Thursday, January 13, 2005

Bloggers' Rights

There have been a number of articles and blog posts lately about people being fired for blogging. Or more specifically, for posting things their employers didn't approve of.

Example here. Bloggers' Rights page here.

I posted the following as a comment on someone else's blog that I like, and when I re-read my comment I liked it so much I decided to post it here. Perhaps now I will be ostracized by the blog community, but at least now everyone can learn to think correctly about this issue.

You're welcome.

Yes, some companies seem to have gotten a bit over-exuberant in their reaction to blogs, i agree.

but the key issues seem to me to be:

- blogs are a form of publishing, and as such subject to libel laws

- blogs are not private. by their very nature they are a public activity.

- your expressed opinions are your own private issue UNTIL you begin to mention others (eg, your employer) in a public and recognizable way.

- companies have a right to protect their brand. it doesn't matter if YOU think you haven't defamed their brand -- it's not YOUR brand, and you don't get to decide how it should be presented to the public. how they want to present themselves is up to them. they can fire you for being too NICE about their brand if that's not what they wanted you to do. it's THEIR brand.

- free speech is not the issue here. no one is saying you can't blog about your employer. what they're saying is "we do not wish to continue paying you to blog about us in a way we don't approve". there's a huge difference. i submit that
anyone who thinks this is "censorship" lacks a clear idea of what censorship is
and has never actually experienced the real thing.

Many of the companies in question have been hasty and humourless. You don't need a hammer to kill a fly. Often the firing brings much more attention to the issue than just counseling the employee would have. And there mere act of blogging should not be cause for any discipline unless that's spelled out in the employee's contract beforehand. But overall, it seems to me that bloggers are being a bit unrealistic, self-centered, and overly defensive about the issue. There is no God-given right to blog what you want AND work wherever you like.

5 Comments:

At Thu Jan 13, 07:11:00 PM PST, Blogger No_Newz said...

A-hem... "There is no God-given right to blog what you want AND work wherever you like." We know where I'm headed so I expect to be exempt from this discussion. ;)
Nail on the head for every one of your points! Very well thought and typed!
Lois Lane

 
At Thu Jan 13, 07:18:00 PM PST, Blogger Erik said...

Good points, but YOU'RE STILL FIRED!

-Kire

 
At Fri Jan 14, 01:23:00 AM PST, Blogger Stephanie said...

Well, I say, post whatever the heck you like, but don't be stupid - DO IT ANONYMOUSLY. Don't leave tracks so they can find you. Duh.

 
At Fri Jan 14, 10:30:00 AM PST, Blogger unca said...

Well, I agree (espcially with the spirit of not trashing your employer) but wish to add re:
-blogs are a form of publishing, and as such subject to libel laws
***Yes, this is true, but the libel laws would only come into play if something were said that was simply not true. Blogging an unsavory fact would not in itself be libel (as I understand it).

Also:
-what they're saying is "we do not wish to continue paying you to blog about us in a way we don't approve".
***Well, unless you're blogging on company time, they're not really "Paying you to blog about us..." They're really saying, "we do not wish to continue paying you while you're badmouthing us in public." (which seems reasonabl to me).
****As an aside -- you're at a party and begin criticizing your company in front a group of people. You're overheard by your boss. Should your boss have the right to fire you for this? (actually, I guess so)

 
At Sat Jan 15, 10:08:00 AM PST, Blogger No_Newz said...

Completely unrelated to this post: I have a sneaking suspicion that you are going to post like 15 things today or tomorrow. I hope you know if you do that my eyeballs may fall out. That is all. Have a lovely weekend.
Lois Lane

 

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