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Review Copies and the FTC

Posted By Matt-M-McElroy On October 6, 2009 @ 7:33 am In Blogs | 2 Comments

The recent headline from the NYTimes reads:

Bloggers Must Disclose Payments for Reviews [1]

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday took steps to make product information and online reviews more accurate for consumers, regulating blogging for the first time and mandating that testimonials reflect typical results.

The FTC will require that writers on the Web clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products. The commission also said advertisers featuring testimonials that claim dramatic results cannot hide behind disclaimers that the results aren’t typical.

There has been several posts over the last day or so (including PW’s The Beat [2], Geek.com [3], PCWorld [4] and many more) about what this means for review copies and the folks who write reviews on blogs and other websites.

The part of the article that stood out to me says:

The FTC’s proposal made many bloggers anxious. They said the scrutiny would make them nervous about posting even innocent comments.

To placate such fears, Cleland noted that the FTC’s enforcement priorities make it more likely an advertiser would be targeted for disclosure or testimonial violations than a blogger. The exception would be a blogger who runs a ”substantial” operation that violates FTC rules and already received a warning, he said.

So, really…I’m not too worried about it. Flames Rising is not what I would consider a ”substantial” operation, nor do we get fat cash for endorsements, advertising or high-dollar freebies. We _do_ get review copies of books, games and comics from a handful of publishers. We are also on the Featured Reviewer list over at DriveThruRPG.com [5]. Most of the time I think we make it pretty clear that we’re either talking about something we picked up at a convention or store because it was a product we were interested in, or we usually say in a review that we’re working with a review copy of the books (usually a pdf or arc). Everyone who writes for Flames Rising is a fan of Horror & Dark Fantasy already. We talk about what like, whether that is the latest Vampire: the Requiem supplement or the new Dresden Files book…we’re fans of the genre.

Just to be in the clear, we’ll probably be posting details on free review copies from now on here at Flames Rising. Just a line or two in the review noting that the review is based on a comp copy of the book or game, nothing major. So, we’ll still be writing lots of reviews and posting several very cool previews of upcoming books. Thanks for your continued support of the Flames Rising website.


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URL to article: http://www.flamesrising.com/ftc-review-copies/

URLs in this post:

[1] Bloggers Must Disclose Payments for Reviews: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/10/05/technology/AP-US-TEC-Bloggers-FTC.html?_r=4&src=tptw

[2] PW’s The Beat: http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/2009/10/06/blogosphere-vs-the-ftc

[3] Geek.com: http://www.geek.com/articles/news/ftc-requires-bloggers-to-fully-disclose-sponsorship-deals-2009106

[4] PCWorld: http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/173127/ftc_bloggers_must_disclose_payments_for_endorsements.html

[5] DriveThruRPG.com: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/index.php?affiliate_id=22713

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