After more than our share of public blood lettings in the blogsphere as a result of employee bloggers running afoul of their corporate parents, it is not surprising that companies are starting to issue blogging guidelines. The issue is a real one but until recently it was a small and isolated problem. But if ever there was an indication of the increasing prevalence of corporate blogging, it can be found in the email alert I just received from the Howard Rice law firm. The email alert was entitled "Corporate Blogging: Seize the Opportunity, but Control the Risks" and it laid out both the legal risks raised by corporate bloggers and some "practical guidance" for dealing with those risks. In fact, when I spoke with the Howard Rice lawyers who issued the alert, they said that they were rapidly developing an "expertise" in the law surrounding blogging and would be issuing additional blogging alerts in the future.
Blogging is indeed mainstream when legal practices emerge around it -- which is not to say that the advice Howard Rice gives isn't well taken. As a former lawyer, I couldn't help but spend a bunch of time thinking about the legal implications of blogging on my professional life before we started VentureBlog. As a result, I ended up drafting one of the first blog Terms of Service out there (who knows, maybe it was the first -- I couldn't manage to find anyone else's to plagiarize at the time I was drafting VentureBlog's). More importantly, we also spent a chunk of time talking with the whole August Capital partnership about blogging and how it might implicate the partnership either directly or indirectly. While we obviously concluded that the benefits of blogging greatly outweighed the risks, it was extremely helpful to go into it with eyes wide open and clearly set expectations within my "company."