Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New FTC Regulations, Compliance, and Two Review Companies

Update (October 21, 2009)
"BlogsVertise not FTC Compliant"
Dragon Blogger (October 20, 2009)

"In my previous article SponsoredReviews not FTC Compliant I pointed out how the pay site SponsoredReviews is not meeting the new FTC guidelines that take effect on December 1st 2009...."

This is a very short post, with a very important message: Be aware of national and international law concerning intellectual property rights; disclosure; and anything else involving money or reputations.

And, don't assume that because a company being in business means it's following the relevant laws. Entrepreneurs and CEOs can be honest as the day is long - and clueless about the legal aspects of what they're doing.

Which won't help you, if you're working for them or supplying them with material - and the company collapses because of legal trouble.

Kudos! A Link to the FTC

I've run into discussions of the new American FTC (Federal Trade Commission) regulations. This post provides a link to a page on the FTC website: The press release starts with:

"Changes Affect Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers, Celebrity Endorsements

"The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act...."

The last time the guidelines were updated was around 1980, the FTC says, so it's high time that they be updated. This is no longer the world of "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "The Elephant Man".

I've read - scanned, actually - the press release. It seems to be applied common sense. like:

"...The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that 'material connections' (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other 'word-of-mouth' marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement...."

From my point of view, that's no problem. I'll be keeping these new regulations in mind - and reviewing that press release again - but it doesn't look like it'll affect the way I write. ('Lucky me' - not everyone will be in that position.)

The FTC press release has a link for registering complaints about dicey endorsements - and a phone number. And, there's a link to what the FTC calls "free information on a variety of consumer topics."

Finally, a disclaimer. Although I have no reason to believe that the information is anything other than accurate, I haven't verified Dragon Blogger's assertions about SponsoredReviews and Blogsvertise. I strongly suggest that you research the matter yourself, if you are interested.

I'd be more interested in digging up what's what with those two companies, but I don't deal with either. None of my blogs or websites depend on a service like theirs, and the Lemming's got his hands (paws?) full right now, nosing out interesting stuff on the Web.

Related post:
A tip of the hat to dragonblogger, on Twitter, for the heads-up on this post.

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