Fashion Bloggers: Legal Issues You Need to Know
Having now entered the era of the influencer, it is no surprise that the number of fashion bloggers is on the rise and that they have become a crucial part of the fashion industry. With that said, there is no better time to start a fashion blog with the power of social media having a strong presence in the advertising and fashion space. However, it is important that you are aware of the legal implications and boundaries when embarking on a new project such as a blog. Here are a few “go-to” rules if you happen to be interested in, or have already started a fashion blog.
Tip #1 | Photographs: Who Took It & Who (or What) Is In It?
Photographs comprise the bulk or majority of every fashion blogger’s website. Whether it is a photo of your favourite outfit, favourite location, or favourite retail store, each photo has attached to it a set of specific attributes. One of the biggest legal issues that can arise is in regards to the source of your digital content. If you decide to work with a photographer to create unique content for your fashion blog, it is still essential to consider whether he or she has granted you permission to utilize their content on your site. More often than not, verbal agreements to such an inquiry will suffice; however, permission in writing is usually best. As well if you find yourself using a photo found online, it is crucial to request permission from the rightful owner of the photograph to ensure that he or she does bring a copyright infringement case against you. Further, if it is not already a decided term of the contract, it is common courtesy to refer your followers via link or tag to the rightful owner of the photograph (as demonstrated above in the header image).
Not only do fashion bloggers need to be mindful about the photographers, but must ask themselves: What about anyone or anything captured within the photo? It is important to ensure that the subject of your photo is aware that they or it will be the used on your platform under your handle. Further, you must be aware of potential copyright infringements found within the background image of your photo. An example would be infamous “angel wings” wall that numerous fashion bloggers visit and photograph located in Los Angeles. This wall is actually a piece of artwork by Colette Miller and is part of The Global Angel Wings Project. Before posting photos with creative content (that is not your own) lingering in the backdrop, you want to make sure you have the proper permissions to do so. *
Tip #2 | Sponsorship: Let Your Followers Know
After continuous blog posts legally showcasing photographs of your phenomenal style, there is a possibility of expanding your brand into working and collaborating with designers and other brands. This is a great step into increasing your recognition on these digital platforms! However, there are a few items to be aware of as you embark on this journey. Engaging and being a subject of sponsored posts make for a wonderful way to grow your followers and maintain a strong connection with your existing following base. However, the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards as of 2017 has in place regulations regarding how bloggers are to inform their readers of sponsorships or promotional gifts. ** It is essential that you familiarize yourself with these regulations in order to not be held legally liable for consumer manipulation. Moreover, from a marketing and entrepreneurial perspective, studies have shown that followers much prefer when fashion bloggers state whether a review or post was in fact sponsored, rather than leaving them guessing. This is because if you directly state whether a post was sponsored, your followers will take note of your authenticity, and thus come to your blog more often for advice. ***
Tip #3 | Who’s Idea Is It? The Problems of “Deep Linking”
As a fashion blogger, it may not be surprising that you constantly post about your favourite brand. However, if you choose to write about them or their work make sure to properly cite where you obtained this information. Often, hyperlinks act as a fashion bloggers best friend, and can redirect your followers exactly to the source of the content found within your blog post. If you choose to link information to a general page – rather than the specified page in which you retrieved the content – legal authorities may be more skeptical as to whether you plagiarized someone else’s work. Of course, third- party sites are often happy to have you link and share their content to your following base so be careful in the way in which you are linking. The more direct, the better.
Tip #4 | Contests: Disclosing the Rules
You may have reached the point on your fashion blog where you have gained a substantial following base strong enough to launch your own contest. Just as any other contest, make sure the terms and conditions of the contest are clear, legible, and available to all those who enter. Further, if any personal information (such as a email, username, or credit card information) is taken from the individual entering into the contest, ensure that your followers are aware of the way or protections you have in place regarding their privacy and data For example, you may want to use this contest as a way of collecting contact information to keep in touch with your most active followers. Do so, but let them know about their ability to “opt out” of any email notifications they may now have subscribed to. On this note, it is also important to mention that as of July 1, 2014, Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) came into effect. Its purpose is the protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses – including fashion bloggers – can continue to compete globally. Therefore, if your blog uses electronic channels to promote or market your brand, CASL may affect you and require you to have a mandatory “opt out” option. ****
Tip #5 | Protect Your Own Content
Last, but definitely not least, make sure to protect your own content. It is important to make sure your readers and followers are aware of the ways in which they may interact with your blog through commenting, re-blogging, or sharing your posts. It is necessary that you let your followers know what content is unique and under direct ownership of you, the blog creator, and the information that may have been inspired or directly borrowed from another source. This does not mean you should disallow individuals from utilizing your creative content, but rather have information educating those who want to use your content about their limits to doing so.
Regardless of whether your fashion blog is a hobby or a business endeavour, it is essential that you follow the necessary steps to ensure that you are doing so within the parameters of the regulations. At Fashion by Law, we are happy to help you build, strategically maintain, and legally protect your fashion and creative businesses and would be happy to consult with you regarding your fashion brand.
Written by: Alessia Monastero
As with all Fashion by Law posts, this information is to be used generally, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions, we welcome you to contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
* More information on The Global Angel Wings Project by Collette Miller can be found at: http://www.colettemiller.com
** The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards can be found at: http://www.adstandards.com/en/standards/canCodeOfAdStandards.aspx
*** This information can be accredited to: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/truth-will-out/
**** Information regarding CASL derived from: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/internet/anti.htm