Monday, October 5, 2009

FTC to Monitor Bloggers?

I suspect this bit of news may raise eyebrows in the blogging community:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Federal Trade Commission will require bloggers to clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products.

It is the first time since 1980 that the commission has revised its guidelines on endorsements and testimonials, and the first time the rules have covered bloggers.
You can read the rest of this very short article here:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/FTC-Bloggers-must-disclose-apf-468964868.html?x=0&.v=2

Most of the books I review here are provided by the publisher, but I have never received a dime for a review. Sometimes I disclose the fact that the book I am reviewing was provided by the publisher or author, but I often don't think to do so. It's an 11,000 fine per violation! Will I face a fine for being forgetful? Am I going to have to include some legal mumbo-jumbo on each review post?

I wonder if this new regulation will cover magazines, too. They're doing it for profit. I'm just doing it for the love of it.

9 comments:

Alec said...

Yea this news has been making the rounds on Twitter. I don't think small book bloggers need worry at all. The FTC is more concerned with bigger fish, such as celebs and such. Since the legislation works on a case by case basis, I really don't think there is much to worry about for the majority of the blogging community - at least that a brief disclaimer in the footer won't take care of.

Tia Nevitt said...

Disclaimers . . . I hates them. You're probably right, but I'm thinking that celebs are probably going to be the LEAST likely to be swayed by receiving free products for their reviews. After all, their celebrity status could enable them to sell an endorsement for much more cash.

And then there's a little thing called incrementalism. First the FTC gets involved, then maybe the IRS?

T.D. Newton said...

Having skimmed the official release at ftc.gov, I think it's more of a disclosure than anything. No longer will the "results not typical" disclaimer be enough when using testimonials -- I think this is the bigger portion.

You, as a blogger, are probably somewhat protected since you're not exactly "selling" anything. Your opinion might endorse the reading of certain books over others, but we can get those books from the library rather than a store.

domynoe said...

I basically put a disclaimer in my sidebar saying I buy the books I review unless otherwise noted. That way I don't have to state that on each and every review and it covers my past reviews as well. I'd rather have the disclaimer than be sorry later.

Gary Farber said...

It'll raise eyebrows, but no blogger should worry.

Tia Nevitt said...

I suppose I'm not really alarmed . . at this point. It was something interesting to blog about, though!

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin said...

{tilt head, thoughtful look}

On the one hand, I really don't think you need to worry about the FTC hauling you off to court because you forgot to mention that you got an ARC from the publisher. Not only do we have all the assurances that they aren't going after bloggers so much as advertisers, but a book visibly stamped NOT FOR SALE, with clear instructions about likely places to donate it to isn't really worth the FTC's lawyers' time. Since that describes all the ARCs I've seen, I think you're safe there.{lop-sided smile}

On the other hand, I think it would be nice to tell folks. I wouldn't make me grab a book I didn't like the sound of. Nor would it make me reject a book I thought sounded more than slightly interesting. I just think it would be nice to know. {Smile}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Kimber An said...

Oh, good grief.

Shara said...

You should check out Book Smuggler's stance on this. People keep saying "Oh, this really doesn't apply to bloggers" but there's nothing in the actual guidelines (that's I've seen) that actually states that. So just because people SAY they won't target bloggers doesn't mean they won't pursue supposed violations if they're turned in. So if someone starts wondering about your reviews, they might flag you to the FTC, and in turn the FTC has to investigate.

Anyway, here's the link to Book Smugglers: http://thebooksmugglers.com/2009/10/smugglers-ponderings-on-the-ftc-guidelines-the-book-smugglers.html