Are you a Blogger? Check Out This Legal Primer for Bloggers.

I get questions from friends and clients all the time about what is and isn’t ok to post on a blog in terms of copyrighted and trademarked materials.  The answer is not all that easy to explain, but Indianapolis attorney Kenan Farrel has an excellent post on his blog that does a nice job of explaining the issue.  You can read the entire post here (A Legal Primer For Bloggers – Intellectual Property), but I have included a few highlights below:

On copyright law, fair use, and transformative use:

Keep in mind that the law favors “transformative” use.  In other words, if you’re reposting another person’s original work, it’s more likely to be fair use if you’re using that work in a different manner or for a different purpose than the original.  While you may borrow directly from another source, adding your own commentary and content is better than strict copying.  Likewise, it’s better to repost only a small portion of someone else’s work than the work in its entirety.

On what to do if someone contacts you to remove their work:

Also, on a practical note, if you’re using someone else’s text or images and they contact you to ask you to remove them, you probably just want to go ahead and do it.  After all, there are lots of different ways to express an idea and usually hundreds of equally wonderful pictures to adorn your blog.

On nomative fair use of someone else’s trademark:

…while trademark law prevents you from using someone else’s trademark to sell your competing products, it doesn’t stop you from using the trademark to refer to the trademark owner or its products. That is called “nominative fair use,” and is permitted if using the trademark is necessary to identify the products, services, or company you’re talking about, and you don’t use the mark to suggest the company endorses you.

Again, you can check out the entire post, as well as two other posting in his “Legal Primer for Bloggers” series here.

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