knows that links drive traffic. Maybe she’s thinking the New York Times doesn’t need the help. That could be the case, but it’s clear they do need some kind of help.
My friend might have averted the problem if he’d asked for permission before linking to the other site. But when it comes to deep linking, permission or not, you must be sure that you aren’t passing someone else’s work off as your own. The ticket company that did so in the above author’s example failed to do that and got into real trouble. They actually were guilty of stealing content, though that may have not been their intent. Bottom line: Be wise out there. If you write a blog, know the boundaries. Follow the law religiously. Don’t get yourself into trouble.