Monday, November 02, 2009

OFFICIAL DISCLOSURE - (Thanks, FTC!)

On September 21, 2009, I typed a blog entry that dropped a hint that I would be interested in reviewing new Christmas releases BEFORE December 25th. Indeed, I received four new Christmas releases that were sent to my P.O. Box by members of the music industry.

Then the other shoe dropped.

On October 5, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission issued new guidelines regarding the blogging community: "The long standing principle that "material connections" (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed."

Failure to do so could mean fines up to $11,000 per post.

I quickly called my lawyer (a genial fellow whose name I can't use - otherwise he'd sue me) and asked what I needed to do. He informed me these new FTC guidelines take effect December 1st of this year. All posts after this date will need a quick disclosure clause - no statement is needed on any prior posts.

After driving home from his office (a shabby place), I began to think about all of the CDs I've received and reviewed here. Only one came to mind that caused an ethical dilemma.

Back in 2006 - the first year of this blog - I received at my P.O. Box a package from an unknown person. Inside was a Christmas CD (with some tantalizing artwork), a cover letter, and a business card. Paper-clipped to the business card was a neatly folded $10 bill.

I placed the entire package into a US Mail priority mail envelope and sent it back to the return address listed with a note: "Sorry, I do not review anything by or with a dead president".


OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF FACTS:

1.) I swear or affirm all of the following statements are true.

2.) Many of the albums or CDs I have reviewed at this blog since January of 2006 have been my own purchases, gifts given to me by friends or family, or have been downloaded online.

3.) In each blog entry since January of 2006, I have always disclosed the origins from which the albums or CDs came from - usually in the first sentence or paragraph of the entry.

4.) There have been 14 specific past blog entries in which I have received a promotional CD - either from the artist themselves or from a member of the music industry who had the authority to send the CD to me.

In each of these cases, I received a FREE promo CD and occasionally various press materials (cover letters, business cards) to review the CD. Nothing else additional was included in any of this packages.

5.) I have added a new label entitled "Promotional CD" below - you may click on this link to read all of the entries in which I have received nothing other than a free CD in exchange for a review. All future posts in which I receive a CD via the P.O. Box will have this label as well.


Having said all that, the four new reviews will be posted starting tomorrow.


Capt

1 comment:

PDMan said...

We're just starting to deal with this over in the radio web world where the on-air announcers have blogs on our websites AND are paid endorsers for various products.

As the online "police", my office has made it very clear to the talent that they must disclose (just as they've ALWAYS had to do on the air) anything they promote - even in passing - on their radio blogs.

Unfortunately, it's going to be hard to keep an eagle eye on everybody and I have to wonder if this is even enforceable on a large scale.