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Education About Blogging

Education about the legal consequences of co-blogging can help bloggers make smarter decisions about whether and how to co-blog. Education may also establish some new blogging norms, such as entering into co-blogger agreements when appropriate. Bloggers are also a uniquely educable group; blogger word-of-mouth is very strong and disseminates key messages quickly. Therefore, blogger education offers some promise as a way to ameliorate blogger blindsiding.

Unfortunately, education isn’t a complete solution. Co-blogging law is complex and nuanced, and many bloggers will fail to grasp it. Worse, many bloggers will naïvely assume that they can always work out any difficulties with their co-blogger friends—failing to consider that friendships change, friends die, and third parties may seek to impose an unwanted characterization on all co-bloggers.

Among other topics, any blogger education effort should address the following specific points:

  • Bloggers should consider registering their blogs with the Copyright Office under Section 512, which may give bloggers some protection from copyright liability for the content of co-bloggers and readers who post comments.
  • Bloggers should think carefully before generating revenues from the blog. The decision to make money from blogging has some significant consequences. On the plus side, it will generate cash and may help the blog engage in a "use in commerce" sufficient to commence protectable trademark rights. On the minus side, it may lead to the formation of an implied general partnership—with numerous unexpected consequences—and may negate any coverage from the blogger’s homeowner’s insurance policy. [5]
  • Bloggers must trust their co-bloggers. No amount of legal prophylactics will cure an affiliation with an untrustworthy co-blogger.
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