The proposed business license might deter bloggers from publishing their voices for fear of wasting money.
One of my closest friends decided to start a fashion blog to detail the latest styles and designer showcases. He aspires to write about his passion in hopes that he will form a fan base, become a notable blogger and maybe even make blogging a profession. Until then, he writes for the sake of writing.
This story is a familiar one, since aspiring journalists, as well as everyday people, blog. Philadelphia has become a market for online blogging, however, the city has recently proposed a business license to bloggers and their corresponding websites.
“Anything that is a business requires a license,” said David Post, a professor at the Beasley School of Law. “And blogging becomes a business when income or revenue is being made.”
The city government’s plans to regulate and enforce this business license are still up in the air. Bloggers would be required to purchase a business license for either $50 a year or $300 for a lifetime.
According to a New York Daily News article, the city is looking at bloggers who reported income from their blogs to the IRS.
Philebrity.com, for example, is a well-known entertainment blog that focuses on celebrities in Philadelphia. Philebrity Editor Joey Sweeney told the Daily News that he already purchased the business license because of the profit the site makes on advertisement sales.
The problem with this business license is that the majority of blogs allow individuals to express their thoughts or interest. Widespread platforms, such as Blogspot, Blogger and WordPress, have made it easier for nearly anyone to create a blog.
PhillyFuture.org is a blog that shares links to other blogs written by Philadelphia residents. The topics range from organic plant care to local weather.
If they’re lucky, bloggers may make $50 a year, however, the city government believes they too should purchase this business license.
The presentation of the business license the city has offered is unrealistic. The popularity of blogging has reached new heights as it allows everyday people to become journalists and write about any topic. Keeping track of the growing number of bloggers seems nearly impossible.
Post said there is something “socially valuable” that can be found in blogging.
It would be best not to discourage or tax anything tied to the free speech granted to U.S. citizens by the First Amendment. But amateur blogs are a means for free speech.
By requiring a business license, the future of blogging seems dark.
“I don’t think a fee would fix blogging, but maybe it would shine a light on some people who shouldn’t be there,” wrote Lisa Barone in “Why Bloggers Should Put Up, Shut Up and Pay Their Tax,” an article on OutspokenMedia.com.
Barone said the accessibility to blogs “just highlighted a large segment of the population that shouldn’t have been publishing in the first place. Because they couldn’t write. Or because they had nothing interesting to say.”
Barone wrote that she hopes by Philadelphia regulating blogging as a business, writers of thousands of blogs will exude a level of professionalism online.
While the popularity of blogs continues to grow, some fear that anyone can do it. Barone clearly argues this, but what she fails to realize is that there is something novel about blogging and the opportunity it gives many to share their ideas and opinions. Even with the most specific topics or the smallest audiences, blogs offer something to society, and that is writing for the sake of writing.
Samantha Byles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.