Legal Implications of Blogging & Activism

Legal implications of blogging and activism at ShiftCon

For most of us, blogging or using social media begins as a means of expression, but can turn into a business and/or a tool for activism.

We don’t usually spend much time thinking about the legal implications of what we are doing. And then we get a cease and desist letter from a well-known company threatening to sue if we don’t immediately stop infringing on the company’s trademark or Facebook has shut down our page because we’ve been reported as infringing on somebody’s trademark. What do we do? Or, we’ve received a letter threatening legal action because a blog post is allegedly defamatory. Do we have legal liability? Can we be sued? Or, we realize we might need a trademark, or perhaps copyright, or what?

How do we protect ourselves and our brand? This panel will provide an overview of copyright, trademark, and business formation issues designed for bloggers and social media users. We will discuss issues to consider when transitioning from blogging as a means of expression to blogging as a business. We will consider whether a blogger should incorporate or form a limited liability corporation. We will also discuss how such business forms can protect a blogger’s personal assets in the event there is trouble.

We will also discuss whether a blogger needs to file and register a trademark or not and what the difference is between copyright and trademark protection. We will also discuss the oft misused “fair use” exception to the copyright law. And, we will talk about how to protect your work if another blogger or company appropriates it without permission. So, we will discuss how to protect your text and images from being use, and how to use other people’s text and images WITHOUT getting into trouble. We will also discuss how to maintain and protect trademarks and copyrights.

We will also talk about the legal implications of having a permanent and searchable record that can be used by others – competitors, litigants, regulators and other people who would wish to do you harm. Your public record is a big deal. It can be used against you – when you are in litigation, when you are applying for a job, by a regulatory agency (the IRS and others), and more. Making sure that record doesn’t hurt you is something to be considered.

After discussing the basics of business formation, trademark and copyright, we will talk more about the legal implications in activism in the social media space. We will talk about defamation and whether and when bloggers are entitled to the First Amendment protections afforded journalists. We will also talk about defamation . . . and what exposure a blogger has for what she posts.

Workshop Presented by:

Jennifer Taggart–Jennifer is a blogger, author and attorney. She has been practicing law for nineteen years and is currently a partner with the boutique firm Demetriou, Del Guercio, Springer and Francis, LLP. She has counseled many clients with respect to business formation, blogging policies, trademark and copyright, and similar issues. She understands the difficulties on being a blogger on typically a limited budged but needing assistance with these issues. You can find Jennifer at thesmartmama.com or on twitter as @thesmartmama.

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Breathing Easier: 10 Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality

family at window

How clean is the air inside your own home? As a country, we tend to focus on pollution from outside sources: smog, carbon emissions and industrial waste. From dust to toxic gases, indoor air quality can be a problem right in your own home. Here are some of the top sources of threats to having clean air inside your home and what you can do about it.

Toxins Affecting Indoor Air Quality

According to Medline Plus at the National Institute of Health, there are 5 major concerns that lead to indoor air quality. They are: Toxin #1: Mold and pollen. Toxin #2: Tobacco smoke. Toxin #3: Chemicals inside toxic house products. Toxin #4: Gases like radon and carbon monoxide. Toxin #5: Building materials from remodeling, such as formaldehyde or lead.

Solutions to Clear the Air in Your Own Home

The good news is that you can address each one of these issues in your home. Here are 10 tips for improving the indoor air quality of your home

  1. Open the windows. Even a few minutes a day can help those toxins get out of your home!
  2. Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum and/or air filters. “HEPA” is a filter standard that ensures your vacuum or air system filters out tiny and hard-to-remove particles from the air. HEPA filters can help keep your home clean of microscopic irritants. Also look for air filters that can remove bacteria, viruses, and allergens.
  3. Test your home for carbon monoxide (CO), radon and lead. CO is easily checked with a working CO detector or alarm, just like your smoke detector. Make sure to keep a charged battery inside.  Radon can lead to lung cancer. While it is a bigger problem in some states like Pennsylvania, radon has been found all over the country. If radon has been found in your home, it can easily be removed in a short period of time. Lead obviously poses some serious health issues. Learn more about what you can you do to test for and prevent lead exposure in your home at Lead Safe America.
  4. Clean regularly with environmentally safe products. Many traditional cleaning products contain chemicals that have side effects ranging from irritants to outright carcinogens. Who wants those dangerous chemicals around in your home? Use eco-friendly, safe brands to clean like Dr. Bronner’s or Earth Friendly Products.
  5. Avoid chemical products to freshen or scent your home. The label “fragrance” usually means “full of nasty chemicals.” Try essential oils to freshen your air and keep opening those windows!
  6. Keep indoor houseplants. This easy trick is a great way to remove toxins like benzene and formaldehyde from your air. Here is a list of the top 15 best plants to clean indoor air.
  7. Don’t use pesticides for pest control. Most pesticides are based are full of chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other deadly or chronic illnesses. Many of them contribute to the decimation of our bee population as well. Use organic or DIY lawn care to keep your garden green!
  8. Use no- or low-VOC paint and take care when remodeling. VOC’s, or volatile organic compounds, are a common chemical in house paint. According to the EPA, they can have negative effects on the central nervous system, liver, kidney and more, and may cause cancer.
  9. Buy furniture that does not off-gas. New furniture, such as couches and mattresses, often expel toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, phthalates, flame-retardants, water repellants, VOC’s and more. These toxins can take years to off-gas. It’s much safer to buy clean secondhand furniture or select an organic and/or allergy-free brand for mattresses, blankets and covers.
  10. Ban smoking from your home. If you make it inconvenient, your loved ones will smoke less!

