I am back with another legal guide! Blogging has a lot of legal aspects very few people think about. I therefore decided to address a few in this short guide that will help you get a good idea, as a blogger, of what legal elements you need to be conscious of when running your blog.
Of course, please take this as legal information and not legal advice. If you have any questions about your legal needs as a blogger, send me an email at email@example.com.
#1 Intellectual property
One of the main legal elements you should be conscious of as a blogger is the amount of intellectual property you will be dealing with. Whether we’re talking about pictures of you taken by a photographer, pictures of a product you were asked to review or simply your regular social media posts, you need to make sure you have the proper rights to be able to use this content.
When working with a photographer, for instance, address intellectual property in a written agreement between the two of you to ensure you will be able use his work for your blog and social media. As for product pictures, if you are asked to review something, ask the company to provide you with shots you can use in your blog post. Finally, unless you’ve taken a picture, always ask for the rightful copyright owner’s permission before using someone else’s content (if you are looking for more information about copyright law, I suggest you check out this blog post about the legal side of having an online presence or this one about copyright myths you really need to stop believing).
#2 Proper contracts with your team
As you grow as a blogger, you might consider working with people with different skillsets in order to increase the quality of your work and to allow you to concentrate on what you do best. Whether you are planning on hiring a photographer, a social media community manager or an agent, you should be putting these agreements into writing. If the individual you will be working with does not have his own contract (or if you simply want to make sure the individual’s contract is complete), I suggest you check out this blog post about essential clauses when hiring a freelancer. When in doubt, consult a lawyer to make sure both parties are properly protected.
#3 Influencer marketing agreements
All business relationships should be put into writing, and this includes relationships with the brands you will be working with. These agreements should include, amongst other things, clear and precise mandates, deadlines, payment clauses, if applicable, as well as any other obligations you or the brand should be fulfilling.
#4 Disclosure requirements
The Canadian Ad Standards require you to disclose any material relationship you have with a brand. This includes not only posts you were paid for, but also posts for which you have received free products. Affiliate links should also not be forgotten. The Canadian Ad Standards recently released their comprehensive set of disclosure guidelines. You can check out my blog post addressing them here or the guidelines themselves.
#5 Sales tax
Finally, you need to keep in mind that your blog is a business. In Quebec, you are required to register to collect sales tax if you have made more than 30,000$ over the last four consecutive civil trimesters. However, registering before hitting that amount will allow you to ask for a reimbursement of sales tax paid on your expenses (this may include your website hosting fees, cameras, accounting software, etc).
If you need any assistance with the legal side of your business as a blogger, you can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can click the link below to schedule a consultation.