Anyone can create an online blog. All it takes is a computer with internet access and a few minutes of your time and, almost immediately, you have a blog. Unfortunately, people sometimes get into serious trouble because they are not familiar with federal law. Here are five of the things bloggers can do wrong that can them into trouble:
1. Internet Fraud
Many bloggers attempt to monetize their blogs by affiliating themselves with other services. But that can be risky if you don’t know the service. Anything posted online with the intent to defraud is illegal, period. It can be stealing personal information, which can lead to identity theft, or presenting prospective victims with fraudulent solicitations, or by conducting fraudulent transactions. Before you agree to accept an ad or a link for a service, investigate it thoroughly.
2. Libel and Defamation
Here in the United States, we are blessed with the right to Freedom of Speech. Each of us is entitled to our own opinion and has the right to express it. However, if you print something negative about someone that isn’t true, that is libel. Not only can you be prosecuted for it criminally, but as our criminal defense firm of Katz & Phillips warns, you can also be sued for monetary damages.
3. Violation of Copyright
We’ve all seen a cute picture or an article that we liked online. Many people believe that once something is posted online it is free for the taking. That is not true. Each time a photographer or artist creates a piece of art or snaps a photograph, that item is automatically copyrighted by the creator. The same is true for the writings of an author. If you copy, use or publish any of these things without express written permission of the creator, you can be prosecuted.
4. Abuse of Privacy
Along with our right to Free Speech, the constitution also grants us the right to privacy. You may not secretly film or photograph a person and post the pictures on your blog. Intercepting and disclosing communications between others, including electronic communications such as emails, can result in charges based upon federal wiretap laws.
Pornography is subject to interpretation. Because of this, the pornography laws are quite vague. What is legal in a big city may be illegal in a small town. Since the internet reaches everywhere, the federal government has adopted a policy of “community standards.” This policy judges the content by the standards of the community “most likely to be offended.” What is not vague is the government’s position on child pornography. Posting this on your blog will subject you to serious criminal prosecution.
All Internet crime is governed by Federal law. Any charges may be brought in a federal court, and a conviction will result in federal penalties, which can be severe. If you are accused of illegalities regarding your blog, it would be best to seek help from a federally qualified defense attorney who can assist you and guide you to the most favorable solution to your problem.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/newchaos/411423100/
Ann Bailey is a former journalist and current freelance writer for various Arts and Legal businesses. Ann is contributing this article on behalf of the Orlando legal team of Katz & Phillips. The law firm specializes in defending those arrested for internet crimes, as well as other offenses such as dui, theft, fraud, white collar crimes and domestic violence.