Perhaps you are starting a business and want to support it with a website. Or possibly your blog has transformed into a business, charging for subscriptions, offering services for a fee, receiving ad revenue or selling merchandise. Regardless of how it helps you earn income, there are rules to follow for keeping your business website legal.
Protecting yourself from liability particularly requires protecting customer and subscriber privacy, including data from sales transactions. Also, customers expect business websites to be meticulous in following through on any promises made or commerce policies stated on the website. Seeking legal help is a wise first step. Lawyers can help you anticipate potential legal problems, according to Squidoo’s UpMarket website, and this can save you money.
Seeking Legal Help
It may seem burdensome to contract for legal help at the outset of business development. Seeking legal help, however, to respond to problems after they occur is more expensive than gaining help up front. A good lawyer can anticipate difficulties your business and website may face and help you decide on a business structure to protect your private assets, such as a home, from claims caused by the business, for example.
Lawyers can also help you understand what needs to be stated on a business website and in what ways you need to protect yourself. These statements include policies supporting customer privacy and rules they must follow in using the site.
Posting Privacy and Terms-of-Use Policies
To explain how a terms-of-use policy is organized, the JP Paulson website offers its own page as an example. The page should begin with a statement of acceptance to which a customer agrees in using the site. Other matters posted should include:
- A statement of user responsibilities in registering to use the website
- A customer-conduct passage detailing matters such as agreeing not to use the website in an illegal manner
- An explanation of what the customer agrees to if submitting content to the website and
- Passages making customers aware that the website is not responsible for the quality, or problems or warranty of an advertiser’s product.
Securing Registration and E-Commerce Data
If a website registers users or directly sells products, JP Paulson warns that it must “very seriously” protect that information. It suggests guaranteeing that security by hiring a web service provider ensuring “top security standards” and sharing liability for any errors. A free research guide about web service providers is available at webhostingchoice.com.
Maintaining Promises and Accessibility
It should go without saying that a business suffers loss of customer faith if it doesn’t follow through on promises or doesn’t respond in timely fashion to user complaints. JP Paulsen says, however, that a business can also lose traffic it doesn’t deliver what it offers, such as newsletters and coupons.
Using Copyrighted Material
Britain’s Law Donut website notes that business website owners need to protect themselves in a number of ways regarding copyright matters. First, they should let people who access the site know how they may and may not use its copyrighted material. Second, the website itself must be meticulous about not violating the copyrighted material of others, such as using pictures or articles without permission.
Protecting Your Name
Finally, Law Donut reminds business website owners that it is wise to avoid legal wrangling over ownership of your business name by purchasing a range of domain names beyond a “.com” extension. If you don’t, other companies may use your name with a “.net” or “.org” extension.