October 7, 2009
Follow up to story on FTC regulation of blogs - one commentator worries about impact on publishing industry
Yesterday we blogged about the FTC's plan to regulate bloggers by requiring them to disclose the receipt of cash, freebies or in-kind gifts in exchange for extolling the virtues of the products they review. Now a senior publicist for the Duke University Press worries about the impact of the new regs on the publishing industry's practice of sending out free review copies in hope of a receiving favorable write-ups by bloggers. According to the Chronicle of Higher Ed:
The FTC guidelines now say that '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.' If they don't, they risk substantial fines. The worry among publishers and reviewers is that 'in-kind payment' could include review copies of books.
'We send these books with the hope of a positive review, but with no agreement or contract with the recipient, Ms. Sell [the Duke U. Press rep.] wrote in an open letter to the FTC posted on the Duke press's blog. 'They are free to give the book a negative review, or to toss it in the trash. It's just a way to get the books into the hands of people who might write about them.'
It seems to me that the scenario posited by Ms. Sell is not within the spirit of the new regs but, hey, it's always better to be safe than sorry meaning that if you're endorsing a book you received for free from the publisher, disclose that fact unless and until the FTC provides further guidance.
October 7, 2009 | Permalink