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Monday, October 05, 2009

I Have Received Nothing of Value In Exchange For Providing You With This Link...

Bloggers beware.  The FTC is apparently changing the rules so that bloggers must disclose when they are being paid to promote products.  I am no FTC junkie; I'd be interested in finding out what the penalties for this would be, if people know.  Here's a clip from the FTC's announcement.  The italics are mine:

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. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

Posted by Chris Lund on October 5, 2009 at 04:25 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Fashionista and this blog both call attention to the common practice in some industries of post-review gratitude gifts.

Fashionista also makes the point that undisclosed gifts are the industry standard in the fashion print media, so blogs appear to be held to a different and higher standard by the FTC rule.

Any office pools on how long it will take for a court challenge to be brought to the Rule?

Posted by: ohwilleke | Oct 6, 2009 9:07:22 PM

Do these rules apply to product placements in television and movies? They normally show credits at the end of the show. Would a disclosure have to be on the page displayed when a post is read, or could it appear in a daily, weekly, monthly or annual disclosure? Above The Law, for example, generally thanks its advertisers once a month.

Would the disclosure have to be done on a case by case basis, or would a generalized warning that some reviews are paid endorsements (perhaps in an "about this blog" page, suffice.

Do they apply to commercials on television? Is there an implied warranty that a TV ad is paid for by someone authorized by the seller of the product pitched?

Is this a form of reverse trademark violation? In a normal trademark violation, the sin is deceptively showing an association with a company of good reputation when there is none. In this case, the sin is deceptively creating the impression that there is no association when there is one.

Should this be called the Federal sock puppet rule?

Posted by: ohwilleke | Oct 5, 2009 6:15:18 PM

Is it fair to assume "blogger" does not include someone posting a comment at a blog?

Posted by: Shag from Brookline | Oct 5, 2009 5:11:22 PM

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