Legal Issues if you Outsource your Blog Content

“Sam, Sam, the Gorilla Man” by Beth Rankin from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I don’t believe in outsourcing my blog content, but I understand that some people do because they’re busy, or they’re afraid they’re not a good writer, or they’re not dedicated to maintaining their site. Whatever the reason, it happens. If you fall into this boat, there are some legal ramifications you need to be aware of and plan for.

Regardless of who you use to write your blog material, you should review every post before it goes up to ensure that the content is accurate, especially if you work in a field where misstatements can happen and readers could be harmed if they rely on your blog’s information.

Copyright
If you outsource your blog to a third party, your content creator owns the copyright in whatever they create for you unless you have a contract that states otherwise. Without this contract, they own everything and, at most, you have an implied license to use it on your site. If you want to repurpose a blog post, you have to get your writer’s permission; otherwise, you could commit copyright infringement by reusing the material from your own site.

Indemnification
When your writer creates a post, you often do not know what source material they used or where they got the images for each post. (Yes, every blog post needs an image.) There is always a risk that your writer will rip off someone else’s verbiage or image without your knowledge.

If you do not review each post before it is released on your site, there is a risk that your writer could post something defamatory or harmful to another person. The alleged victim in that case might sue you for damages because they were injured because of your website. To avoid this problem, you can protect yourself with an indemnification clause that holds the blogger responsible for the damage they cause or at least requires them to a pay your attorneys’ fees and/or damages assessed against you.

Clear Contracts
If you work with a third party content creator, you want a clear contract that explains all the pertinent aspects of your relationship – what they will create for you, deadlines, who is responsible for website problems, if they’re allowed to write similar content for others, how you’re going to resolve problems, who will own the copyright, and if the writer can use posts as work samples if they assign the copyright to you.

I love contracts. If the term “contract” is a turn-off for you, think of it as a relationship management document. All it is a document that lays out how your relationship is going to work. I made a video this week about how awesome contracts are.

When you work with third party content creators, not having a contract is not an option. If you want to chat more contracts for your content creators, connect with me on TwitterFacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me. You can also check out my books about the legalities of blogging:

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Comments

  1. This is fascinating, Ruth! Does it apply to agencies, also – if a company hires them to handle content development, does the agency automatically own all content copyrights if it isn’t addressed in the contract?

    • Oh yes, this topic applies when a company outsources its blog content to an individual or a marketing company. I recommend that marketing companies have a lawyer write or review their contract templates to ensure that they establish and protect the copyright rights they want to have in the deliverables they create for clients.

Trackbacks

  1. […] act of simply paying someone does not automatically turn over copyright of that content to the end user. Unless you specifically list the terms of use in your contract, the content […]

  2. […] act of simply paying someone does not automatically turn over copyright of that content to the end user. Unless you specifically list the terms of use in your contract, the content […]

  3. […] act of simply paying someone does not automatically turn over copyright of that content to the end user. Unless you specifically list the terms of use in your contract, the content […]

  4. […] act of simply paying someone does not automatically turn over copyright of that content to the end user. Unless you specifically list the terms of use in your contract, the content […]

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