Ethical Question – who owns my blog
By: Scott Andersen
So last week I posted another blog on the concept of Ethics and Architects. It was a dilemma from a reader. Monday as I checked my email I had gotten another suggestion for a topic/dilemma for architects in the field of ethics.
The ethics of architects blogging…
Blogs are interesting. Over time they develop readers and followers. That is a double edged sword you have to be aware of.
In fact they bring up a lot of questions around the edges of morality and ethics…
1. If I don’t blog very often should I have my own blog or blog on someone else’s blog?
2. Should I mention someone by name in my blog?
3. Should I mention a product or solution in my blog?
4. Who owns my blog?
Number 1 is interesting because the first time you blog you are creating both an audience and a place to share. If you don’t blog often (less than once a month) consider blogging on someone else’s blog. There is an ethical responsibility to your readers that you engender once you start. Not blogging often will in the end cost you audience.
I have a personal ethical boundary for question number 2. I don’t mention people or companies by name except for two exceptions. In my personal blog I do mention family members when I share pictures and I do mention extremely poor customer service when I review organizations. I review products and companies but it is called out as a Shameless Review – to let people know that what comes after that is my humble opinion that they can read or discard. A blog lives forever. One blog as noted above will frustrate someone if they find commonality with your voice. Mentioning someone on your blog means that will be there forever.
For number 3 I combined that above into number two. It is important to remember that anything in your published blog is conceivably available forever. I suspect personally that Charles Dickens (who used to write serial stories in newspapers) would have been a blogger. One chapter of “A Christmas Carol” at a time. My rule for products is that I have to believe in the product I post about. If I hate a product I don’t review it. It’s my rule of thumb but you get the idea.
The last question is in the end the question posted to me. Who owns my blog?
This is a tough one. If in fact you work for a company and you write you blog on company time they own your blog. If you post your blog on your company’s blog site, they own your blog. Those two are in fact the easy ones.
From there it gets really hard to determine. If the concept in your blog comes from something your company is doing, they own that IP. It may be in your head and dancing off your fingers onto the blogosphere but in the end it is property of the company you work for.
There is an interesting ethical question however that needs to be asked. If you blog while you are employed and the employer knows you blog but they do not as you leave the company ask for those blogs who owns them after you’ve left?
It is an interesting ethical question…