Legal Issues for Internet Marketers

18 replies
I am thinking about putting together a resource, or blog, about the various legal issues that internet marketers run into. Off the top of my head, it would need to cover copyrights and intellectual property, terms of service agreements, templates for sending things like cease and desist notices, DMCA takedown notices, etc.

I used to practice law in the U.S. but could probably get moderately up to speed on international law issues.

What legal issues have you faced? What would you think other IMers want to know more about? What kind of resource would be most valuable to the IM community?
#copyright #imers #intellectual property #internet marketing #issues #law #legal
  • Profile picture of the author Howlerckc
    Hey Charles,

    What about damages due to a plugin, software etc. that got the purchaser banned to another website or service and/or caused issues on the purchaser's website.

    It has not happened to me, however, I believe this may be a larger issue than we know!

    Curt
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    • Profile picture of the author charbrown
      Originally Posted by Howlerckc View Post

      Hey Charles,

      What about damages due to a plugin, software etc. that got the purchaser banned to another website or service and/or caused issues on the purchaser's website.
      Curt
      Good question. That is definitely one I wouldn't have thought of.

      My initial thoughts are that the plugin/software developer probably had a limitation of liability clause in the TOS when you downloaded the product.

      That means it is basically a contract between you and the developer and you basically signed your rights away. However, if the developer continued to market the product AFTER knowing about the problem, a good lawyer could no doubt pierce that clause.

      Then it becomes a factor of weighing costs vs benefits. Does the developer have deep enough pockets to go after? Can you get to him/her (in other words, if he is in China and you are in the UK, you may have a tough time of it).
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      • Profile picture of the author RobinInTexas
        Originally Posted by charbrown View Post

        Then it becomes a factor of weighing costs vs benefits. Does the developer have deep enough pockets to go after? Can you get to him/her (in other words, if he is in China and you are in the UK, you may have a tough time of it).
        Tough time might be the understatement of the millenia.

        What would it cost to even identify the potentially responsible party, no less measure the depth of their pockets or obtain jurisdiction over someone in say China or Nigeria.

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        Robin



        ...Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just set there.
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    • Profile picture of the author drem
      Originally Posted by Howlerckc View Post

      Hey Charles,

      What about damages due to a plugin, software etc. that got the purchaser banned to another website or service and/or caused issues on the purchaser's website.

      It has not happened to me, however, I believe this may be a larger issue than we know!

      Curt
      I wonder how this would hold up in court honestly. Since the developer didn't force you to install the plugin and you did so willingly, I believe the fault would be yours. Unless the plugin was functioning outside of its description (ie spamming websites) or something of the sort.
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      • Profile picture of the author charbrown
        Originally Posted by drem View Post

        I wonder how this would hold up in court honestly. Since the developer didn't force you to install the plugin and you did so willingly, I believe the fault would be yours. Unless the plugin was functioning outside of its description (ie spamming websites) or something of the sort.
        Good point. I think the entire case would depend on what representations the sellers made in their sales material. Courts don't hold to a strict buyer beware view. The look at what the buyer reasonably expected, based on the seller's information.

        But, unless the damage was pretty great, I suspect it wouldn't be worth most buyers' efforts to pursue it.
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  • Profile picture of the author RobinInTexas
    The biggest source of misinformation that U.S. marketers run into is the answer to "should I incorporate/llc/dba" and also whether or not they need to register their business somewhere- ie city, county, etc.

    Ask that on a forum and you'll get as many different opinions as there are possible answers.
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    Robin



    ...Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just set there.
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  • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
    Originally Posted by charbrown View Post

    What kind of resource would be most valuable to the IM community?
    One from an actual, practicing attorney.

    .
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  • Profile picture of the author Howlerckc
    With a certain social engine currently banning accounts due to usage of some certain scraping utilities, I can guess that people have been injured due to them. Is the developer responsible up until the point of knowledge of wrong doing, or just past the point of knowledge?
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    • Profile picture of the author charbrown
      Originally Posted by Howlerckc View Post

      With a certain social engine currently banning accounts due to usage of some certain scraping utilities, I can guess that people have been injured due to them. Is the developer responsible up until the point of knowledge of wrong doing, or just past the point of knowledge?
      I'll quote one of my law professors who gave us the all-purpose-legal-answer. "That depends."

      Honestly, there are a lot of factors that would have to be weighed. But my gut reaction is that their liability would generally begin at the point of knowledge.

