Okay, so you’re thinking about putting together a website with all the bells and whistles. STOP! Before you hire someone to develop that website, make sure you know everything you need to know about website law. Website law is not as simple as throwing up a web page and forgetting about it. There are a number of legal issues to be aware of if you are advertising or selling on your website, if you are creating content or hire someone to create content for you, if you upload videos, if you target children, if you run contests and sweepstakes on your site, or if you perform any number of actions on your website. Before you get started, know the law!
Reasons you may want to hire a competent attorney BEFORE you build your website.
There are a lot of things you must take into consideration before you put together a website. A competent business lawyer with a strong focus on intellectual property law can help you understand the law and navigate the ever-changing legal landscape.
Here are a couple of things to take into account:
- FTC Regulations: With the intensification of eCommerce the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has implemented new regulations for conducting business online. Some of the regulations include recent changes to endorsements and testimonials in advertising, the CAN-SPAM act which regulates email marketing, and other codes for website law that regulate eCommerce compliance.
- Copyright Law: The Internet makes copying intellectual property very easy, so it is important to protect the content that you place on your website. As a website owner and distributor of content, you should make sure you are in compliance with US Copyright Law. If you have employees and website designers, they should be in compliance as well. A competent intellectual property attorney can advise you on how to avoid stepping into the copyright infringement landmine.
- Trademark Law: When you establish your business as a brand online it is important to protect your brand with trademark registration. A registered trademark establishes your credibility and protects your brand name. When consumers see the trademark symbol next to your brand name they will instantly associate that trademark with you, your products, and/or your services. A knowledgeable trademark attorney can offer guidance on how to select a trademark that can be protected, how to protect such a mark, and advice on avoiding trademark infringement.
- Web Hosting Agreements: A lot of web hosting companies place excessive fine print in their agreements and if you are unfamiliar with some of the tactics that are used such as bandwidth usage, you could end up inadvertently agreeing to something that will cost you in the future. A website law attorney can review the contract with you before you sign on the dotted line.
- Domain Names: Selecting and protecting your domain name is especially important since it identifies your brand name and your business. As the Internet continues to grow, there are a lot of legal issues that can transpire if you are not aware of regulations relating to the use of domains. A competent internet attorney can advise you accordingly.
Francine D. Ward
Attorney-At-Law, Author, Speaker