I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time, both to give information and gain more writing practise. What I would love to do is write for people like me who are involved in distance learning and use a mac. I would ideally write about the ways I have found to study under these conditions- the methods and the tools I use. So there would be lots of mentions of software and reviews of how I use it.
But despite searching on the internet in general and copyright.gov in particular, I am none the wiser really about whether I would be able to do this at all, and what permissions I would need to get if I am. Also, I am in the UK, which I assume makes a difference. I don’t want to get into trouble or offend anybody, and I can’t seem to find the information I need.
Would any of you be able to offer me some advice please?
You can talk about software all you want. Under US law, at least, product reviews are protected speech: you can say pretty much anything you like about a product as long as it isn’t actively defamatory.
I have no idea what UK law says, though, and I am not a lawyer.
I agree with Katherine, as usual: go ahead and say what you wish.
2009 estimate of the number of blogs on the Net: 133 million and counting. *
They had nearly 350 million readers. *
You are bound to find some company.
I started with Blogger, but it’s also easy to create a FaceBook page and post to it.
As regards UK libel law: I’m not a lawyer either, but as a hack years ago I learnt UK media law and was later involved in accusing various people of unlawful killing of others, and none has sued me yet.
As is well known, libel law in the UK is more restrictive than in some other jurisdictions, principally because the burden of proof rests on the writer. But that shouldn’t worry you, partly because, as druid indicates, the blogosphere is generally just too big to be policed, but also because I imagine that all that you’ll be saying will be fair comment - that is, a view that a reasonable person could have held.
So “Publish and be damned!”
Edit: As regards copyright, in most Western jurisdictions there’s something called “fair use” or “fair dealing” that covers what you’re intending to do.
Additional edit: As regards not causing trouble or offending anybody, these too I wouldn’t worry much about. If your blog is interesting and informative, you may offend. Too bad! Tell your readers what you see as the truth - that is what matters.
Thanks everyone- much appreciated! That has made me feel much better about the idea. I will start drafting some potential posts
By the way, does the same idea apply to screenshots (eg. of my workflow) or does that come under separate rules?
Screenshots are your copyright, and any applications depicted in those screenshots are available to use under fair use laws, as are small selections of documentation and marketing, for quotes. Many software companies also provide sample materials and higher resolution graphics that you can utilise as well.
Libel shouldn’t be too much of a worry, just be a good journalist and check your facts before putting them up. While the burden of proof is upon you, if you can prove your facts in your notes, then they don’t have a case—should it come to that at all. I actually prefer UK law in some ways, to US law, which rests upon proving intent to slander, which is pretty grey.
But in most cases, developers will be happy someone is writing anything at all about their software.
And once again the wonderful people here solve in a few hours what I have been worrying about and trying to research for months! Next time I’m coming here first Thanks Ioa.