Is Your Website Legal?

By Kelly Bagla, Esq.

It doesn’t take much these days to start your own website. In just a few simple steps and without ever learning a single word of code you can use intuitive website builders to help you set up your online business within minutes. But creating a site comes with legal rules and regulations. Do you know your rights under copyright law? How about your responsibilities towards preventing plagiarism? And do you know all of the vast website legal requirements under information security and cyber law?

BASIC RULES RELATED TO WEBSITE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS

If you get caught breaking any of the rules around web ownership, you could be in big legal trouble that could cost you thousands. Make sure you follow the website requirements below to minimize your risk:

  1. MINIMIZE RISK OF USER GENERATED CONTENT
    In today’s digital world, user generated content is king. It can add new levels of engagement, credibility and authority to almost any website. While you may decide to take advantage of it, hosting content that is created by others also opens you up to a myriad of risks. For example, who owns the content once it’s published on your site? What if the content isn’t original? To reduce the risk as a website owner of hosting user generated content develop clear and simple terms of use policy that tells others you forbid the use of any plagiarized content.
  2. OBTAIN NECESSARY LICENSES
    It’s a known fact that images and graphics convert more traffic than text alone. Depending on the type of image you are displaying on your website, you may be required to apply for certain licenses. If you’re using photos and images that do not belong to you, you may need to pay for the use of a license from the supplier. Be sure to read the fine print as to how you can and cannot use the image.
  3. DISPLAY TERMS AND CONDITIONS
    Depending on the nature of your site, you may want to include a listing of the terms and conditions of using your website. The specifics of the terms and conditions you’ll want will depend entirely on the specifics of your site. For example, if you sell goods, you may want to list the terms of the sales including how you handle returns and refunds. If you provide advice, you’ll want to specify that such advice is general and for informational purposes only.
  4. DISPLAY PRIVACY POLICY
    A privacy policy is one of the most important legal requirements for any website. This policy clearly defines how you are going to use your visitor’s data. Not only is it a significant part of legal requirements but a privacy policy limits your liability if any of the private information you have collected on your visitors is ever hacked by a third party.
  5. DISPLAY DISCLAIMER
    Sometimes problems occur because websites may have caused harm to someone. As the owner, it is your responsibility to pay for such damages. However, if you have a disclaimer placed on your website stating you are not responsible for omissions or errors or the way people use your website, this could limit your liability.
  6. DISPLAY COPYRIGHT NOTICE
    Your copyright notice makes your visitors aware that your content is legally yours and they do not have the right to use it without your permission. A copyright notice, though not required, is a good way to deter visitors from using, stealing or borrowing your materials from your site.

You have already put in the hard work to get your business up and running, don’t let a simple and most often costly legal mistake cause you to lose it all.

For more information on how to legally protect your business please pick up a copy of my bestselling book: ‘Go Legal Yourself’ on Amazon or visit my website at www.golegalyourself.com

Disclaimer: This information is made available by Bagla Law Firm, APC for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, and not to provide specific legal advice. This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.


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