Is Your Website Missing These Important Legal Must-Have's?

 
 
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LEGALITIES 101 FOR CREATIVES

5 Steps to Having a Locked, Loaded & Legal Website

Is your website a posh hotel or sketchy hostel?

Think of your business’s website like a hotel. It’s open twenty-four hours of the day and anyone in the world can check in if they’re in the neighborhood. Of course, you want your guests to have the best experience so you provide the most beautiful emendations, complete with a state of the art mini-fridge and snack bar, stocked full of chocolate and good wine.

Visitors are elated to check out your digs, discover what’s on the menu, and the limited channels on the television. They’re happy and ready to relax after a long journey. So, they settle in, get comfortable, and finally prepare for bed. Unfortunately, that’s when they notice the sheets are not in any shape for guests. And, is that a bed bug they just discovered?

Just like that, it’s over! All the excitement, fanfare, and build up is destroyed and your posh hotel is now classified as a hazmat horror. So, what do dirty sheets and vermin have to do with your webpage?

Well, nothing and everything.

Like a posh hotel, creatives can spend lots of time working on the glitz and glam of their business’s website, but very little time ensuring their content is protected and the website is covering their legal bases. One reason for the lack of urgency with this matter is due to business owners failing to place value on the intangible aspects of their business which are the things they are not able to touch daily.

It has been my professional observation that even the most savvy business owners battle an internal narrative that tells them that what they’re producing isn’t worth protecting. As an attorney for creative entrepreneurs, I cannot stress enough the importance of protecting your intellectual property and business assets and shielding your business from avoidable liability.

Your Website is a Money Making Machine, Protect it

Let's shift to a more empowering narrative so that you can position yourself for ultimate profitability.

First, your website is a valuable, business asset. It’s a money making machine. Like trademarks and copyrights, a website is a profitable tool that can be leveraged to sell goods and services. Your website’s platform may be used to invite advertisements or sponsors to gain access to your dedicated audience. For instance, how many times have you heard of an awesome biz woman selling their blog, business, or website for big bucks?

I know, you’ve heard the story a thousand times! (And, may even harbor a little envy for the maven who is now swimming in millions.)

What I’m about to tell you is hotter than fish grease at a Carolina cookout!

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Here Are My are 5 Quick Tips:

Business assets need to be protected. With that in mind, here are five fast and free tips that you can implement today to protect your business’s website.

  1. Post a Privacy Policy that’s easily accessible for users to view on your website. Privacy policies are important because they tell your visitors what personal information you collect, how that information is used, and how you intend to protect it.

    CLICK TO TWEET!
    Collecting client information during checkout or e-mails for your mailing list, means that you need a Privacy Policy in place.


    If you don't have a Privacy Policy, and you are collecting emails or have an online shop, you could be in violation of federal, state and international law. Plus, if you’re using third party companies, like Google AdSense and Amazon Affiliates, it’s a requirement to have. Make sure that you get a Privacy Policy today by having an attorney draft one for you or downloading a contract template.
  2. If you’re concerned that someone may be stealing your content, conduct periodic searches via Copyscape, a free plagiarism checker which allows you to check the internet for duplicate content. Tools such as Copyscape are a great way to identify potential copyright infringement and stop individuals from stealing your hard earned intellectual property. You don’t want anyone else to get credit for all of your hard work, do you?
  3. Conduct an audit of your website’s images and ensure that you either own or have a license to repost any imagery. Simply reposting and crediting a photographer’s work is not enough to overcome the bar of infringement. If you really love the image, request permission from the photographer to repost with appropriate credit. Check out CreateHerStock, Pixabay and Pexels for free and low-cost stock photography options. No one wants to receive a cease and desist and have to pay a fine for innocent reposting.  
  4. Trademark your business name! A trademark protects a brand’s identifying elements - think business names, logos and taglines. Trademarks also prevent others from providing a similar service or conducting similar business under a name that is the same as or “confusingly similar” with your own business’s. Owning a trademark is not only an excellent business asset, but it also gives owners the power to utilize federal law, such as the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution system and the U.S. Anti-cybersquatting Protection Act, to prevent individuals acting in bad faith from registering domains with the intent to profit from the valid trademark owner. If you need help filing a trademark, contact a trusted legal advisor who specializes in intellectual property law.
  5. In addition to a customized Privacy Policy, ensure that your website has a Terms + Conditions (T+Cs) page. Your T+Cs are essentially a contract between you and your site’s visitors which outline the rules and regulations of visiting your page. T+Cs should cover your limitation of liability, protect your rights to the website’s content, as well as cover your responsibility to users who use your website. For example, your T+Cs may disclaim your liability to comments posted to your blog by visitors.

I hope that you’re picking up what I’m putting down!

Listen, I get it. I just added five MORE things to your never ending business to do list.

Who has the time to worry about the legal mumbo jumbo at the end of the day? Like you, I have my hands full with running a business, raising my baby boy, and remembering that I still have a loving husband at home. However, having your brand and business legally protected is an essential investment in your business. That protection includes respecting the intellectual property of others and avoiding unnecessary lawsuits.  

Of course, these five tips are not an exhaustive list of the steps you need to take to protect your brand; however, it’s a solid starting place. Having a trusted legal advisor on your team is a great investment in your brand, your business, and your protection. In the end, I want your website to not only be a beautiful example of your creativity, but a fortified business asset that you can leverage
for ultimate profitability.

Now, your task, if you choose to accept it, is to conduct a brief audit of your website and quickly assess your legal vulnerabilities. Do you have your T+Cs and Privacy Policy in place? Do you have a creative commons license to share and use photos on your website? What other legal essentials should creative entrepreneurs have in place to protect their website and business?  

Ticora Davis | The Creator’s Lawyer™

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Dislaimer: This blog post is not legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Ticora E. Davis. It is offered for informational educational purposes only.

 

Jean Coelho