Today the FTC published their guidelines pertaining to testimonial advertisements, bloggers and celebrity endorsements. As of December 1, 2009 it is required that bloggers fully disclose any types of payment, which includes products received for free for review purposes. Violation of this could result in paying a fine amounting up to $11,000.
When I first got home from work and saw all the panic on Twitter and in blog posts, I started feeling a bit panicky myself. Eleven thousand dollars is quite a hefty punishment for not mentioning you reviewed a book you received that's worth $7.99. Then I read what Cheryl of Cheryl's Mewsings had to say about it and felt quite a bit better. It does sound as though book bloggers are not the main concern and are not likely to be closely monitored (I would hope not).
I have the same feelings on this as many of my fellow bloggers have stated in their own posts on it. Disclosing what I receive does not bother me, but being forced to does, especially with such a high penalty for failure to meet this requirement. Plus it seems like a rather difficult thing to regulate. How do they know I did or didn't buy a book myself if it's one that I reviewed close to the time of or after the release date?
I've decided not to get too worked up about it, but from now on, I will be stating exactly where I got any book I am reviewing - whether or not I bought it myself, received it from the publisher or author, won it in a contest, was forced to read it at gunpoint against my will, etc. It will probably be somewhere at the end of my review - I'll have to decide where it fits best next time I write one (hoping to get to that review of Doubleblind soon).
Although I have never been paid to write a review, I do occasionally receive review copies (and on one occasion a bookshelf and a couple of times books for giveaways). Most of the books I have reviewed here are ones I have bought myself, but some of them have been books publishers or authors have sent me. Lately I've been reviewing more of these books as I have begun receiving more of them.
I never, ever promise to write a positive review in return for a book, nor do I feel obligated to write one just because I received a free copy in the mail, just like the vast majority of book bloggers. Most of us blog because we love reading and talking about the books we read - sure, the free books are a nice bonus, but most of us
Any further thoughts/rants on the new FTC guidelines?