FTC Disclosure: Fuck Off

Federal Trade CommissionYou may have noticed that last week we started adding a little tagline to the end of our posts:

FTC Disclosure: Glorious Noise didn’t receive a damn thing from any artist, label, or publicist for writing this.

If you haven’t heard about it, a new rule went into effect on December 1, 2009 stating that bloggers are now required to disclose endorsements from advertisers. A lot of people are interpreting this to mean that if someone who writes for an online zine (like Glorious Noise, for example) receives a review copy of a product (like an album, for example), they must disclose that when reviewing said product. This is much more strict than how the FTC treats newspapers or print magazines, all of which regularly receive free promotional copies of products. It’s expected. And it’s immaterial. It’s how this whole deal works.

We at Glorious Noise have never been paid to write about anything. But we often get promo copies of albums (physical and downloadable), and we occasionally get put on the guestlist for concerts. It’s true. Are you shocked? Have we violated your trust? Hope not. Because we are all committed to not let freebies influence our opinions.

Here’s what the FTC says:

The Commission does not believe that all uses of new consumer-generated media to discuss product attributes or consumer experiences should be deemed “endorsements” within the meaning of the Guides. Rather, in analyzing statements made via these new media, the fundamental question is whether, viewed objectively, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered “sponsored” by the advertiser and therefore an “advertising message.” In other words, in disseminating positive statements about a product or service, is the speaker: (1) acting solely independently, in which case there is no endorsement, or (2) acting on behalf of the advertiser or its agent, such that the speaker’s statement is an “endorsement” that is part of an overall marketing campaign?

Glorious Noise has never endorsed anything other than Barack Obama in 2007. On occasion, we’ve strongly recommended albums and encouraged you to support the artists and purchase the music, but that’s our job. It’s what we do. And it’s always because we really love the music, never because we’re afraid our supply of unsolicited promo discs will dry up if we’re not nice.

When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed.

So we hereby publicly declare that while we sometimes receive promo copies of albums and guestlist entry to concerts, the receipt of these items for review purposes does not affect our analysis, and the value of these freebies is not high enough to make their receipt material. Therefore, we’re no longer appending the disclosure to our articles.

If, however, an advertiser wants to give us a big huge present (like a car or an all-inclusive vacation somewhere warm) to say nice things about their shit, we will be sure to take it and—in that unlikely scenario—we’ll disclose that fact to you, our readers.

6 thoughts on “FTC Disclosure: Fuck Off”

  1. that’s ridiculous.

    especially when you look at what folks like glenn beck gets away with on his show by purporting the decline and collapse of the nation’s currency system and telling his loyal viewers to heavily flock to gold as an investment strategy to protect themselves from the collapse of our economic system all the while schilling for gold by both having paid advertisers sponsoring the media time and actually being a paid spokesman for goldmine international.

    now, that’s the sad state of media in this world.

    media matters links to beck’s ties to gold.


  2. Please remember if you take

    A gift item for review

    You should always write so no

    One has any doubt about your

    Loyalty for or against

    Anothers work.

    Should you do so remember that

    Under these sorts of rules,

    Critics, including gov’t

    Kleptocrats, will tend to

    Sully your reputation.

  3. Who are “a lot of people”, and what has the FTC actually said (if anything) about the issue of promo copies? Is this one of those internet-people-running-around-like-chickens-with-their-heads-cut-off, or does someone actually think the FTC will pursue record (or book) reviewers who don’t disclose?

    I am wary of “a lot of people”.

  4. Yes, “a lot of people” = “internet-people-running-around-like-chickens.” I think everyone with any sense fully recognizes that this is unenforceable.

    Nevertheless, because of the general blogosphere chatter, I thought it might be a good idea to issue a statement on where GLONO stands on the matter. Feel free to take it with a grain of salt, or with a tongue in cheek, or whatever self-importance deflating cliche you’d like to apply.

    But no, we’re not really worried. Especially when this FTC lady is so nice and smiley when telling us we need to disclose the relationship if we “receive a steady stream of products from a company.”

  5. She seems so down-to-earth, and you said “fuck off”! So shocking. That said, I wonder how long it’ll take someone to dub a different message over that video and put it up on YouTube? Someone should host a contest.

    Meanwhile, here’s a different question: if they think they can take after bloggers, what about those first time Glono posters who say things like “OMG have you checked out the new ____ CD!? It rocked my world!!!” without disclosing any relationships? I’d get behind the FTC on that one.

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