Monthly Archives: January 2012

January 28th: Celebrate Data Privacy Day!

Order a cake! Decorate the place with streamers! Throw confetti everywhere! Invite friends over, play loud music, and dance on the couch!

Why?

Well, it’s January 28th: Data Privacy Day!

In all seriousness, Data Privacy Day is recognized in the United States, Canada, and in many countries throughout Europe to promote awareness for businesses and consumers to safeguard their personally identifiable information online.

Back in 2009, the United States Congress declared January 28th the official day to observe Data Privacy Day. With January 28th close at hand, it’s a good time to review what it means to protect personally identifiable information and maintain online privacy from the standpoint of both the consumer and online business owner.

What Data Privacy Day Means for Consumers

Our lives are becoming more digitized. Consumers are being tracked by their every click via cookies or web beacons. (Unless, of course, they opt-out). Some websites ask the visitor to create an account on the site, meaning the user has the option to give out personally identifiable information based on whether or not the user decides to create an account with that site or not. For the consumer who isn’t quite as tech savvy, Data Privacy Day provides an opportunity to teach consumers about protecting their online privacy – especially in the social media realm. Consumers should be aware of what online predators lurking in the shadows can do if online privacy is compromised, and what course of action to take should that happen.

What Data Privacy Day Means for Online Businesses

Observing Data Privacy Day for the e-entrepreneur serves as an opportunity to ensure your business upholds a high standard of online privacy safety mechanisms to protect consumer data from falling into the wrong hands. As an online business owner, ask yourself:

  • Does the privacy policy on my website state clearly the reason why my online business collects personally identifiable information, how it’s used, and how it’s protected?
  • Does my site have a clear and conspicuous “Opt-In” or “Opt-Out” clause regarding third-party use of certain types of personal information?
  • Are my firewall and encryption software up-to-date to protect against potential hacking?

Since technology and laws governing the Internet seem to change as fast as Superman changes clothes, you should have an online privacy audit done on your web properties to ensure your customers’ online privacy is kept.

Imagine what it would cost your business, not just in terms of dollars and cents, but in reputation if there were a breach in online privacy connected to your website. The financial loss you and your business would suffer could be huge – gargantuan(!). The bond of trust your customers had with you wouldn’t be broken. No, it would be shattered to bits beyond repair. Then what?

Naturally, you want to avoid a nightmare situation in which you’re responsible for losing, misusing, or not protecting a consumer’s personal data and keeping it private. Having an experienced online privacy attorney conduct a privacy audit of your website is a major step toward maintaining your customers’ online privacy. An online privacy attorney can help you make your website a trustworthy place for your customers who entrust your site with their personal information.

Finally, Data Privacy Day isn’t a day that Internet entrepreneurs and consumers observe on one specific day a year. After all, data thieves don’t steal data only one day a year. That’s why what’s observed on Data Privacy Day should be observed all year-round.

Have a happy and healthy Data Privacy Day!

Sued For Downloading? What You Should Do.

Have you been sued for downloading? Don’t mortgage your home just yet. There are legal avenues you can take that won’t break the bank. What? Keep reading.

Even though much of the hype has died down over the thousands of people being sued for downloading and file sharing, recording artists and movie makers are still on the lookout for individuals and entities pirating their works and selling them for monetary gain.

Fair enough.

However, there are some people who take Internet swashbuckling to the extreme by offering their services to troll the Internet looking for websites that pirate, peddle, and profit from infringing on their clients’ copyrighted or trademarked works.

These trolls, as many have come to find out, are after hefty sums of money — sometimes as much as $150,000 — for infringing on their clients’ copyright. In a recent blog post, we reported how copyright trolls are going after people who download porn onto their computers. Knowing that shame and embarrassment are powerful motivators, these copyright trolls would send out settlement letters to the alleged copyright infringers which strongly suggest that they settle up or go to court and have their name dragged through the mud.

More recently, Voltage Pictures partnered with U.S. Copyright Group and took on 25,000 anonymous users of BitTorrent who allegedly illegally downloaded the movie The Hurt Locker.

