LESSON #43: Legal Compliance & Legal Documents for Your Website

Throughout this lesson series, we’ve been covering the basics of building your online business. And now that you’re establishing a web presence, there are some steps you’ll want to take to help keep yourself out of legal trouble.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a lawyer. I have no legal qualifications. I’m just presenting this information based on my own experience and research. Before taking any actions that might have legal consequences, you should consult with a lawyer.

(Watch this video…)

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Main points:

  • Why you should care about protecting your business:

    1) Civil Lawsuits
    2) Legal compliance (FTC, FDA, State Attorney General, etc)

  • Steps you can take…

    1) Choose an appropriate business entity

    -Consult with an attorney or tax advisor about this.

    Potential benefits of corporations over sole proprietorships:

    -They protect you personally from certain legal liabilities
    -They may reduce your tax liability

    Resource: LegalZoom

    2) Avoid risky niches

    For example…

    -Gambling
    -Adult content
    -Medical
    -Illegal/unethical things
    -How to make money

    But don’t let FEAR stop you from going into a niche you’re truly passionate about.

    (See video for horror stories, etc.)

    Do NOT assume that you can fly under the radar of the FTC. Instead, assume you are on their radar, and make sure you’re in compliance.

    3) Educate yourself

    Look to the governing lawmakers for your country.

    In the USA, the most important for Internet marketers is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

    Update: Here is the FTC “.Com Disclosures” document from March 2013:
    http://www.ftc.gov/os/2013/03/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf
    (I recommend reading this entire document)

    Information for businesses: http://ftc.gov/bcp/business.shtm

    Here is a helpful document containing FAQ: FTC’s Revised Endorsement Guides

    Ecommerce: http://ftc.gov/bcp/menus/business/ecommerce.shtm

    Other helpful sites:

    FDA: www.fda.gov
    Copyright: www.copyright.gov
    Small Business Administration: www.sba.gov
    US Patent and Trademark office: www.uspto.gov

    -Do a TESS search before registering a domain or naming a product.

    -Consider hiring a lawyer.

    4) Use appropriate legal documents

    How to get the documents:

    1) Hire a lawyer who UNDERSTANDS Internet business law (Best option)

    Probably $500 to $5000

    2) Buy some documents (2nd best option)

    The key here is to get some that are:

    A) up to date
    B) written by a real lawyer

    Resources:

    Attorney Bob Silber: www.websitelawforms.com (Approx. $2800 to license his docs)

    Attorney Mike Young: Website Legal Forms Generator (Approx $197)

    Discount legal form provider: Find Legal Forms (Approx. $15 per document)

    Beware of WebLawGenerator or anything that looks like it is a resale rights product. Do not buy it.

    3) Find some free documents (worst option)

    Why you might not want to use free documents:
    http://blog.ebusinesslawgroup.com/2008/08/why-shouldnt-you-use-free-terms-of.html

    Idea: You can take some free docs, customize them yourself to meet the needs of your website, and then pay a lawyer or paralegal to review and revise it as necessary.

    Free Terms of Service:
    http://www.webmasters-cavern.com/tools/tosgen/
    http://www.website-law.co.uk/termsandconditions.html (UK)

    Free site disclaimer:
    http://ericstips.com/legaldocs.zip
    http://prioritydigital.com/free_disclaimer.htm
    http://www.website-law.co.uk/disclaimer.html (UK)

    Free privacy policy:
    http://ericstips.com/legaldocs.zip
    http://www.dmaresponsibility.org/PPG/
    http://www.website-law.co.uk/privacypolicy.html (UK)
    http://www.easyriver.com/myprivacy.htm
    http://www.freeprivacypolicy.org

    Free copyright notice:
    http://ericstips.com/legaldocs.zip

    Action steps:

    1) Continue to educate yourself about the legal aspects of your business.

    2) Put the appropriate legal documents on your website.

    In the next lesson we’re going to begin learning how to create an information product.

    As always, you are welcome to post your questions and comments below.

    Have a great day!

  • 132 comments on “LESSON #43: Legal Compliance & Legal Documents for Your Website

    1. Alvin Taylor

      This Info is GREAT! Last week, I was talking with my brother, who is also building a web business about this very thing. Great Info at just the right time. Thanks very much

      Reply
    2. Nedra

      Great, easy to follow, and understand. Thanks, Eric..!!

      Reply
    3. Micah

      Hello Jo Ann,

      When it comes to legal documents, you really don’t want something that appears that it has been resold many times all over the internet, by different vendors.

      That is because you want to have current legal documents, that haven’t been altered in any way by people who are not experienced in legal matters.

      Reply
    4. Madeleine

      For Australian owned websites, I found an international company who were very quick to answer my queries and have a package deal for A$60. I searched for reviews and only came across 4 quite minor complaints. All other reviews seem to be positive. Find Legal Forms. http://www.findlegalforms.com/ They are based in the US. They specifically cover UK, Canada and India, too.

