Hopkins, MN asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Minnesota

Q: Laws that protect intellectual material.

I am a Realtor out of MN and owner of twincitiessold.com, my real estate blog and advice website. The website 'Help a Reporter Out' (HARO) allows journalists to ask questions to experts about a variety of topics. One of the only reasons people answer these inquiries is to get PR exposure and build website credibility through backlinks. Every time I answer an inquiry I state, "This is entirely exclusive content and as long as you quote me once and put a link to my aforementioned website, I give you permission to use the remainder of this information in your article as your own (even word for word if you would like). Let me know if you would like any further information and/or clarification." Is it legal for someone to use my material and quotes me, but doesn't give me the backlink that I asked for? Following my discovery of these sites not linking to me, I asked them again to include a link and have yet to hear a response (some of these are major publications).

1 Lawyer Answer
Will Blackton
Will Blackton
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Raleigh, NC

A: Generally, websites contain their own terms of service, determining the rights you grant to the website when you post content. HARO is no different, according to their terms of service (https://www.helpareporter.com/terms-of-service/?nav_location=footer):

5.4. You hereby grant HARO a worldwide, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully-paid license to use, copy, perform, or revise any User Content, including but not limited to any press query to be distributed via the Service.

This means HARO can do whatever it wants with your content, without regard to any additional restrictions you seek to impose upon its use. This includes editing it and reposting it, with or without backlinks. To my recollection, this is similar to the terms imposed upon Attorneys using this JUSTIA Ask a Lawyer Board. I can request that someone who wants to repost this answer should link to my blog at http://www.blacktonlaw.com/blog/ (shameless plug), but they're under no obligation to do so.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.