What Should I Do If I Get Sued For Downloading?

First of all, don’t ignore a settlement letter you’ll probably receive if you get sued for downloading. Take the letter seriously – even if the letter came through your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Chances are if the settlement letter came to you via your ISP, you might still be anonymous to the copyright troll. To quote from the movie Mission Impossible, “Anonymity…is like a warm blanket.”

But don’t get too cozy if you’ve been sued for downloading. You may end up having to step in to the legal arena to defend yourself.

Taking it one step further, let’s say you have a civil complaint filed against you for copyright infringement demanding that you “disgorge yourself of any ill-gotten gain…” After you’re done disgorging your lunch and have everything cleaned up, it’s time to defend yourself.

The best thing to do if you have been sued for downloading, or served with a settlement letter or civil complaint from a copyright troll — whether it’s for illegally downloading porn, songs, movies, or other intellectual property to which you do not own the copyright – is get a hold of an experienced Internet lawyer who understands intellectual property law.

Don’t try to handle the matter yourself. You don’t want to face the possibility of getting into deeper trouble because you decided to handle the matter yourself. The Kelly Law Firm has experience dealing with Internet trolls and advising clients on whether or not they should comply with the settlement letter or fight against it to maintain your good reputation.

Internet piracy and copyright infringement are serious things. If you’re the subject of a copyright infringement notice brought to you by a not-so-friendly Internet troll, don’t wait. Contact us today.

McKee V. Laurion Defamation Lawsuit: Round Three

Looks like Dennis Laurion is heading back to court. The Minnesota resident, who has been entangled in an online defamation lawsuit for nearly two years, was reportedly “dismayed” to learn on Monday that the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the decision of District Court Judge Erick Hylden.

In April of 2011, Hylden ruled that 11 statements purportedly made by Laurion did not constitute online defamation. But this week, the appeals court essentially said, “Nope, this case should be heard by a jury.”

Dr. David McKee – of Northland Neurology and Myology – first filed suit in June of 2010, accusing Laurion of online defamation after McKee provided medical attention to Laurion’s father in the hospital after a stroke. Dennis was not pleased with McKee’s demeanor or professionalism and took to a couple of doctor-review-sites to air his grievances.

Laurion contends every statement he made online was truthful and denies posting his diatribes “all over the Net.” Instead, he insists that he only made a couple of online statements, which he eventually deleted, and filed a couple of complaints. That’s it.

Nevertheless, McKee is asking for around $50,000 in defamation damages.

When asked how he felt about the appellate court’s decision, McKee said it was “good news and I’m glad that it turned out that way.”

Laurion’s lawyer explained that while they would have loved to see decision stand, the appellate court decided that there were, indeed, triable issues, and his team would simply have to go back to court.

The Laurion online defamation trial will focus on 6 statements allegedly typed by Dennis on the Internet.

To keep up with the McKee v. Laurion defamation lawsuit – put your email on the Kelly Law Firm Internet Law newsletter.

The Queen of Versailles Defamation Debacle

On the first night of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, participants packed into a sold-out theater to screen “The Queen of Versailles” – a film directed by award-winning documentarian, Lauren Greenfield. But what many of the viewers may not have known is that “The Queen of Versailles” is embroiled in a defamation lawsuit.

How the Queen of Versailles Defamation Lawsuit Came To Be

Several years ago, Greenfield and her team set out to document the life David “the timeshare king” Siegel, his wife Jackie and their 7 kids, as they constructed their 90,000 square-foot manse in Windermere, Florida. Ostensibly trying to replicate royalty, the Siegel’s home was to be a replica of Versailles – the famed palace on the outskirts of Paris.

Everything was going along great – and then the financial crisis of 2008 hit. The Siegel’s, it turned out, as a result of the downturn, ended up having a lot more problems to ponder than whether or not their palace was being built. Private jets turned into coach-class seats, and the documentary became more about the Siegel’s outward reversal of fortune.

