Privacy policies, disclosures, and release forms for blogging and podcasting

How to easily make a privacy policy and what it should contain, how to get releases for your cohosts and guests, necessary disclaimers and disclosures, and how to avoid defamation. Legal answers with Gordon Firemark.

Do we need our own privacy policies?

Tim Arthur from Tech Monks Podcast asked whether we need privacy policies.

If you gather any information about your visitors, you need to express how that information will be used. This is especially important when it’s personally identifiable information: name, email address, phone number, etc.

This can be as simple as “We gather ____ and use for in-house analytical policies.” But this statement must be expounded.

You need a specific page on your site that explains what information you collect and how you’ll use it.

Also consider a Terms of Use page to explain what you’re allowed to do with the content visitors leave on your site (like comments). This can cover you for if you ever plan to repurpose your content into a sellable product.

We should all be reading privacy policies and terms of use, too.

What your privacy policy should cover

  • Who, what, when, where, how, and why about the information that you gather.
  • How you will use the information (including future flexibility).
  • Whether you’ll notify of changes.
  • What domains your policy covers.
  • That your policy does not apply to offsite links, like affiliates.

Tools for creating a privacy policy

Zak Wallace from Wallys Modcast shared a couple free tools.

FreePrivacyPolicy.com and PrivacyPolicyOnline.com are both free sites for generating a privacy policy. These sites will “spam” you afterward (emailing you a lot, but you’re getting something for free), but they do make acceptable policies that you can use.

Free services are a great place to start, but read them and customize as necessary. Then comply with it because it’s a contract with your audience.

You can even model your privacy policy after someone else’s.

Where should your privacy policy be?

Link your privacy policy page (not a post) from the footer of every page.

Read more about privacy policies from Gordon Firemark.

Make sure you abide by your promise to notify viewers if you change your policies, unless you don’t promise to notify.

Write in plain English! Say what you mean, and say it simply and concisely.

If you change a policy, make a summary so people won’t have to read the entire document.

If you run several websites, but they share the same privacy policy, it would be acceptable to have a central page and link to it from all of your separate sites. Make sure this policy reflects its jurisdiction over your separate domains.

This privacy policy applies to all Noodle.mx Network sites: TheAudacitytoPodcast.com, ONCEpodcast.com, …

Releases for cohosts and guests

Andrew McGivern from The Bunker Project asked about how to get releases from cohosts, guests, and especially random participants (like walk-ins, live call-ins, etc.).

Always try to get something in writing from anyone who appears on your show. If writing isn’t possible, a recorded confirmation can be acceptable.

For random walk-ins, have a sign that notifies visitors that they are about to be recorded. Don’t assume that they’ll know what you’re doing. A notice is sufficient only if they have the option of walking away and their consent is entirely voluntary.

Keep your language general. If you say “distributed as a podcast” but later sell CDs, you would have to get permission again.

Recorded voicemails or email forms should notify senders that their message may be used as part of your show. This leaves their consent voluntary.

Disclaimers and disclosures

Keeper Dan from Miskatonic University Podcast asked about disclaimers/disclosures at the end of podcast.

The Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game is property of Chaosium, Inc.
The written works of H.P. Lovecraft are held in the United States public domain.
All other works mentioned in this podcast are the property of their respective owners.
Original content of this show is copyright of the Miskatonic University Podcast under a Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

This could also include that the views expressed in the podcast do not necessarily reflect those of Miskatonic University, or that those of your guests do not reflect your own views.

Also include disclosures when you’ll get paid from affiliate links, a review, or have received something for free.

Include any required attributions for music or other copyrighted content that you’ve used.

cmp.ly makes easy disclosures that can be a great starting point for your site.

Make sure you include statements to protect yourself and your audience. For example, if you have a video podcast and use machinery, give safety cautions.

Risk of defamation

  • Liable is written defamation
  • Slander is spoken defamation.

A false statement about a person that injures their reputation and isn’t protected under free speech.

Keep in mind common-sense privacy issues, like health concerns.

  • Comedy: saying something funny about something
  • Parody: making fun of something

Parody of copyrighted material is allowed under fair use. And as long as a parody is clearly treated and presented as a parody, it is free from defamation risks.

About Gordon Firemark

Still upcoming in our law series

  • Podcasting as a business with tax benefits

Podcasting poll: Do you have a privacy policy?

[poll id=”7″]

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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.

4 comments on Why you need your own privacy policies, disclosures, and releases for blogging or podcasting – TAP079

  1. Does your privacy policy really have to be 10 pages long? Isn’t three paragraphs enough?

    1. As Gordon pointed out, a short privacy policy can be enough, but it really needs to cover you completely. The free tools we shared can easily generate some great privacy policies.

      If you need something short, consider a summary paragraph with a link to your full privacy statement.

  2. Hi Daniel. Just wanted to let you know that the link to FreePrivacyPolicy.com causes Chrome to alert me that Malware is Detected on that site. Google will only allow me to connect if i manually override and authorize the connection. Do you recall if this was the case before? Maybe they changed something on their site? The other link, http://www.privacypolicyonline.com/, loads without a problem.

    Great resources as usual. 🙂

    1. Either they’re doing something bad now, or Google has just caught on.

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