Although it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of launching your website, it's important to take your time in ensuring it's all done properly. There are a number of legal issues that need to be taken care of and address fully while you're setting up a website. Skipping these could lead to problems down the road, so it's absolutely essential that you take all of the necessary steps to get this all done correctly. Learn the legal rules surrounding your website, and keep yourself informed as to changes and new rules that may arise, in order to avoid legal troubles and complications.
1. Collecting personal information and data
When you're trying to collect data about your customers, whether it's their contact information and email address, or more personal information, there are certain rules you'll need to follow. “Even if all you're looking to do is to add someone to your mailing list, getting that information from them needs to be done according to the rules around privacy," – Mary Walton form Simple Grad says.
Throughout most areas of the world, there are rules in place that require you to make people aware that you are collecting their personal information. For the most part, this also applies to people who are already your customers.
This can be as simple as linking to your terms and conditions, where you outline what information you collect and how it is used, then asking people to check a box if they agree to these conditions. This is known as a clickwrap method, where users must click that they 'Agree' to your policy and terms in order to sign up for your mailing list, access information or make a purchase on your website.
2. Protecting your intellectual property
This is a two-part issue – you want to ensure your intellectual property is securely protected from your end, but you also want to be certain that you haven't breached the property rights of someone else.
“Trademarking your brand, logo and any other words or designs that are uniquely specific to your brand is the best way to legally protect your intellectual property. While you're registering your own trademarks, you can have your lawyer confirm that there are no other trademarked information similar to yours," – says Amber Coburn from Assignment help.
Copyright protection applies to any works that you've authored, helping to preserve the rights of your original writing. If you need assistance in registering your trademark and copyright applications, a lawyer is your best resource for getting this done and ensuring it's done properly.
3. Advertising within the rules
You're never allowed to mislead your customers through deceptive advertising. This means you've got to tell them the truth and not skip out on anything important they would want to or need to know. If you're advertising a new headache remedy, if there are any known side effects, the customers need to be aware of them.
Advertising your products towards children involves its own separate set of rules, so if this is the industry you're in, make sure you're well aware of the guidelines for promoting to children.
US Anti-spam laws require a number of specifics to be present in advertising. This includes a clear identifier that lets customers know the message is an advertisement. If you're sending ads through email listings, recipients must be clearly made aware of how they can opt out.
Here is the additional advice from Gloria Kopp, the author of Studydemic: “Be completely aware of the advertising regulations that are in place wherever you are operating your business, and where you reach out to advertise."
4. Outlining the terms of a contract
It's in the best interest of you, as a business, and your customers that the terms and conditions of any contract are clearly stated before any exchange is done. Potential customers need to have access to the terms they are agreeing to, including what their obligations are, what your obligations are as a business and when the contract is considered complete.
Failing to lay out these specifics can lead to disagreements, misunderstandings and miscommunication. A clear contract, with terms that both parties agree to, helps make that arrangement legally binding, and holds both parties accountable to the terms they've agreed to.
5. Don't forget the basics
Yes, there are some complicated legal matters that need to be properly addressed within your website. But, there are some basics that also need to be attended to. Including important company information is a must, according to the E-Commerce Directive. “If you're selling online, you've got to provide your company name, contact information and address, registration number and VAT number for your company", - Carol Wise from CV service always reminds her clients. The best way to ensure you haven't left out any of this information and to ensure it's correct, is to have a third party, unfamiliar with it, review it.
Have all of your legal concerns in order prior to launching your website, then take the time and effort to keep yourself informed as to new additions or changes being made to the legal issues surrounding online business. Your best resource for this is a lawyer, who can ensure everything is done correctly and make you aware of any changes.