Who Owns Your Blog? This is a question that makes me laugh just a little bit. My thought at the time I quit my old firm was that putting unauthorized content on-line was pushing the limits in my firm. Everything had to be approved by Big-Boss. One of the reasons I quit was that I wanted to blog, and there is no way my firm would support the effort and time that it takes to do it right.
My blogs back when I left my old firm were Ugly Betty; they must be cuter now. And apparently, I stole their idea. Posting unmonitored, unregulated stream of consciousness information on your firm web site definitely fit the old firm model. Broadcasting free information about client rights and legal issues was part of their pro bono activity, right? I should have anticipated this. When I think back on all those typos (well there are still some but that is the nature of blogging).
Of course, the point here for you the dear reader is this.... Who owns your blog?
What if two years after you leave your company, your old firm sues you for your blog? Not just the baby blog as it existed long ago, but the content and links you have generated since then? Moreover, what if they want your profits? After all, it must have been the blog, not the business model that landed all those clients! Clients are dumb, right? They sign retainers with the first blog they land on....
So who owns your blog? Some obvious questions you might ask:
- Did your company provide support for your blogging?
- Did they pay for the software or server space?
- Did they allow you to blog and provide resources for you to do so?
- Did they have an email or blogging policy that claimed ownership rights?
The answer to all four questions in my case was 'no'. According to their complaint, at least one partner knew I was blogging and that I took my blogs with me on departure (a big yawner at the time for him I am sure. I know it was for me).
But they now know from reading this blog that I did a lot of business off my various blogs this last year. Or maybe they just want the two blogs that existed at the time I left. Let's see, there was an auto no fault blog that generated a single client, who by the way retained their firm. Or perhaps they want my domain dispute blog that was a mere seed when I left. Then again, they really could not have had that blog since they would have had to defraud clients to do the work (they did not do trademark work, let alone domain arbitration). Or maybe the last blog, a vaccine injury blog, which I deactivated long ago, is the one that they want. HMMM...
These issues touch on many of us who blog. Of course, we will post all the pleadings, depositions and other public documents on-line as they are filed. Interesting indeed.