The Defamation Claims

Original promotional material for the film, published by Sundance, included language suggesting that Seigel’s business had “collapsed,” the house was “foreclosed” on and the family was “destitute.” Moreover, the film was described as a “rags-to-riches-to-rags” story.

Upon seeing the marketing blurbs, Seigel demanded that the language be changed. Sundance did comply, but it was already too late – the excerpts the subjects found most distasteful and defamatory had already made their way to 12,000 websites.

So, Seigel lawyered up and is now suing Greenfield, the Sundance Institute and Frank Evers – Greenfield’s husband and producer of the documentary – for defamation. Michael Marder, Seigel’s counsel, specifically said that “Westgate [Seigel’s firm] is a stable and profitable company.”

The suit is asking for $75,000 in defamation damages.

When asked to comment on the defamation lawsuit, Sundance simply stated that it “maintains its long held and firm commitment to freedom of expression.”

Do you need legal help with a defamation issue? The Kelly Law firm has assisted hundreds of people with various defamation litigation and lawsuit needs. Contact us today for a defamation consultation.

Online Defamation Injunction In Ireland

Imagine if you were traveling in a country half-way around the world from your own, and returned home only to find out that your name had been dragged through virtual mud? Well, that is exactly what happened to Irishman, Eoin McKeogh — who then had to take legal action to rectify his online defamation problem.

Online Defamation Of A Traveling Man?

On November 13, 2011, Eoin McKeogh, a 22-year-old student from Dublin, Ireland, was innocently doing his academic thing in Japan. Being that Japan is a substantial distance from Dublin, Mr. McKeogh was understandably dismayed upon discovering, on a cold December day, that he was being accused of stiffing a Dublin taxi driver of his due €50 (about $64.57 USD) fare on November 13.

The taxi driver, who had taken a video of the fleeing fare evader on November 13, decided to post the video on YouTube in December. In the video, another person was heard to clearly call out to the culprit by name, “Eoin.” That’s all that was required for somebody to accidentally corner themselves in an online defamation lawsuit. When the video made the rounds online, an anonymous poster suggested that Eoin McKeogh had committed the dastardly deed.

Now, with the actual guilty party’s face prominently displayed in the video, one would expect that rational judgment and behavior would ensue. One would hope that the person who so eagerly and stupidly accused Mr. McKeogh of this evil act would see the video and say “Hey! I was wrong. Back off, boys.” Sadly, that was not the case. The mob hath spoken and there was blood to be taken. Insanity reigns; let the madness begin!

Online Defamation Accusations Continue

Before long, the online defamation claims crescendoed and the innocent Mr. McKeogh was called names that would make Beelzebub blush — “sc-mbag and “thief” counted among the mild insults. Mr. McKeogh ostensibly felt like he was being maligned on every “breaking news” and social website on the Internet. It was like an online defamation tsunami.

Mr. McKeogh first went to the Gardaí — Ireland’s police force — for advice and to lodge a complaint. Apparently, the matter was out of their hands, so Mr. McKeogh was forced to bring an online defamation suit to protect his good name. On January 10, 2012, the matter was brought before the courts.

To the Courts of Online Defamation Justice

At that time, Mr. McKeogh presented his passport to the presiding judge so he could judge for himself whether Mr. McKeogh was capable of acting with such scurrilous indifference while he was, in fact, in Japan. The passport clearly indicated that Mr. McKeogh had absolutely been in the Far East from November 11, 2011 until November 22, 2011.

On that day, January 10, 2012, Mr. McKeogh was seeking an injunction to have the video associated with his name permanently deleted from the web.

Subsequent to that court appearance, media outlets continued to marry McKeogh’s name with the crime. Pauline Whalley, attorney for the plaintiff, was forced to appeal for the court’s interception to prevent newspapers from continuing to name Mr. McKeogh as a suspect.

Attorney Whalley mentioned that the taxi driver had appeared in court on January 13 to aver that Mr. McKeogh was definitely not the young man in the video, nor did he even resemble the actual culprit. On that day, the cabbie apologized profusely to young McKeogh for the problems brought about.

