Are you a Canadian lawyer interested in starting a law blog? If so, good for you! Blogging is a wonderful way to get involved in the realm of social media. There are a number of things to consider such as which blogging platform you will use, determining your editorial calendar as well as permission from your law firm if needed.
I read an article from the Blog Herald titled 20 Legal Facts Every Blogger Should Know and I felt it was worth sharing with you. The article is based on US law but it’s a good reminder on how to conduct yourself and your content online.
- Your content will reach a world-wide audience in every jurisdiction. Remember that what is legal in one country may not be legal in another.
- Your content is being posted to a public forum. The law largely treats it as public similar to if you printed it in the local newspaper.
- You are responsible for your content legally and posting anonymously may not protect you.
- Copyright protects works of creative authorship and is a collection of rights over those works. Rights include the right to make copies, the right publicly to display/perform the work and the right to make derivative works.
- Copyright is given either to the author of the work or their employer if they are creating that work for their employment. (Contract work does not always transfer copyright).
- By default, copyright blocks uses of a work. If you wish to give broad permission to use a particular work use a Creative Common License to let others know the terms they can use it under. Likewise, if you are looking for a work that you can use, seek one with a Creative Commons license.
- The current term for copyright in the United States is the life of the author plus 70 years for individuals or 95 years for works of corporate authorship.
- Fair use is an exemption to copyright that allows others to use copyrighted works without permission for certain limited purposes. There are no bright lines when it comes to fair use and a fair use is decided on a four factor test that looks at each case in detail.
- The Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it relatively easy to get infringed copies of your work off a site hosted in most countries.
- Defamation is the communication of any statement, presented or implied to be true, that is false and puts a person, business and/or entity in a negative light falsely harming their reputation.
- Slander is any defamation presented in a transitory medium, usually spoken word. Libel is anything printed, published or put into a fixed form.
- Defamation can be communicated to one party or to a million.
- Truth is an absolute defense against a defamation claim but it must be a verifiable fact. Opinions are not libelous but they must be actual opinions.
- Libel is largely set on the state level.
- A trademark is a word, symbol, phrases sound or almost anything uses to identify a business or their goods/services. Registering a trademark helps protect it but it is not always necessary.
- Trademark law is designed to prevent confusion.
- Although trademarks protect things copyright can’t, such as names and phrases, that protection is limited to uses that cause confusion. You’re free to talk about businesses.
- There are four types of privacy torts: intrusion and seclusion, misappropriation of image, publication of private facts and false light, the latter of which is similar to defamation.
- Once a fact has been made public, it’s considered in the public domain and repeating it is not the same as making it public. As such, any information you post to your blog, Facebook, etc. is considered public.
- Privacy laws vary state to state.
How are the Canadian laws different when it comes to copyright, privacy, trademark and defamation? It’s a good idea to know US and Canadian law as your work will most likely be read in both countries. It’s also a good idea to get all your legal questions answered prior to publishing your post.