Blog U: Blogging, the law and business — a senior seminar

Blog U: Blogging, the law and business — a senior seminar
: I’m going to suggest to a certain university person I’m about to see that some essential lessons for bloggers could be put together as a tremendous service to this new medium. Imagine these seminars:

1. Libel law and bloggers. How to protect yourself. What you can and can’t do.

2. Copyright law and bloggers. OK, get off the Lessig high horse and get real: What can you quote; how much is too much; what are the limits and protections of fair comment? And how can you protect your own intellectual property?

3. Blogs and business: What do we know about selling advertising? Can we write off our blogs as a business or just a hobby?

4. Blogs and journalistic rights and protections: What protections given to journalists should be afforded to bloggers and what are our arguments in favor of them? What rights afforded to journalists (e.g., press passes) should we fight to get and how will we get them.

5. Blogs, credibility and ethics: See the next item.

Anybody want to sign up to Blog U?

I’m working on a cheer now.

Any suggestions for a mascot? The Ferrets, perhaps?

Church, meet State
: Related to this… Henry Copeland tells an amusing tale of capitalism meeting weblogging: Sgt. Stryker took an ad for a book then made fun of the book on his blog and then the author of the book bitched and then Henry gave the author a refund and then links were had by all.

But seriously, folks…. This is an issue for bloggers. You don’t want to dent your credibility when you enter commerce.

I’d follow a few simple rules:

First, full disclosure: Make it clear when you have a business arrangement (I did when I took The Week’s ad).

Second, consider recusing yourself from some discussions if you think some will suspect what you have to say because it has been influenced.

Third, be willing to turn down some advertising if you don’t endorse the product it sells.

Fourth, always label advertising as advertising. As a wise Time Inc. executive once said: Just make sure the reader is never confused as to the source of content.

Fifth and finally: Never but never sell your editorial space or opinion. Don’t plug something in your blog proper and not reveal the commercial connection, for when that is found out, your credibility will be totaled.