What are top internet law issues?
Internet Business & eCommerce
When companies conduct business via the Internet or online, they are often unaware that they become subject to a wide variety of federal and state laws. Compounding this problem is the fact that many jurisdictions may have different regulations or laws. We help companies avoid common legal mistakes and limit their legal liability by creating legal solutions specifically tailored for the company. We do this by analyzing the company’s online presence and auditing their internal procedures in order to ensure compliance with applicable law. We also counsel them on how to implement cost-efficient strategies that are targeted at protecting their brand while simultaneously growing their online influence. Companies are often unaware of how vulnerable intellectual property can be, we remedy this by advising clients on how to protect their intellectual property online without sacrificing a strong web presence. If a business participates in online transactions, we can draft applicable payment and delivery terms, indemnity clauses, warranties, or terms of service/privacy policies tailor-made for their needs.
Domain Name Acquisition
Domain names have become a necessity in today’s day and age. Unfortunately, acquiring a domain name can be confusing, difficult, and time-consuming. We can help. Once a client decides upon a specific domain name, we can assist at all stages of acquisition. Whether they are interested in a new registration or a domain transfer, we can help by securing the specific domain names that are relevant to the brand. After acquisition, we also advise clients on how to properly maintain the domain and how to protect the domain from adverse parties that may seek to trade off the goodwill associated with the brand. If any legal problems should arise in relation to the domain, we can also assist in the defense, retrieval, or in the filing of domain-related complaints.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) Compliance
Due to the proliferation of the Internet, social media platforms, and hosting websites, online service providers have often become unwitting hosts to materials that may potentially infringe on the copyright of another. Likewise, original content creators have also increasingly found themselves to be targets of unjustified DMCA takedown requests. Whether the client is a website operator or an artist, we can help enforce or defend their legal rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. We have extensive experience in assisting copyright owners and online service providers alike in litigating or defending against claims of copyright infringement. If the client wants to avoid litigation altogether, we advise them on how to comply with the legal requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and associated statutes. Moreover, we can draft internal procedures and practices for the company or website operator to follow, helping them to avoid any future claims of liability or infringement when possible.
Social Media Law
In order to avoid social media legal issues, companies can benefit from instituting simple branding or social media guidelines. We educate employees and marketing divisions on how to avoid common social media pitfalls and explain what constitutes acceptable social media practices. Companies often fail to recognize that social media protocols can be implemented in other areas such as employment contracts or non-disclosure agreements. To determine what best fits a client’s needs, we review internal company practices and evaluate their social media goals. We then advise clients on a social media strategy that makes sense in relation to their objectives and budget. Whether the best course of action is to implement internal guidelines or draft outwardly-facing agreements, we can assist clients in properly maintaining an online presence while limiting legal liability. We also teach clients how to curb unauthorized third-party use and advise them on when to seek legal recourse if necessary.
Also known as Terms and Conditions agreements or Terms of Service agreements, these types of website agreements govern a website user’s access to a particular website. In light of ever-changing federal law, these agreements must be updated often to maintain compliance with the law as well as to keep pace with new and emerging technology. When deployed properly, these agreements may limit legal liability by providing specific notice and disclosures to users, prohibiting unlawful use, and placing limitations on liabilities or remedies. Well-drafted agreements will be adapted to address all of a company’s present as well as future needs. To ensure that we address all of a company’s concerns, we analyze and audit the company’s internal procedures as it relates to their website and evaluate how they currently use their website. We then advise the client on how to optimize their website’s usage and teach them how to leverage their intellectual property assets via the Internet.
Electronic commerce, also known as eCommerce or e-commerce, is a broad term used to describe any type of business or commercial transaction that involves the transfer of information, products, or services across computer networks, most commonly the Internet. eCommerce draws on a vast variety of technologies such as mobile payments, electronic funds transfer, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange, and network protocols to operate. As such, legal problems encountered by companies that participate in eCommerce can touch on multiple facets of differing law (e.g., secure transactions, bankruptcy, federal communications law, etc.). With our experience in intellectual property, business, and corporate law, we can assist clients with limiting their legal liability. We evaluate their online presence and then draft agreements that address the wide gamut of legal issued raised by eCommerce. Companies often fail to understand that eCommerce agreements will need consistent updating due to the onslaught of new technology introduced each year. We can assist by implementing annual evaluations that will determine which agreements need refreshing and what protocols may be out-of-date.
Online Sweepstakes & Games
Online sweepstakes and games have become increasingly popular thanks to the widespread use of social media. Companies, however, often overlook the need to include proper documentation or guidelines as is required by state or federal laws. Moreover, today’s new technology often allows for web users to submit cloned entries or otherwise circumvent online rules. Likewise, the collection of personal information for these online sweepstakes and games may trigger a variety of entirely different legal issues, often unbeknownst to the host company. We can help companies avoid these pitfalls. We start by evaluating the associated promotional materials and online rules to ensure that there are no violations of federal regulations, such as the Children Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), or similar privacy laws. Next, we analyze the entire framework of the contest or sweepstakes to ensure overall compliance with both state and federal law as it applies to the client. Lastly, we can draft overall guidelines as a reference for use with any future promotions.
Domain theft, also known as domain hijacking, is the practice of changing a domain name’s registration without the permission of the domain’s original registrant. While many may assume that domain hijacking is accomplished through nefarious methods, domain hijackers most commonly acquire a domain owner’s personal information in order to persuade the domain registrar to transfer the domain to the hijacker. Because there are no specific international or federal laws that explicitly criminalize domain theft, recovering hijacked domains can often be difficult and time-consuming. We help clients endure the process by undertaking the process for them or by advising them on what precautions to undertake in order to avoid the theft of the domain in the first place. If the domain has already been hijacked, we can assist by attempting to retrieve the domain through domain-related legal procedures or by pursuing equitable legal recourse.
Impersonation and Username Squatting
Impersonation and username squatting has increasingly become a common problem for companies today. As companies strive to maintain an online presence, they often become vulnerable to unwanted online behavior like impersonation and username squatting. Impersonation generally refers to the improper use of a username on social media platforms with the intent to mislead others into believing that the account belongs to another (e.g., user registers an account under a celebrity name and proceeds to post updates as if they were that celebrity). In contrast, username squatting typically involves the preemptive registration of a specific username or account, with no genuine intention to use that account, followed by attempts to sell the username back to the affected/named party at an inflated price. Because there are no uniform legal statutes that address this issue, social media platforms are free to respond to these problems however they want. As such, navigating these obstacles can often be confusing and time-consuming for companies that need to retrieve specific accounts or usernames in a timely manner. Our experience allows us to retrieve these accounts and stop improper usage quickly and efficiently. We have experience coordinating with the popular social media platforms in takedown requests or retrieval of user accounts. We understand how much time and effort goes into building a brand. We can help protect that brand by implementing procedures to deter unwanted third-party behavior or through litigation as necessary.
While the above identifies a number of ecommerce and internet law issues affecting website and online business operators, an in-depth analysis may be required. For more information, you may want to contact an internet law attorney.
Internet Law and E-Commerce Legal Services
Our team of lawyers and other professionals advise clients regarding internet law and e-commerce legal issues on a broad range of topics, including:
See our Legal FAQs page for the answers to more intellectual property law questions.