My wife, who also runs the blog Bull City Beauty (shamelss plug), found out some very interesting rules associated with giveaways. As some of you know the Federal Trade Comission (FTC) basically is in charge of monitoring the blog world (among many other things).  Well yesterday I found out that not all giveaways are legal.  Here are some helpful links to get you through the meat and potatoes of the law:

To give an example (I’m reposting from Stephanie’s blog):
The Wrong Way to Do a Blog Giveaway
The above entry is a no – no on a lot of levels.  Essentially here is the breakdown for giveaways (again from Stepahnie’s blog):
  • Sweepstakes is a giveaway where winners are chosen at random.
  • Contest chooses a winner based on some merit: best photo, funniest tip, etc.
  • Lottery is a prize drawing where people pay money for a chance to win. Lotteries are even more highly regulated and brands (or bloggers) should never run a lottery without strong legal guidance.
Most of the contests I have seen in the blogging world are actually sweepstakes and that’s a big no -no.  So from now on, at least as far as my blog is concerned, all contests will be based on merit.
Here are some other items of interest:
  • Next up is monetary value of the item being given away, any item that is worth over $600 (or if the total value of the prize is worth over $600) it must be reported to the IRS.  I was planning on a huge giveaway for my 1,000,000th hit but it won’t be worth more than $600 I can guarantee that.
  • You will need to set up official rules for your contests.  Although I think these can be general and listed on a page within your blog.
  • They must list “No Purchase Necessary” and “Void where Prohibited”, you have to find out where they are not permitted.
  • Age restrictions must apply, entrants need to be older than 13 years old, but to be safe, and my younger readers aren’t going to like this, no one under 18 should be allowed to enter. Plus proof of age is necessary (not sure how to do that though).
Finally make sure you go here and read up on a summary of the policy written by a law firm.  I have to be honest, I don’t know how I’m going to be doing giveaways in the future, or how this will be presented on my blog, I just know it has to be done.  So before you host your next giveaway, please get familiar with the rules and regulations so that you don’t get in trouble for doing something that most people would find good.

9 responses »

  1. Dave H says:

    What about your international readers? Can they be entered into sweepstakes because they live elsewhere, or are they subject to the rules where the blogger who is doing the giveaway lives?

    • chemgod says:

      I’m going to be reading into this.

    • Dave, the unfortunate thing about many blog giveaways is that they don’t mention how they handle international entries.

      Promotions are treated differently in each country. For example, major US companies running sweepstakes will limit entrants to US Citizens 18 or older due to laws relating to soliciting minors as well as laws of other countries being in contraction to US laws.

      For example, Canada requires all promotions to have a skill test. That, in the US, would be a contest and not a sweepstakes which would mean it is handled differently.

      You may see bloggers not saying who can enter, but if you are outside the US just be prepared not to be the final winner if they send you an email saying you won and asking for your address because either they or the promotion company responsible for sending out the prize won’t want to mail it to you. It’s wrong, in my opinion, but it’s likely the reality.

      Hope this helps.


      (yes, I’m the Sara at Saving For Someday mentioned in this article)

  2. the sewingmachineguy says:

    Oy Vey! Really? It’s getting harder to something generous these days.

  3. Sam says:

    wow… how freakin’ lame is that… hey fed, how about you crack down on welfare scammers, tax evaders and white collar millionaire criminals who get 2 months in jail for stealing millions from normal people’s retirement funds?!? Leave us small time bloggers alone…

  4. Nico ED says:

    How about 17 instead of 18

    • Nico ED,

      In the US, there are very strict laws relating to marketing to minors and so if a promotion is targeting you have to take those laws into consideration as well. There are even more strict laws when promotions are geared toward those 13 and under.

      Kindly, Sara

  5. Brian B says:

    Exactly what Sam said….GEEZ MAN, its crazy, you would think they could work on something a little more important, NOPE, bust the guys balls giving away jersey cards, and autographs….

  6. Did you get my comment about the Jim Palmer for trade on your custom booklet page?

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