On Tuesday, January 17, the high court provided Mr. McKeogh with an injunction preventing YouTube, Google and Yahoo from posting the video for one whole week. Err, Yahoo!?

Online Defamation Epilogue

A Mr. Eoin Black has come forth to confess that it was he who perpetrated the crime of the century. He has apologized to, and paid off, the taxi driver. Black has also publicly expressed his regrets to Mr. McKeogh.

The high court Justice, Micheal Peart, announced that he would make an immediate decision as to whether or not Mr. McKeogh can receive his permanent injunction.

MegaUpload Website Has MegaProblems

Kim Dotcom - Megaupload Legal Problems
Kim Dotcom in 1996. Source: Wikipedia

On January 19, 2012, MegaUpload.com, one of the Internet world’s largest file-sharing websites was shut down by federal agents. Several executives and the website’s founder have been charged with violating piracy laws. The feds aren’t finished, either; they’ve prepared indictments and are ready to round up as many pirates as possible.

The indictment accuses Megaupload.com of taking in excess of $500 million from copyright holders. The lost revenue is attributed to piracy of films and other downloadable content. The indictment was unceremoniously unsealed the day after Craigslist, Wikipedia and other protesting sites had closed down in protest of SOPA and PIPA, two wild and crazy legislative proposals designed to put the kibosh on illegal downloading.

Before the Megaupload Apocalypse

The website’s ills actually began back in the early part of 2011 when the FBI tossed a line to the New Zealand police. The FBI requested that the Kiwis’ assist with an investigation of MegaUpload.com. In late October, the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) put MegaUpload, The Pirate Bay and the Russian equivalent of Facebook, VKontakte, on its long list of “notorious websites.” In all, nearly 20 “rogue” websites were included on the list. The stage was set for a musical drama in the high Cs.

The Storm of Controversy Starts

On December 9, 2011, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and a slew of artists supporting the pirate lifestyle and specifically MegaUpload.com recorded a video, a We Are the World (of pirates), if you will. Stars raising the Jolly Roger included Alicia Keys, Will.i.am, Snoop Dogg, P Diddy, Mary J Blige, Jamie Foxx, Kim Kardashian and the always cheerful Kanye West. The very next day, on December 10, UMG (Universal Music Group) had the video pulled from YouTube.

Let the Trials and Errors Begin

On December 12, MegaUpload.com founder Kim Dotcom filed suit against UMG for UMG’s infringement upon Mega’s alleged infringement. Megaupload’s CEO, David Robb, averred that nothing about the video belonged to UMG. All the performing artists had agreed to support and endorse Megaupload.com and eagerly appeared in the video. Everything was done in full compliance of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). As far as Robb was concerned, the UMG didn’t have a wooden leg to stand on in its bid to keep the video from being shown on YouTube or on any other tube.

On December 16, UMG stuck its corporate tongue out at Megaupload.com and said, “You can’t touch us.” UMG defended its position, insisting that they hadn’t broken any DMCA rules by pulling the video from YouTube.

You see, UMG and YouTube have a private agreement that existed beyond the range of the DMCA. Within the scope of said agreement, YouTube’s CMA (Content Management System), UMG has permission to pull anything it wants. It doesn’t matter if there’s an infringement or not. In fact, the removed video doesn’t even have to belong to UMG.

In the 18-page filing, UMG didn’t even bother to suggest that the video was an infringement upon anybody or anything. UMG outlined its agreement with YouTube and that’s the end of the story. We’ll take our ball and go home.

Uncle Sam I Am

On December 21, the seas of discontent were once again stirred by the US government. The USTR (United States Trade Representative) listed over a dozen websites allegedly involved in counterfeiting and piracy. Coincidentally and conveniently, the entire list was solely based on input from lobbying groups like the MPAA and RIAA. Many of the websites are not even in the U.S. They’re in Sweden, China, Russia and other places that crave the U.S. government’s loving involvement.