      Reply
    5. Marija

      Hi,
      Thank you Eric for the awareness to be attentive.I live in one of the European’s country and here is probably similar internet low. Some general warnings I had heart before but you have spread out them in details. What is the main role of privacy – policy in WP? Should I install it as affiliate?
      Could you please provide me a link for a lesson 42#that I have not received it. Thank you! Marija

      Reply
    6. mark winget

      what he means is lesson #41 stops right after you mention TESS and does not continue. Same glitch here

      Reply
    7. paul

      Hi eric I dont know if you have time to answer all our requests but the only thing that really concerns me is that I have applied on some of the outsorcing companies. I read a bit about elance for example and alot of people say on the net that they are a scam. I also dont feel comfortable about giving my credit card details to companies i dont know much about, also how can one ensure that the person who is providing the service isnt going to take my money upfront then run?
      Im not sure if you will answer me and if you can is it ok to email me because im not sure if you we will answer me on this blog.. thank you for your lessons-

      Reply
    8. Eric Post author

      Most freelancer sites such as elance and vWorker use some type of escrow arrangement. As long as escrow is used, you don’t have to worry about them running off with your money. They only get paid when the work is done. I really like vWorker for this reason, they have a very buyer-friendly escrow system.

      Reply
    9. Prue

      Hi Eric,

      Can someone freely use the information on your website if you don’t have a terms of use document on the site? And, how do I upload the TOS to the website? I’ve actually started a blog without putting the TOS on the website.

      Reply
    10. Eric Post author

      Technically, no people shoudln’t freely use content from a website. But some will, and a TOS may help prevent it.. and would help enforce it. You could make a page in WordPress, as I’ve done, or simply upload the HTML pages and link to them from the bottom of your site.

      Reply
    11. Prue

      Thanks Eric. I really appreciate your help.

      Reply
    12. Brandon

      Hi Dora,

      I wanted to know if you would be kind enough to share what company that was? It would be helpful to at least know what company and to be careful…I know we all have to do our own due diligence and research as well, but it might help other’s in case they are.

      Thank you,
      Brandon

      Reply
    13. Mark

      Thanks for going in dept on the legal aspect, Eric.

      Mark

      Reply
    14. george

      Terrifying stuff, Eric! With a .com etc., or WP site operating from Australia, I have no idea where my traffic comes from (if & when it does!)and who I may be selling to. Therefore, do I have to ensure that I comply with every law in every country? Mission Implausible?

      Reply
    15. Micah

      Hello George,

      If you are using a Payment processor, such as PayPal or ClickBank, they handle the international purchase rules for you, such as VAT tax, etc.

      Reply
    16. FERNANDO

      Great tips and something we’ve never took into consideration. Thanks for the share Eric.

      Reply
    17. Jorge Garcia

      Eric thank you for this invaluable information I have to educate myself on these issues as best I can, my question would be when I buy a product with private label rights can I be able to translate it to Spanish regards Jorge

      Reply
      1. Micah

        Hello Jorge,

        Yes, Private Label Rights would allow you to make those changes.

        Reply
    18. Hariata

      Hi Eric. For New Zealanders new to business, this link below is a good place to start. It includes a link to the Companies office, (where company registration can be done online, quickly). Inland revenue also run free courses to show people how to organise themselves, and they pretty much show you what to do to set yourself up on the right side of the law – for free. These courses run in the big cities on a regular basis. http://www.ird.govt.nz/yoursituation-bus/starting/ Thank you for your excellent tuiton.

      Reply
      1. Eric Post author

        Is it worth $49? Yeah probably. Will it offer legal protection? Again I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know, but in my opinion it’s better than nothing.

        Reply
    19. Bill

      Tuesday, December 17, 2013 ( 10:41:52 AM )

      Good day Eric,

      I just copied and pasted the footer info. At the bottom one of your web pages just to ask this question:

      Q.) Did you construct these forms yourself (it sure sounded like you) or did you get a privacy policy form from online and re-do it your self?
      Q.) What kind of privacy policy do we really need for our website or is there a “generic” privacy form that we could use that would basically protect us?
      Q.) The way you have your’s set up at the bottom of your web pages is that the proper way to set them up?

      Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Earnings Disclaimer | DMCA | Affiliate & Material Connection Statement
      © 2005-2013 by Eric Holmlund LLC – All rights reserved

      Thanks Eric and have a great day.

      Bill

      Reply
      1. Micah

        Hello Bill,

        Eric goes through the pros and cons of each way of going about this, in the lesson above. Please see this note on the “free option”:

        “3) Find some free documents (worst option)

        Why you might not want to use free documents:
        http://blog.ebusinesslawgroup.com/2008/08/why-shouldnt-you-use-free-terms-of.html

        Idea: You can take some free docs, customize them yourself to meet the needs of your website, and then pay a lawyer or paralegal to review and revise it as necessary.”

        Reply
    20. Bret

      Hi Eric, I just purchased your NCIS product and really like it a lot. I appreciate all the work that went into that product, because it is jam packed full of useful info. I am currently going through the affiliate marketing part of the course and have a few questions. I want to do a few product reviews for some ClickBank products. I am going to put the posts on a blogger blog. I noticed from an earlier comment that we don’t need to add any disclaimers, because the web 2.0 site adds their own disclaimers. Are these visible on each blog? If we wanted to add our own product disclosure, how should it look? Where should it appear? Thanks.
      Bret

      Reply
    21. Janis Searcey-Griffin

      Eric,

      Great stuff. Thank you for sharing this. It is so important and so often overlooked.

      Janis

      Reply
    22. Marc M. Demers

      Hi Eric,

      Thanks for this legal aspect, It’s a must for each Business Owner that we can forget without this kind of warning.

      Marc

      Reply
    23. Andrew Litchmore

      Hallo Eric

      This information is so helpful and timely as I am just in the process of building a number of websites and really needed to look at the legalities and get some legal documents for them. This has helped me save a considerable amount of time. Thanks so much! Wishing you and your family all the best 🙂

      Andrew

      Reply

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