Selecting Clean Products For Better Indoor Air Quality

Here are a few suggestions to help you choose better products to keep your air and home safe.

  • If you are remodeling, check out Healthy Child Healthy World’s “Easy Steps to Healthy Home Improvement.”
  • Naturepedic LogoNaturepedic makes mattresses for adults, babies and kids that are organic. They also carry mattress toppers, bassinets and cradles, pillows, sheets, and, for adults, adjustable beds.  Because babies sleep for most of their day, Naturepedic takes special care with their baby crib mattresses, using certified organic cotton and a PLA comfort layer, which is a new fiber made entirely from plants. They also use a food-grade polyethylene for waterproof models. They never use flame retardant chemicals but rather design a safe, nontoxic product that meets all the Federal and State flammability standards. They also have the GREENGUARD GOLD certification, ensuring all their products are safe and are a trusted partner of Healthy Child Healthy World.
  • Earth Friendly ProductsEarth Friendly Products carries a full line of Earth friendly cleaning products for your home, from bathroom to kitchen, to laundry and pet messes. Not only are they lean and green, they are committed to sustainability and are now certified Carbon Neutral and use 100% green energy to create their products. They are also cruelty-free. They also carry a special line at Baby ECOS for babies, including Stain & Odor Remover, Bottle & Dish Wash and Toy & Table Cleaner. They worked with the EPA to make their Baby ECOS Laundry Detergent Free & Clear certified.
  • bronnersDr. Bronner’s are the soap makers that use ethical sourcing, certified fair trade practices and organic sources for all products. They support GMO labeling too. They carry a full line of body care products, from high quality castile soaps to a liquid hand sanitizer that won’t harm your family. They also carry Sal Suds Liquid Cleaners, an all-purpose cleaner for everything from counters to dishes to laundry. Their mission? “Dedicating all our profits to helping make a better world.”

What do you do to keep the air quality in your home clean and clear of toxins?  Naturepedic, Earth Friendly Products and Dr. Bronner’s are sponsors of ShiftCon.

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Announcing ShiftCon2014 Sponsor: Only Organic

  We are so excited to announce Only Organic as one of our main sponsors for ShiftCon 2014. Only Organic is a group of people who are devoted to telling the story of organic agriculture and food production with the hope of instilling the peace of mind that going organic gives. They aim to create a better […]

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Announcing ShiftCon Sponsor: Manitoba Harvest

We are excited to announce a swag bag sponsor for ShiftCon 2014, Manitoba Harvest.   Manitoba Harvest is a company that focuses on promoting health and wellness, fostering positive chance for the community and environment, and love for Hemp foods. They offer Hemp based products including Hemp Hearts, Hemp Protein Powder, and Hemp Oil. All their […]

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ShiftCon Panel: Why Are We So Allergic?

Food allergies and food intolerances are on the rise. THAT is a fact. A study released in JAMA Pediatrics found that children born in the U.S. are almost twice as likely to develop allergic diseases than children born in other countries.  The study, which used health survey data with close to 80,000 children, revealed that […]

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good gut health

Good Gut Health: Why You Need it Now

Did you know that your gut plays such a major role in your system that it has been dubbed “the second brain”? In 1998, Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center wrote the book “The Second Brain,” which is what he calls the neurons […]

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ShiftCon Workshop: Obesogens–The Real Gremlins of Weight Loss

In folklore, gremlins were mischievous imps that sabotaged machinery. These tricksters were the hidden culprits behind inexplicable problems. For pilots in World Wars I and II, gremlins were the little imaginary creatures that carried invisible scissors, tinkering with the machinery, cutting critical lines and causing mechanical failures and plane crashes. In real life, though, tiny […]

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Why Organic Food Is Important with Gary Hirshberg

Shiftcon is excited to announce that Gary Hirshberg, the Chairman and Founding Partner of Just Label It and the Chairman and Co-Founder of Stonyfield Farm, will be speaking at our Thursday night reception sponsored by Only Organic. Gary serves on several corporate and nonprofit boards including Applegate, Honest Tea, Peak Organic Brewing, Late July, Quantum […]

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Announcing ShiftCon 2014 Sponsor: Farm Box LA

We are excited to announce Farm Box LA as one of the main sponsors of ShiftCon 2014. Living in Los Angeles with hectic work and family schedules, not everyone has the time to visit the farmer’s market for their fresh and seasonal produce selections. Farm Box LA was created to help give even the busiest […]

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Announcing ShiftCon Sponsor Dr. Bronner’s

We are proud to announce another sponsor for Shiftcon 2014, Dr. Bronner’s.       Dr. Bronner’s is a 5th generation family owned business that makes socially and environmentally responsible products of the highest quality and dedicates profits to helping make a better world. “All-One!” Their personal care products and oils are fair trade and organic.These […]

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