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Legal anatomy of a blog: A checklist to blog legally

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Owning a blog comes with it a host of legal implications, especially when monetizing through affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, or merely linking to commercial sites.  We have dissected the legal anatomy of a blog for you to use as a checklist to make sure you’re blogging legally.

This can also apply to websites that may not have a blog, as these legal tools exist for all online activity.

Terms

The words terms of service, terms of use, terms and conditions  (with abbreviations of TOS, TOU, Terms) are the rules that the user of the site must agree to abide by in order to use the site.

The terms should contain sections such as:

  • definition of key words
  • definition of phrases
  • the user’s rights to the site
  • the user’s responsibilities while using the site
  • a privacy policy (discussed below)
  • a cookie policy
  • other applicable provisions as required by law
  • other applicable provisions as related to account or payment details.

For an expanded break down on term provisions check out this article.

Grab a Terms of Service Policy Template here.

Privacy Policy

Privacy policies are either within the Terms or a separate page of the site that is a statement putting the user of the site on notice to the privacy policies of the site, especially in regard to the use of the user’s personal information. This policy should disclose the way information is gathered (ex. opt-ins, cookies, etc.), uses (ex. contact by site to party), disclosure of this data (ex. sold or shared with other sites), and management of this data.  The information the privacy policy covers can include name, address, contact information, financial records, etc.

Other provisions may apply as required by applicable law based on your geographical location.

For an expanded break down on term provisions check out this article.

Grab a Privacy Policy Template here.

Disclosures

If you are participating in affiliate programs, taking sponsored posts, or partaking in other commercial activities, it is important to remember the disclosures required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Read the entire .com Disclosure PDF by the FTC here.

Affiliate Program Terms

When you are running your own affiliate program, meaning having others be affiliates to promote your site, it is important to have program terms outlined and published for reference.  These terms will set the expectations of all affiliate activity and conduct, as well as reduce probability of miscommunications.

Suggested provisions include:

  • Description of program
  • Enrollment
  • Links on Affiliate Site
  • Program requirements
  • Responsibility of affiliates
  • Ordering processing
  • Advertising fees
  • Fee payment
  • Policies
  • Identifying self as affiliate
  • Limited license
  • Reservation of rights
  • Term and termination
  • Compliance with laws

These terms should be provided at the applicable step of the process and be readily available to affiliates during the duration of their affiliate-ship with your site.  If you are using a structured affiliate program (such as iDev) they provide a section to place the Terms for easy reference in the affiliate’s dashboard.  If you are on a more laid-back structure you may need to put these terms on a hidden page on site and link from an affiliate page sidebar and/or dashboard for reference.

Grab an Affiliate Program Terms Template here.

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