Just back from a ‘staycation’ with a difference – almost two weeks of flu-wrestling; I can certify that the swine flu kicks like a mule.

Odd things stick when you’re fevered, and afterwards you’re not even sure you’ve read them. For example, there was an article about an American law banning the filming of ladies stomping on mice; apparently the law isn’t panning out as expected. Then there was a report on another planned legal intervention in the States. The idea is to make bloggers report when they are being paid to write what they’re writing – eg, if you write that Acme peanuts are the biz, you should fess up that you’re also in their pay.

So far so good-ish. The ramifications are interesting. First, think of a blog about investments. If the blogger told you you should buy lots of Acme shares, but didn’t tell you that he himself owned lots of Acme shares, you’d not be too happy about the quality and independence of his advice.

The matter gets even murkier when applied to the visual arts, one of the few areas in the arts where there is widespread investment in tangible assets – ie, people buy artworks. If a blogger writes positively about a particular artist, is the reader entitled to know whether or not the blogger owns works by that artist? And what if the nature of the ‘investment’ is more tenuous – friendship, mutual assistance, etc?

Readers obviously always need to beware of the agendas of those they read. Compared to stomping on mice, it’s a minefield.