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FTC wants book reviewers to return books -- while actual corporate ethics abuses remain ignored:

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villager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-07-09 02:28 PM
Original message
FTC wants book reviewers to return books -- while actual corporate ethics abuses remain ignored:

TC Blogger Rules Carry $11K Fines

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."

http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/lit_crit/ftc_blogg...
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Stephanie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-07-09 02:30 PM
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1. That's insane.
Every book reviewer in NYC makes pocket money selling review copies to the Strand. Why penalize bloggers?
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villager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-07-09 02:40 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. 'cause individuals are easier to penalize than corporations?
Maybe I don't need the question mark at the end of that sentence...
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-07-09 02:57 PM
Response to Original message
3. When I was a software reviewer for one of the top two
Edited on Wed Oct-07-09 02:59 PM by MineralMan
PC magazines, I got literally hundreds of copies of software programs, most of which were unsolicited. If I reviewed them, I reviewed them. If I didn't, they went in the big dumpster out in front of the building where I had my office. My wife was in the same business, working for the other magazine, and also got hundreds of packages. There was a time when the poor UPS guy was carrying that crap up the stairs every day.

Stuff that got reviewed was retained for a year or until the next version came out. It didn't get used, but you could get questions or something, so you had to hang on to the stuff you wrote about. Then, when the next version came out, the old one went in the dumpster.

It would have been against my contract to have sold this stuff, aside from being unethical. So it all got tossed.

I talked with a number of other reviewers on a regular basis, and all but a couple followed the same process. The few that didn't donated the extra junk to a local users' group, where it got given away in drawings or something.

It's an error to say that most reviewers profit in some way from review copies. Some do, no doubt, but it's unethical to do so.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-07-09 03:09 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. ridiculous. say they got 100 free books/yr & sold them for $30 each,
$3000, big whoop.

meanwhile, banksters rip off millions & billions.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-07-09 03:13 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Well, of course it's ridiculous...like the IRS bugging waitpersons
about tips. They ignore the big stuff and harass the little guys.
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Phoebe Loosinhouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-07-09 03:06 PM
Response to Original message
4. That's really dumb
I hate it when people are just petty for the sake of being petty. I agree that people shouldn't sell their freebies, but aside from that, retaining complimentary copies of books is next to nothing as an issue. Should restaurant reviewers be allowed to digest the food that is comped by their employers? Should they retire discreetly to vomitorium after the meal so they don't retain the calories?

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anigbrowl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-07-09 03:18 PM
Response to Original message
7. ...or declare it, which is easy
'XYZ publishing company gave us a copy of the book for the purposes of this review.' or indeed 'Bookblog's policy is allow reviewers to keep the review copies sent by publishers.' There, that wasn't so hard.
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Raineyb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-07-09 03:20 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. In which case you'd probably have to declare the books as
income on your tax return.
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