Protect Your Blog, Your Reputation & Your Pocketbook!
Your blog is a projection of yourself. We (and the consumers) read it and we form opinions of you. This person is a good agent/stager/mortgage professional/inspector and we'll call them when we have business in their area OR they'll be ice skating in Hell before I call that person!
Us personally, we'll tend to give someone the benefit of the doubt (most times) when there's some perceived transgression, especially if it's apparent they're new to blogging.
But the bloggers need to do their part to protect themselves too. You might be inspired by a post and think you'd like to spread that message to your own local audience. That's cool....but there's two ways to do that without crossing the lines. You can reblog and do an intro, or you can take the inspiration of the post and write your own post, in your own words. Personally I lean to the second over the first. But copying large sections verbatim isn't a good idea. Some folks won't be mild mannered about it if they find out. Some folks are going to have their lawyer kick you where it counts, capiche? And while it might be okay to quote small sections with attribution, whole scale copy/paste isn't a good idea. And it doesn't matter if it's from one AR blog to another, or to an outside website.
Another common violation we see is around graphics/photos. If they still have the company website watermark across it, we'd venture to say that you probably don't have the right to use that photo. That's a VERY risky move. If Getty or some of the other copyright cops find your unauthorized use of their product, they're not going to be asking nicely for you to remove. There's going to be an invoice attached, and it won't be cheap.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that anything you find with a Google image search is fair game for free use, because odds are high that it's not. Protect yourself, and it's easy to do. Either take your own pictures, find a source of free graphics/photos (e.g. Wikimedia commons), or pay for a subscription. Frankly the annual fee we pay to www.iclipart.com is worth every penny. It's quick and easy to find what we want, and we don't have to worry about the copyright cops. (e.g. the knight picture, about 2 minutes to find what we needed on iclipart.com)
And as far as protecting your reputation, of course you need to consider your content choice. As an example, if you want to be known as the right wing (or left wing) political blogger, go right ahead. Free country and all that, but be aware that there may be consequences. Openly advertising your political views may very well isolate large portions of the buying and selling public from you if they don't share your views. And the same is true on any controversial topic. You may choose to go there, but understand the potential price for your choice.
Okay, enough lecturing for one day, class adjourned!
Keep on Blogging, but let's be careful out there!
(10 brownie points to the first commenter that identifies the source of that last quote!)
Liz and Bill aka BLiz