The publicity about weblogs has neglected to warn against the risks of legal liability. Whether you want to impart words of wisdom or copy something that caught your interest, the temptation to "borrow" is too great and too easy in Cyberspace. Whereas the typical Internet user may have heard of "copyright" or "trademark," they are unaware of the complexities and nuances of these areas of law. The legal tests and standards may be too sophisticated for the average user. Even practitioners and courts are grappling with what legal standards and interpretations are to be applied in Cyberspace, thus, leading to irregular and unpredictable results. The unexplored legal dimensions of the burgeoning cultural and technical phenomena of weblogs are ripe with pitfalls for the uninformed. As a potential author or reader of weblogs, be aware that yours and others intellectual property rights are at stake. As someone who supplies software, equipment or facilities, or provides Internet access or space for weblog hosting that enables others to create and maintain weblogs, be alert because your participation may be viewed as contributing to the direct infringement of intellectual property rights by webloggers. As an advertiser or promoter of products or services on weblogs, including fundraising activities, know that you too are exposed to liability. Finally, be advised that even something as innocuous as linking to or from weblogs could lead you into trouble. To assist legal scholars, the judiciary, and intellectual property and Internet experts, this paper attempts an analysis of intellectual property law as it applies to weblog content. This paper may also serve as a guide for all entities associated with weblogging and help them become familiar with key issues affecting their legal rights and responsibilities. Although several areas of law may be triggered when addressing weblog issues, including trade secrets and the First Amendment, this paper will focus on trademark and copyright law. Part II begins with an explanation of the concept, technology and uses of weblogs. Parts III and IV provide a framework for theories of liability and defenses under trademark and copyright law, respectively. Part V concludes with an overview of the future of weblogs, as they mature and gain a firm foothold in Cyberspace.
Attiya Malik, Are You Content with the Content? Intellectual Property Implications of Weblog Publishing, 21 J. Marshall J. Computer & Info. L. 439 (2003)