On December 26, Megaupload.com told UMG “Lucy, you have some ‘splainin’ to do.” Papers were filed to force UMG to provide legitimate reasons for the video take-down. The filing by the file-hosting service made it very clear that it would go to great lengths to dig up the dirt on what precisely has been going on between Vimeo, YouTube, UMG and other entities that were involved in the take-down of Mega’s video.

That takes us to the present.

The Beginning of the End?

The future of Megaupload.com as well as other file sharing websites remains in question. Tragically marooned in the Bay of Bummer and landlocked on the shoals of What do We do Now, the remains of one of the Internet’s former most popular file-hosting services lie in ruins.

Class Action John Doe Lawsuit Filed Against Internet Dating Network

A class action, John Doe lawsuit filed late in 2011 should serve as a warning to anybody looking to build an affiliate marketing network without first consulting an Internet lawyer. Online dating business, Positive Singles, is being hauled into court – and could pay handsomely – for allegedly distributing members’ personal data across a network of websites without proper consent.

Online Dating John Doe Lawsuit: The Background

According to a lawsuit filed in Superior Court of the State of California, several users of the website positivesingles.com are suing for allegedly having their private information distributed and misrepresented to a network of websites. The site positivesingles.com is a place where adults with various sexually transmitted diseases can post a dating profile.

Positivesingles.com’s website assures users that they “care about [their] privacy more than other sites” and promise that their profiles are “fully anonymous” and “100% confidential.”

Online Dating John Doe Lawsuit: The Claims

Some members of positivesingles.com, though, claim a different story. Based on the filing, it appears that many users felt their privacy was not protected – evidenced by the fact that their online profiles were spidered to Positive Singles’ vast network of affiliate websites.

Most alarming, the claimants argue, was the fact that many profiles landed, without consent, on websites that misrepresented members’ situations. So, for example: non-Christians who signed up for positivesingles.com landed on chirstiansafehaven.com; others with other STDs and not AIDS landed on AIDSdate.com; straight participants found themselves on gaypozdating.com.

Claimants in the lawsuit are arguing that positivesingles.com is in violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”), California Civil Code § 1750, which regulates unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business practices.

It’s unclear whether or not positivesingles.com posted a terms of service outlining the fact that member profiles would be made available to their entire affiliate marketing network. If yes, the plaintiffs could have a tough time pleading their case. That being said, if there is a terms of service, and the wording is arbitrary or unclear, then positivesingles.com could find themselves paying large damages.

Online Dating John Doe Lawsuit: The Lesson

Positivesingles.com’s current legal fracas should serve as a warning to anybody setting up a large-scale affiliate marketing network.

And that lesson is: make sure you terms of service agreement and privacy policy clearly state how your affiliate marketing network actually works.

If your site intends to spider information to numerous sites, make sure that fact is conspicuously spelled out in your policies – it could save you an expensive class action lawsuit down the line.

Moreover, if your privacy policy says, “we do not disclose, sell or rent any personally identifiable information to any third party organizations,” make sure that’s the truth. Lots of free privacy policy templates found online include such language, make sure yours does not. Better yet, get an Internet lawyer to draft a proper terms of service and/or privacy policy for your website. They’re not expensive, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Most recently, John Doe lawsuits are also being used to go after people allegedly accused of downloading bittorrents of protected material. If you run an affiliate marketing network and are now facing a class action lawsuit, or if you’ve been mailed a “settlement letter” for downloading unauthorized content, contact the Kelly Law Firm. We’ve assisted hundreds with the same dilemma, and know all the ins-and-outs of litigating such cases. You can reach us anytime by using our contact form, or giving us a call at 1-866-570-8585.

Internet Law Bills Currently Making Their Way Through The US Federal Government

It’s Internet law time! Below is a chart of Internet laws currently being reviewed in both the House and Senate. Bookmark this page and check back for updates. If you have any Internet law needs or questions, contact the Kelly / Warner Law Firm — as Internet law is our forte.

