Blogger: Rachel Kent
It’s easy to forget the basics of seeking permission when it comes to using the internet. Photographs of everything are a mouse-click away, and I’ll admit that I’m guilty of clicking “accept these terms and conditions” without reading them all. But some rules need to be followed to stay legal online; here are five ways it’s easy to break the rules accidentally.
1) IMAGES: If you frequently use images on Pinterest or your blog, be sure that you have the right to use the pictures before you put them up. Doing a Google search for an image and finding one without a copyright or watermark on it doesn’t mean it’s yours for the taking. The best way to find royalty free images is to sign up for a stock photo account–and you can always take pictures yourself.
2) NEWSLETTERS: When you add contacts to your e-newsletter list, you must have that person’s permission to add the address and you also need to include an unsubscribe button in every note you send. Newsletter programs like MailChimp.com or ConstantContact.com prompt you to follow the CAN-SPAM act, which details these rules. It’s best to use programs like these when possible.
3) FACEBOOK PROMOTIONS: When you host a contest, party, giveaway or promotion on Facebook, you must do so on an app that’s not part of the Facebook platform. Facebook isn’t constantly policing pages for promotions like this (that I know of), but if you are caught breaking this rule, your page will be shut down, and you might be banned from Facebook use.
4) BLOG QUOTES: When you find a blog with an interesting quote or content that you want to highlight on your own blog, give credit and link back to the original blogger’s post. Depending on the size of the quote, you might need to ask for permission to use it. I’d say that for anything longer than a sentence or two you should ask for permission or summarize the idea in your own words and link to the page so your reader can check out the post if he or she is interested in reading more. There’s no hard and fast rule here (that I know of), so it’s better to be cautious when quoting another blogger’s work. Quoting poetry and songs is also a place to be careful. You need to be sure the content is in the public domain to use more than two lines without permission.
Be safe rather than sorry in all of these areas.
How do you make sure you are following internet rules?
Do you have other recommendations of ways we can keep internet use legal?