"I've got an online business and have a question about the law in an ecommerce environment".
This is a statement that most general practice solicitors and lawyers dread. It will usually be met with chin scratching, pen tapping and blank looks; in Australia anyway :). Even though ecommerce has permeated into just about every aspect of our lives, when it comes to legal advice for online business owners, it can be hard to find unless you engage high-flying legal firms.
In fact, the last time I ran a search on ecommerce savvy law firms in Adelaide, which has a population of over a million, there were only a couple that noted ecommerce as one of their knowledge areas. I'm sure this same scenario is repeated the world over. Adelaide law firms, take a hint - email me, I have clients here for you ;).
If you have a question about legal issues relating to online business and you can't find anyone to help; you may want to check out these resources I've found during my travels. I'll be updating this list from time to time, so bookmark this page as a reference.
Please note: All of these sites provide general information that shouldn't be relied upon as professional legal advice - these are just a starting point. Always seek clarification on any legal matter from a qualified professional or authorized government representative.
General legal resources
Chilling Effects. Have you ever received a "cease and desist letter? Are you concerned about your liability for items posted to your forums? This site deals with copyright and the DMCA, linking, patents, protests, parody and trademark issues.
Ecommerce law glossary - Don't know your intellectual property from your cybernotary? This ecommerce legal jargon buster may help you decipher some of those icky terms you come across in contracts.
The Link Controversy Page provides an overview of the legal problems of using hyperlinks, inline images and frames on the web.
ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. Information regarding protecting domain names and about pursuing claims against cybersquatters.
AdultWebLaw provides Adult Website legal information, access to legal forms, and links to Internet Law resources
Copyright website. Everything you ever wanted to know about copyright law and then some! How/what to copyright and issues relating to fair use.
The Collection of Laws for Electronic Access (CLEA) contains information relating to intellectual property legislation from a wide range of countries and regions.
Global E-Law alert - Ecommerce and internet law news from around the globe.
USA specific legal resources
Advertising and Marketing -Rules of the Road. Advertising on the Internet has many of the same rules that apply to other forms of advertising. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has prepared this guide to give you an overview of some of the laws it enforces.
Public Law/Gaming - articles and case studies in relation to online gaming and gambling.
Information on the Children's Online Privacy Act (COPPA). There's also an impressive range of other articles on Ivan Hoffman's (Attorney at Law) web site; including information relating to copyright, contracts, fair use, domain name disputes and disclaimers.
Federal Trade Commission actions relating to operating a business on the internet.
UK/EU specific legal resources
The European Commission. Topics relating to enterprises in the internal market, including; contract law, company law and intellectual property.
Weblaw provides a wide range of free info sheets including ASP contracts, data protection, online contracts, email retention policies, service level agreements and intellectual property.
Out-Law: Guides and information on taxation issues, branding, cybercrime, employees and other regulations.
eLexPortal -Current information regarding legislative and regulatory eCommerce matters across the European Union.
Canada specific legal resources
The Canadian Government's clarification on marketplace rules and policies in the areas of privacy protection, online security and appropriate Internet content.
Australia specific legal resources
The office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner. Guidelines for assisting Australian small online businesses in complying with the Privacy Act.
Weblaw - information on the Electronic Transactions Act for each state, plus other resources relating to online law.
Related form and contract templates
Memorandum of understanding regarding commercial use of copyrighted materials
Know of any good resources relating to ecommerce or online marketing law? I'd love to hear from you!
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In Loving Memory - Mignon Ann Bloch
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