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How To Treat Blog Posts When Author Leaves Org?
12/21/2012 at 10:23 AM ET
What's the best way to treat blog posts on a company Website when the author leaves for another job? We're a financial-services nonprofit, so our bloggers put out a lot of helpful links, resources and factual information that I'd like to capture on the site.<br /><br />Human resources wants us to take down the blog posts a month after the author leaves, thinking that their face, name and voice no longer represents us.<br /><br />What do your companies or organizations do. Is there another, maybe better, way to capture this content but brand it as the organization, and not the individual?<br /><br />Appreciative of all your good thoughts.<br /><br />Steve
12/21/2012 at 11:01 AM
I'm not a copyright lawyer and what follows is NOT intended to be, nor ought you to consider it, legal advice.
As long as author is or was employed by your company—the company retains the rights to the content because the author was compensated for the creation of the material as part of their job description.
The employee was doing work for which they were being paid, work that reflected the opinion and standing of the company as a provider of professional services. The production of content by the employee as a part of their job reflects the position of the company.
The attribution rights to the content ought to therefore remain the employer's. NOT the employee's.
Although your HR people's opinion about the 30 day grace period sounds fair, I'd suggest reducing it to 24 hours, regardless of the reasons behind the departure of the staffer. Technically, as the author no longer represents the company once they've left, their "rights" to the use of the content (if they ever existed), evaporate.
I'd say that unless prior and legally bonding content use agreements (signed, witnesses, and dated by the company counsel, the author, and the CEO or the Chair of the Board) are in place, content created during employment remains the sole property of the company.
12/21/2012 at 11:05 AM
Thank you, Gary. Taking the discussion one level deeper: Acknowledging (which we do) that the organization owns the content, what would be the most effective and appropriate ways to display it on the Web site?
12/21/2012 at 11:29 AM
Is it imperative that the author be identified? One possible solution is to have the article appear on the blog, but without attribution to an individual. Or to have another employee post the blog with an introductory paragraph that acknowledges that this post was written by a company employee several months ago, but may still be useful, etc.
12/21/2012 at 12:30 PM
Good thoughts. We have attributed all blog posts to individuals, but maybe that isn't necessary. Thanks!
12/21/2012 at 12:34 PM
blogging etiquette is such that if you reproduce a piece from another blog, you give them a link back. You could do this using your own business/blog name and have a link back to your original piece that can now be stored and de-indexed via your robots.txt page.
Hope this helps!
12/21/2012 at 12:46 PM
Great suggestion -- thanks.
Peter (henna gaijin)
12/21/2012 at 3:41 PM
Much depends on how the blog is set up. If the blog is set so that it is known as the person's blog, then you could have issues. But if it is known as the company's blog, with that individual as a contributor, then not as much trouble.
Let's take the two extremes:
Richard Branson has a blog on Virgin sites called "Richard's Blog". If he were to leave, it would be very hard to do anything besides shut down that blog.
At the other end, a bike shop I am connected to (Passion Trail Bikes -
) has a web site that is basically a blog, and has multiplier people who post to it (I am the PeterD that posts). In this case, if someone leaves, that person just doesn't get any new posts, but the blog continues with posts from others. Been turnover of blog posters over the year, without any issues.
If you are closer to the latter, is it possible that someone else just starts posting to the blog and continuing where it was left off? If information about the author is posted prominently, you may want to change that to the new person or take this as a time to change the format of the blog so that the poster information is much less prominent, allowing for future transitions.
12/21/2012 at 3:45 PM
Thanks for the response, Peter.
Unfortunately, our situation is the former. The blogs are all posted to our Website, but by individuals.
I think your last point is close to the mark, but blogging is so much about "voice" it's hard to diminish that individual identification without diminishing the reason people would read, subscribe, etc.
12/21/2012 at 4:35 PM
Assuming the content is useful, can you simply change the author attribution to be a generic "Employee"?
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