Bill Sponsor Status Last Action Plain English
S. 74: Internet Freedom, Broadband Promotion, and Consumer Protection Act of 2011
A bill to preserve the free and open nature of the Internet, expand the benefits of broadband, and promote universally available and affordable broadband service.
Sen. Maria Cantwell [D-WA] Referred to Committee Jan. 25, 2011 Think “a chicken in every pot.” Everyone should have access to the Internet.
H.R. 654: Do Not Track Me Online Act
To direct the Federal Trade Commission to prescribe regulations regarding the collection and use of information obtained by tracking the Internet activity of an individual, and for other purposes
Rep. Jackie Speier [D-CA12] Referred to Committee Feb. 11, 2011 No more “cookies” for you.
H. Res. 95: Supporting the Preservation of Internet entrepreneurs and small businesses
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that Congress should not enact any legislation that would grant State governments the authority to impose any new burdensome or unfair tax collecting requirements on small online businesses and entrepreneurs, which would ultimately hurt the economy and consumers in the United States.
Rep. Daniel Lungren [R-CA3] Introduced Feb. 16, 2011 States shall not over tax small businesses or start-ups.
H.R. 1349: Public Online Information Act of 2011
To establish an advisory committee to issue nonbinding government-wide guidelines on making public information available on the Internet, to require publicly available Government information held by the executive branch to be made available on the Internet, to express the sense of Congress that publicly available information held by the legislative and judicial branches should be available on the Internet, and for other purposes.
Rep. Steve Israel [D-NY2] Referred to Committee Apr. 4, 2011 Public information should be, you guessed it, public. Best way to do that is to put it all online.
S. 717: Public Online Information Act of 2011
A bill to establish an advisory committee to issue non-binding government-wide guidelines on making public information available on the Internet, to require publicly available Government information held by the executive branch to be made available on the Internet, to express the sense of Congress that publicly available information held by the legislative and judicial branches should be available on the Internet, and for other purposes.
Sen. Jon Tester [D-MT] Referred to Committee Apr. 4, 2011 Same as H.R. 1349
H.R. 1389: Global Online Freedom Act of 2011
To prevent United States businesses from cooperating with repressive governments in transforming the Internet into a tool of censorship and surveillance, to fulfill the responsibility of the United States Government to promote freedom of expression on the Internet, to restore public confidence in the integrity of United States businesses, and for other purposes.
Rep. Christopher Smith [R-NJ4] Referred to Committee Apr. 6, 2011 Prevent companies from selling their souls to work with governments that suppress freedom of speech.
S. 913: Do Not Track Online Act of 2011
A bill to require the Federal Trade Commission to prescribe regulations regarding the collection and use of personal information obtained by tracking the online activity of an individual, and for other purposes.
Sen. John Rockefeller [D-WV] Referred to Committee May 9, 2011 Seriously, no more “cookies”.
H.R. 1895: Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011
To amend the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 to extend, enhance, and revise the provisions relating to collection, use, and disclosure of personal information of children and to establish certain other protections for personal information of children and minors.
Rep. Edward Markey [D-MA7] Referred to Committee May 13, 2011 I MEAN IT, NO MORE “COOKIES”! Especially for the kids. This bill amends COPPA.
S. 968: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP)
A bill to prevent online threats to economic creativity and theft of intellectual property, and for other purposes.
Sen. Patrick Leahy [D-VT] Reported by Committee May 26, 2011 This bill goes after overseas registered websites dedicated to infringement
H.R. 3261: Stop Online Piracy (SOPA)
To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes.
Rep. Lamar Smith [R-TX21] Pulled Jan. 20, 2011 Supposed to give copyright holders the ability to censor sites they feel infringe on IP.
H.R. 3605: Global Online Freedom Act of 2011
To prevent United States businesses from cooperating with repressive governments in transforming the Internet into a tool of censorship and surveillance, to fulfill the responsibility of the United States Government to promote freedom of expression on the Internet, to restore public confidence in the integrity of United States businesses, and for other purposes.
Rep. Christopher Smith [R-NJ4] Referred to Committee Dec. 8, 2011 Same as H.R. 1389
S. 2029: Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act
A bill to amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to deter unfair imports that infringe United States intellectual property rights, and for other purposes.
Sen. Ron Wyden [D-OR] Referred to Committee Dec. 17, 2011 Protects copyrights and trademarks from Internet infringement.