      The big exception to that is willful ignorance. A court would look at whether the reasonably prudent software seller should have foreseen the problem. As to how a buyer could prove the software seller should have foreseen their product could cause the damage, that would basically depend on the circumstances of the case.
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  • Profile picture of the author john0pablo
    The most common issue is problem with payments. All marketing job can get you 0 returns, unless you run it continuously for several months.
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  • Profile picture of the author BradVert2013
    I think this is a great idea!

    You seem to have most of the big issues covered. I think intellectual property should be a big one - as I see IMers who think it's okay to use other people's work without the proper permission. IP itself could probably be a great niche by itself because it covers so much and it confuses a lot of people.

    It's nice to have an actual lawyer tackle these issues, instead of us IMers speculate and give poor legal advice.
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  • Profile picture of the author BradVert2013
    OK, I just thought of another issue you can tackle (at least for those of us in the US): The CAN-SPAM law. There are a few misconceptions I've seen about what the law actually allows and doesn't allow. Since email marketing and list building is such a huge part of what we do, it might be good to touch on this as well.
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    • Profile picture of the author charbrown
      Originally Posted by BradVert2013 View Post

      OK, I just thought of another issue you can tackle (at least for those of us in the US): The CAN-SPAM law. There are a few misconceptions I've seen about what the law actually allows and doesn't allow. Since email marketing and list building is such a huge part of what we do, it might be good to touch on this as well.
      I can't believe CAN-SPAM didn't occur to me. Thanks Brad, great suggestion.
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  • Profile picture of the author Anne Laidlaw
    This is a great idea! Most internet marketers don't have a clue when it comes to anything regarding legal stuff. I think a blog would be great.

    Anne L
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  • Profile picture of the author Ean Stark
    That wold be prefect, I had to do many google searches for questions I had on thi topic ,this would be great if it has quality content!


    Live your dreams,
    Ean
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  • Profile picture of the author 1ebooks
    Best legal defense is to stay out of court.

    Only the attorneys make dough.

    First cyber ether is not real, so anyone caught in a bs cyber suit needs to stop it on jurisdiction, by treaty the only court that can even really hear a cyber case is wipo, yet US courts are illegally trying to claim jurisdiction over stuff like domain names.

    Then damages? Really, if the tort is in virtual space, it's not real, no country owns cyber space.

    So the whole concept of legal actions grounded on cyber assets and actions is bogus.

    Sooner or later a smart lawyer will take a jurisdiction action to the USSC and prove the courts have no business in cyber space, they don't exist in it.

    Now a new court just for cyber law, ok, that's the purpose of WIPO with domain actions and so far they were great, but US courts are now trying to decide domain names stuff, they can't.

    Well they're doing it but cases exist where that may soon be decided that the girls in robes saying call me your honor have no business in cyber space.

    I hate lawyers

    LOL

    With 3 ex wives you know why.

    But you know what I got even, my trust fund bought all their legal keywords domains starting 20 years ago and now I charge lawyers a fortune to use my assets.

    haha
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    • Profile picture of the author charbrown
      Originally Posted by 1ebooks View Post

      Best legal defense is to stay out of court.

      Only the attorneys make dough.

      First cyber ether is not real, so anyone caught in a bs cyber suit needs to stop it on jurisdiction, by treaty the only court that can even really hear a cyber case is wipo, yet US courts are illegally trying to claim jurisdiction over stuff like domain names.

      I hate lawyers

      LOL

      With 3 ex wives you know why.

      But you know what I got even, my trust fund bought all their legal keywords domains starting 20 years ago and now I charge lawyers a fortune to use my assets.

      haha
      LOL, I realize some of what you were saying was just venting, but the jurisdiction matter you mentioned deserves comment. Unless the terms of agreement on a site specifies a certain jurisdiction (usually the company's home state and county) an injured party can sue in their own backyard.

      It's the same principle as when a sales letter comes to you by mail. They solicited your business at your home in your own jurisdiction. In the U.S. the courts have taken that to mean that a lawsuit can be filed in your home town courthouse.

      That said, most companies know enough to specify what jurisdiction will handle a dispute that may arise.

      But as internet marketers, this is a good lesson. On your own terms of service, specify your own local state, city or county so you can't be dragged into a court on the other side of the world.

      Better yet, also include an arbitration clause so that you can avoid court at all, and have all disputes resolved in arbitration.
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