Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How Do I Protect My Wife's Blog?


Dear Rich: My wife writes a weekly blog entry for a friend's blog which is syndicated on blogger. Her articles are well received and she has subsequently submitted different items to different trade magazines for potential publication. She currently receives no residual ad revenue from the blog's 'owner'. Should we separately 'trademark' or otherwise protect her articles under her name or company name? The concern would be that the blog owner could also submit her articles or otherwise generate separate revenue stream based on them. It is an unlikely situation, but we wanted to be educated on if and/or how to protect her writing. We've been wearing our Don't Drink and Blog T-shirt for months now (not continuously, of course) and we think it's been effective keeping drunks off of Blogspot. (We also support this Busted Tees special which made us realize how close we were to being Amish). One thing for sure, don't drive and blog.
Right, you had a question. We don't think you can acquire a trademark for the blog because we assume it's your friend's blog, not your wife's. If that's not the case, and your wife is co-owner of the name, the parties can register the blog name by following these instructions. Still, that will only get you the right to stop others from using a similar blog name; it won't give you the ability to stop copying of the blog's text.
Copyright's where it's at. Your wife already has the strongest form of protection -- copyright. She gets it automatically whenever she posts an entry. She can augment her rights by filing for copyright registration. Registration has some great benefits and soon we'll be posting an article on how to register blog articles (though this entry may help, for now). Assuming there is no written agreement to the contrary, your wife owns the copyright in whatever she creates. She impliedly gives her consent for publication in the blog, but not for anything beyond that use. So, if the blog's administrator/owner uses your wife's entries for some other purpose, your wife can legally prevent that use if she chooses to flex her copyright muscles. For the future, perhaps she may want to create a simple agreement explaining how any uses are to be handled -- that is what can be reproduced by the blog owner and her compensation for that use.