The Legalities of Affiliate Marketing

So, you want to get into affiliate marketing? If yes, do you understand the difference between EPC, CPC, CPM, CPA, PPV, ROI, and the rest of the affiliate marketing alphabet soup? Perhaps most importantly, do you know what legal pitfalls to look out for when starting an affiliate marketing business?

If not, don’t worry. This article will outline a few key things, both legal and general, to consider before jumping into the ocean of affiliate marketing.

Affiliate Marketing Verticals (Niches): Which Laws Affect Each Niche

Before you decide on a specific vertical or niche to jump into, ask yourself, “How profitable is this vertical for other affiliates?” If it’s profitable for a bunch of other people, there is a possibility it could be profitable for you, too. But like most things in life, your success depends on the effort you put in to your affiliate campaigns.

Some of most popular verticals include:

  • Dating
  • Weight loss – including colon cleansing products
  • Financial services — credit repair, credit scores, and mortgage loans
  • Skincare
  • Penny auctions

If you plan on setting up a dating, weight loss or skincare affiliate marketing program, there’s a good chance you’ll want to use testimonials on your site. And though it may be tempting, it’s important that you don’t make-up testimonials out of thin air. The FTC gets very prickly about that — and doing so could end up costing you thousands of dollars in damages.

Now, that’s not to say that you can’t use testimonials that are based in fact. You just need the proper FTC disclaimer on your site. An experienced Internet lawyer is the most appropriate person to contact about making sure your site’s terms of service comply with various FTC statutes about testimonials and online marketing.

If you’re leaning more towards penny auctions or financial planning, make sure you’re up to date on all federal and state laws that deal with online privacy as it relates to the disclosure of personal information. Again, its best to contact an Internet lawyer when thinking about starting a business that involves finances.

Affiliate Marketing Legal Compliance

If you’re looking to get involved with affiliate marketing, complying with all federal, state, and local laws, in addition to advertising and consumer protection regulations, is a must. If the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suspects your affiliate business of running afoul, they’ll be on your doorstep almost as quickly as it took to load this page . (Well, maybe not quite that fast, but you get the point.)

Trying to make sense of all the laws regulations that encompass advertising on the Internet can be overwhelming – especially when you’re trying to get your toe in the ocean of affiliate marketing. The last thing you want is to be accused of false advertising, misleading consumers or defending yourself in court as a result of an FTC investigation. That’s why having an Internet lawyer on your side, one who is also into affiliate marketing, makes perfect sense.

An experienced Internet attorney with affiliate marketing industry experience can also help equip you with some safeguards no affiliate site should be without.

Terms of Service: Having a “Terms of Service” page on your affiliate website tells visitors what is and is not acceptable use on your website. The terms of service for your website are a set of ground rules that explain the purpose of the site, the rights and responsibilities of you, the publisher, and site visitors. The terms of service explain the relationship you have (or don’t have) with third-party advertisers and whether or not you make a commission from those ads.

The terms should let visitors know how their information is being used or tracked by cookies or web beacons, in addition to letting users know how they can opt-out of having cookies or web beacons track their web surfing preferences. The terms of service should also define the manner in which legal disputes are to be settled between you, the affiliate, and the end-user. You don’t want to have a pending lawsuit brought against you in a place where your business isn’t physically present.

Privacy Policy: As part of your affiliate marketing venture, you may need to collect personal information such as: first and last name, e-mail address, telephone number, street address, and whether or not the user is 18 or older. You’ll need to give users the assurance that you are doing your due diligence to keep their information safe. Also, you must disclose if you plan to retain any personally identifiable data for any length of time. Your site’s privacy policy should also assure users that you will not use their information to spam, scam, or any otherwise naughty thing.

There is a lot more to affiliate marketing than what’s contained in this article. To get a better understanding of the legal issues affiliated with affiliate marketing, contact a fellow affiliate and experienced Internet lawyer today.

