JDB 046: Ruth Carter | The Legal Side of Blogging

Ruth Carter

Lawyers are, for the most part, a cautious bunch.  After all, looking out for the pot holes of life is what we do best.  So when it comes to our own marketing many of us have questions as to what we can and can’t do and say.  Can I respond comments on my blogs?  Can I put up someone else’s photo on my blog?  Should I even have a blog?  What are some of the ethical considerations?  Is a blog advertising?  Should I have a disclaimer on my site?

When it comes to online marketing it is easy to put information up on the web but difficult to control who actually reads it and what they do with it.  For some lawyers the perceived risk is too much and they either don’t get involved or fill their blogs and websites with so many disclaimers that they lose all effectiveness.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Today on the JDBlogger Podcast I interview attorney/author Ruth Carter.  Ruth’s latest book, The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers, was just released by the ABA and she answers all the above questions and more. You can learn more about Ruth and her practice by clicking HERE.

The Legal Side of Blogging

Tools of the Trade

In today’s Tool of the Trade segment I go over places you can get free photos to use with your blog posts that have the Creative Commons licensing.  I also discuss why I now purchase all of my photos through iStockphoto.com.

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  1. AV

    Ruth Carter’s blogging/social media insights were very helpful!

    However, using Creative Common (CC) photographs in blogs and other media can STILL carry risks!

    What happens if a third-party appropriates a photographer’s image without a license, affixes it with a CC license (either willfully or because they just don’t understand the CC process), and then reposts the image to a photo-sharing site, all unbeknownst to the original photographer?

    Since copyright is a strict liability tort, parties who come across and include the alleged CC image in their media, can be liable for infringement. Notwithstanding Fair Use, where one’s commenting on the photograph, using it to make a point, or other affirmative defenses, minimum statutory damages for a timely registered photograph is $750/image plus the potential recoupment of costs & attorney fees.

    My Best Practice:

    1) Use your own images;

    2) Pay a licensing fee to a well-established picture agency, as you do; or

    3) Before I include CC images in my media, I do a reverse Google Image Search to determine, among other things, if there are multiple owners of the image and where it came from. I’ll then send the CC owner an email, asking them to confirm that they did indeed affix a Creative Commons license and that I’m able to use their image derivatively and commercially. Once I receive their confirming reply, I feel I’ve done, perhaps, my “best” rather than a good-faith effort to secure permission. If I’m unable to reach the CC licensor, I skip using the image.

    This CC strategy has worked well for me. I feel I have eliminated most all infringement risks. But if, after performing my best CC practice, I’m found to have used a misidentified CC photograph, I feel my due diligence would only expose me as an innocent copyright infringer ($200/image liability).


  1. […] the book came out, I had the pleasure of talking about the book on the JD Blogger Podcast. Host John Skiba said that he liked the book can be used as a resource for lawyers with cases that […]

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