Unfortunately, not everything about setting up a blog is fun. If you’re ready to treat your blog like a real business, some of the boxes you have to check off as you prepare your blog to go live (or update it’s existing status) are dry, tedious and sort of a snooze.

As with any business, it’s important to take care of the legal and technical aspects of your blog to save yourself from possible headaches (or law suits!) down the line. Not all blogs have them, and you don’t necessarily need them to protect your content, but a Terms of Use and/or Copyright Notice are two blog elements to consider incorporating with your site.

What does Terms of Use mean?

Creating a terms of use (or “terms of service” or “terms and conditions”) for your blog is how you declare (legally) how you can govern the relationship between your site and your readers and visitors. The terms are usually made up of a number of paragraphs that detail what you expect from your readers and in turn, what they can expect from you and your site.

Terms of Use identify what users may post onto or use from your site. They also specify what your obligations are, and what you can do in terms of editing, removing, and changing material (both yours and what is contributed in the comments). Terms of Use enable you to “reserve the right to deny access to users who engage in objectionable conduct and to remove content that you find offensive or that may subject you to liability from third parties.”*

*One of our favorite sources for info on understanding and creating a Terms of Use for a website is Citizen Law Project.

What is a Copyright Notice?

A copyright notice informs your readers or anyone visiting your site that your original work (written, photographed or otherwise) is protected by copyright. It allows visitors to contact you for permission to use your work, and essentially limits the possibility that someone who infringes your work could claim they didn’t know you had a copyright. This notice should be visible to anyone, most likely at the bottom of site, on every page. The verbage usually includes the copyright symbol (“©”), the year of first publication (or post), and the name of the owner of the copyright (probably yours). Note too, that you can substitute the word “copyright” for the symbol if you like.

Here are some examples of how you can model your Terms of Use or Copyright information for your blog:

For all of you blogging on WordPress.com, they’ve made their Term of Service available to all their platform’s users (with a few simple adjustments).

Why should you have a Terms of Use or Copyright Notice on your blog? To protect yourself, of course! Your blog is your business and your art and your personal project, so legally ensuring that you’re in control of your content and how it is used around the Internet is important.

Also know that if you haven’t gotten around to adding a copyright notice to your site yet – don’t fear. You do not need to have a copyright notice on your site for your work to be copyrighted – your original works are always protected, even if you don’t post a notice on your site.

*Disclaimer: Information in this guide is based on general principles of law and is intended for information purposes only. It is not offered for the purpose of providing individualized legal advice. Use of this guide does not create an attorney-client or any other relationship between the user and IFB.