Invaluable tool when it comes to all Internet Dealings

The Kelly Law Firm is an invaluable tool when it comes to all Internet dealings.  Their knowledge and experience in Internet law has given my website the superior protection it needs to operate in today’s online world.  I would highly recommend their services to anyone needing terms of service, privacy policies, or internet legal advice

History of U.S. Copyright Law: Early U.S. Copyright Law (Part II of IV)

Yesterday, we kicked off a series on the history of United States copyright law. The first article focused on a few copyright law facts. Today, we’ll take a look back at the birth of copyright protection in the United States.

Early U.S. Copyright Law

It’s easy to forget that prior to 1783, the United States was a largely agrarian society, and as such, most folks were generally more concerned about patents as opposed to copyrights. But even then, a copyright lobby existed (albeit much smaller than today’s iteration), who appealed to the Continental Congress’ using what could be described as reasoning by “intellectual property manifest destiny”. If you agreed to a dinner with an 18th century copyright law lobbyist, they’d undoubtedly tell you that “nothing is more properly a man’s own than the fruit of his study” and would most likely remind you that copyright would “encourage the spreading of genius.”

But despite copyright lobby efforts, the Continental Congress determined that they did not have the authority to issue copyright protection. Members did, however, encourage states to pass copyright laws, and suggested allowing for two, fourteen-year terms as a reasonable statute.

Copyright Act of 1790

By 1790, regulations were tweaked, and the U.S. government passed the first national copyright act. A near replica of the United Kingdom’s 1709 Statute of Anne, the U.S. copyright act of 1790 secured an author the exclusive right to publish and vend “maps, charts and books” for fourteen years; if the author of a work was still living after their 14-year term is up, renewal rights were granted for an additional 14-year term.

Between 1790 and 1799, approximately 13,000 titles were published in the US, but only 556 works were registered. (Look up how many copyrights are registered in the US today)

The 1790 act Expressly stated that it did not protect works of foreign authors and did not prohibit the pirating of foreign works – which, ultimately, had a negative effect on US-born writers, as it was much cheaper for publishers to print the works of foreign authors as opposed to paying royalties to us authors.

Only works that adhered to statutory formalities like C notices were protected – everything else went immediately into the public domain.

Copyright Act of 1831

Around 40 years after the first copyright law was ratified, the folks felt it was already time for a change. After all, people were living much longer, and two 14-year terms was deemed insufficient.

So, the terms were tweaked. The new copyright law allowed for an initial term of 28 years, with an option to renew for an additional 14-year term.

Fun Fact: Noah Webster – the dictionary impresario – was instrumental in pushing the 1831 copyright bill through.

Copyright Act 1909

When the 18th century turned into the 19th century, once again, United States copyright statutes needed a major overhaul. Technology was advancing at a rapid pace, people were living even longer still, and new modes of distribution and reproduction hit the scene (think the first IT revolution). And oddly enough, the introduction of the “piano roll” (that seemingly magical little contraption that allows pianos to play a song without a pianist) was really what ignited the need for adjustments to copyright law.

Lots of small changes were made in the 1909 Copyright Act, but perhaps the most important was the codification of a “compulsory mechanical license” that allowed anyone to make a “mechanical” reproduction of a musical composition without consent from the original composer, so long as the reproduction adhered to the license agreement. Essentially, the codification made musical “covers” possible.

Tomorrow, we’ll delve in to international copyright standards, which most American-, Canadian- and European Union-based businesses must follow.

Do you need a lawyer for a copyright issue? Yes? Contact the Kelly Law Firm. We have successfully litigated hundreds of copyright law-related cases and are here to help. Get in touch today!

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Me and my business partner called Aaron Kelly seeking some legal counsel to defend us against a pending defamation case and were blown away with Aaron’s knowledge of Internet law. If your kicking the tires on an idea involving the Internet, but your not sure its legal or in terms with Google’s accepted practices, this is the guy to ask, and if your already being sued, this is who I’d call to defend my business.