Corporate Blogging Risks and Policies

"Corporate blogs, it seems, are everywhere. If you think of blogging as something your employees do on their own time, and shudder at what they might be saying about your company, you’re not alone. Until recently, corporate America knew blogging primarily as a difficult employment issue, one that led to several high-profile terminations when employees posted material on their personal blogs that companies deemed offensive or detrimental to the company’s interests. But now more and more businesses – including Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves, to name just a few – have realized that company-sponsored blogs offer a means of communicating with their customers and other constituencies in a direct, informal and participatory way. The basic idea is that some or all employees are allowed to post comments on company-sponsored blogs. The public can access these blogs and generally (but not always) can post their own comments too.

While corporate blogs offer novel opportunities, they also present significant legal risks...To minimize the risks, companies should carefully consider their blogging strategy and take proactive steps to minimize potential exposure. Such steps may include:

Creating a written policy for employees that sets out clear guidelines for corporate blogging and raises awareness about possible pitfalls. Companies may wish to have separate guidelines for employees’ discussion of the company in their personal blogs.

Establishing terms of use for the corporate blog and posting appropriate disclaimers that limit the company’s liability for third-party statements and other claims.

Regularly monitoring the corporate blog for content that violates terms of use, employee policies or applicable laws.

Taking the steps required to qualify for the safe harbors available under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Ensuring that any personal information gathered from users via the corporate blog is handled in compliance with applicable privacy laws and the applicable privacy policy.

Archiving corporate blog content in a well-organized and readily available form."

From this Howard Rice alert via this VentureBlogpost.