Acknowledging Free Merchandise
Since this is a company web site, it should be fairly clear what free merchandise I give out. I offer both free review copies and books to be used as giveaways. Obviously, I do this for the resulting publicity, and in fact, the record shows that it works.
My company’s guidelines for free review copies have always asked reviewers to state that they received a free copy of the book. Some have assumed this was because I wanted to be thanked for my generosity. Actually, I did it because I have always regarded this as common sense ethics. There is a difference between reviewing a product you received free and reviewing one you acquired at your own expense. The simple fact that so many regard these free products as evidence of generosity makes that clear.
Now the FTC has made official rules about this common sense idea, and they require disclosure. Personally, I think this is an example of how the government spends large amounts of time accomplishing the obvious, but that’s not too relevant. I’m just going to reiterate my request that all reviewers of Energion Publications products continue indicate if they have received a free copy.