It seems like everyone has a blog nowadays. Here you are, reading our blog! Blogs are great for companies to generate content and share information and while more and more people and companies are blogging, lawsuits are a potential risk.
“Freedom of the press is a right that individuals have, not just newspapers and television.” New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971). However, always keep in mind that even protected speech has limits, and bloggers need to be mindful of their audience, plagiarism and very controversial topics.
Some areas of the law to consider when blogging would be invasion of someone’s privacy, defamation, and copyright infringement.
Under Ohio Law, an invasion of privacy is defined as an exploitation of someone’s personality, which would include the appropriation of their name or likeness; publishing someone’s private affairs when the public has no legitimate concern; a wrongful intrusion into someone’s private life which causes outrage, mental suffering, humiliation or shame. Truth is no defense to an invasion of privacy action. (See Ohio Jurisprudence, 2d Privacy § 9.)
Defamation in Ohio is defined as a “false publication that injures a person’s reputation or exposes that person to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, or shame, or affects him adversely in his trade or business.” Dale v. Ohio Civil Service Employees Ass’n., 57 Ohio St.3d 112, 117 (1991).
Copyright infringement happens when the blogger uses someone’s work, like words or photographs, without that person’s permission. Federal Copyright laws preempt Ohio laws.
By all means, go ahead and blog, but please just think twice before hitting send.