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Thread: Web Site Legal Issues

  1. #1

    Web Site Legal Issues

    I'm about to launch a site, sort of a community like AO. I have no trouble with the computer side of the website, but what leaves me clueless is the legal side of owning a website. What baffles me is the terms of services, privacy polices, buisness licenses, and all that legal stuff.

    What my goal is, is to have a very successful site, very similar to the makeup of AO. If there is someone out there that is viewing this post with a legal background, I could use some advice on where to go and what I have to get done to make sure than I'm in a good legal standing with the site. Do I have to get a lawyer? Do I need certain permits? Ive had websites before but nothing that was worth advertising. So yeah, anyone with this kind of experience, I could use some advice. Thanks

  2. #2
    AO French Antique News Whore
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Well, I did try reading the Legal Notices, Licensing, Reprints, & Permissions, Privacy Policy at the bottom of this page for hint?
    -Simon \"SDK\"

  3. #3
    Obviously, I looked there first. But I can't just copy paste their legal documents onto my site! What I'm looking for is some kind of checklist, like if you have this on your site-then you need this in your privacy policy. That sort of thing.

  4. #4
    AO Decepticon CXGJarrod's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    I have seen a couple companies "modify" Microsofts legal policies with some of their own terms. You might want to try that... basically, until you become a big site, you dont really need them.
    N00b> STFU i r teh 1337 (english: You must be mistaken, good sir or madam. I believe myself to be quite a good player. On an unrelated matter, I also apparently enjoy math.)

  5. #5
    I'd rather be fishing DjM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    The Great White North
    I found this resource Soda_Popinsky, it may provide some help:

    Executive Summary: This section discusses the legal issues involved with the creation of a web site. Many of the topics discussed on this page are covered in greater detail elsewhere in BitLaw. The purpose of this page is to present in a single page the issues that must be addressed during the creation of a web site.
    Web Site Legal Issues


  6. #6
    I'm a little unclear on a few things, one is if you're planning on selling anything? Offering subscription services, etc? Is it an actual business where you plan on making money aside from banner advertising? Or is it just a community-type site?

    If it's just a community site a lawyer isn't needed unless you're intending a permanent brand in which you wish to obtain a legal copyright for, plan on selling products, especially where personal information (such as credit cards, checks, addresses, etc.) is concerned. You can advertise a site freely without having to obtain any sort of license or permit.

    Besides the site that Djm posted, here are some things to consider with a non-commercial site:

    With any major site, the first thing you want to create is an Acceptable Use Policy/TOS. This would be something that a user agrees to abide by for the entire duration of their stay on the site (i.e. membership). It can include anything from site policies, to policies that may affect your hosting (See their TOS), etc.. It's basically the complicated version of what would be a simplistic list of rules to follow.

    A few important things you may also want to point out in an AUP is the posting of copywritten materials and libel (check again with your hosts TOS).

    The next important must-have is a Privacy Policy. This is ESPECIALLY important when you're collecting personal information from a user. With the emphasis on spam-control, nowadays, this is a good chance to let your user know how you will be using their information. You can run into trouble for selling user information to third-parties without their knowledge and besides, it's dishonest.

    You can use a generator for creating a PP:

    Permissions is something that you need to decide for yourself. How do you personally feel about the reproduction of your work elsewhere? Should it have limitations? Should you be credited? Or is the information free for all to share without any credit whatsoever? This is where you lay down the law for those things. For a non-commercial site, Creative Commons is excellent.


  7. #7
    It is a community based site. I wont charge to subscribe to it, I want the community to be big and strong, but I hope to have small advertising, and maybe news links to other sites (money from linking) and a referral to a ticket broker, (money from referrals). Also, the merchandise will temporarily come from cafepress.com, so I dont have to worry about credit card numbers and shipping info and all that information. What they do there is take your logo and put it on a bunch of items, you set the price on those items, and then you make the profit from them. clients buy products from cafepress, not me. So is this considered commercial if im not actually selling anything myself? If my money is only coming from advertising, do I have to consider myself a buisness, (given that I make enough) and pay taxes on the profits 4 times a year? Great links guys, thanks a lot

  8. #8
    To be absolutely legit, depending on the money you make from advertising, I would report it on my taxes. Especially with referral/link type programs. I know with Commission Junction they actually take your tax information which if left unreported, I'm sure could come back and bite you in the ass. Same goes for CafePress.

    I'd handle all of my statements from both ventures like I would any other kind of income, unless it's so minute it doesn't seem worth reporting at all.

    With only going on those two ways of income, it would be more of a preference to whether or not you chose to become an actual business or not. Personally, I wouldn't bother, but later on you might consider expanding, you may become extremely popular and want to hold copyrights for your logo/site/domain/tagline (slogan) and sell your own products and handle your own payment gateway...Then I would say register as an official business and get a lawyer, but until then, I really feel you're fine with the way things are right now.

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