Today the Federal Trade Commission revised their “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials” (click here to download), urging bloggers who review products, from a book to a video game system, to disclose if they received the product for free when giving an endorsement. According to the Washington Post, breaking these new guidelines could generate up to $11,000 in fines.
Literary blogger Edward Champion interviewed Bureau of Consumer Protection representative Richard Cleland about the guidelines to clarify for blogging reviewers. Cleland noted that newspaper book reviewers are exempt, because “the newspaper receives the book and it allows the reviewer to review it, it’s still the property of the newspaper.” These new guidelines will be put into effect on December 1, 2009.
Here’s a choice excerpt: “In the case of books, Cleland saw no problem with a blogger receiving a book, provided there wasn’t a linked advertisement to buy the book and that the blogger did not keep the book after he had finished reviewing it. Keeping the book would, from Cleland’s standpoint, count as ‘compensation’ and require a disclosure.”