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Online advice: worth the risks?

Whether you are purchasing legal forms and templates, seeking a medical diagnosis, getting insider information when choosing a school or university, or soliciting the opinions of product aficionados on a prospective purchase, there are many ways to get guidance and advice online - but what are the risks for those providing this guidance and advice?

The website operator defence: will it really make a difference?

Website operators facing defamation action over users’ posts can now rely on the new ‘website operator’ defence.  To use the defence, the operator must comply with a prescribed process after receiving a notice of complaint about allegedly defamatory material posted online. 

The defence follows increasing concerns about defamatory digital content posted by website users – particularly anonymous users.  But a critical question is, just how useful and cost effective will the new defence be in practice?

What’s new?

10 key facts about English contract law

Contracts occur in every business. It might be as simple as the agreement with the milkman to deliver the milk and your obligation to pay for it, or it might be an order you made with a major supplier. There is one thing which you can be certain of, which is that you don’t want to find out there is a problem with your contract when you are walking through the door of a courthouse with a disgruntled person on the other side.

Cancellation conundrums: distance sales of goods and services

The Distance Selling Regulations contain an intricate set of rules concerning the cancellation, by consumers, of distance contracts for the supply of goods. A different set of rules concerns the cancellation of distance contracts for the supply of services. But nowhere in the Regulations is there any guidance on the cancellation of distance contracts for the supply of both goods and services.

Customer testimonials and the law

Testimonials are a good way to reassure potential customers that your business is genuine, and your products or services are well-regarded by existing customers. There are however a couple of legal issues you should bear in mind if you're thinking of collating and publishing testimonials on your website: first, don't make them up; and second, get consent to publish. In this post, I take a quick look at these issues and suggest some text for gaining formal consent.

Web partnership contracts involving content-based promotion

Partnerships are an important part of many website marketing strategies, particularly content-based partnerships. Through such partnerships, a website operator can access the anonymous traffic, registered users and marketing lists of others. Just as important, an operator can gain access to original and relevant content for his or her own audience.

Website design, contracts and designer credits

Many web designers include credits ("Designed by XYZ") as a matter of course on the websites that they create. Many web design contracts do not, however, cover the issue of credits. Whilst in some cases contractual clauses relating to credits may be overkill, in other cases they can be very useful indeed. This post examines the main issues: rights of paternity and contractual rights to include, remove and edit credits.

Notes on manufacturing, exclusivity and competition

One of the more contested provisions in many types of manufacturing contract is the non-compete or exclusivity clause. Customers often want to restrict the rights of manufacturers to use customer know-how to compete against the customer. Indeed, they may want to go further than this, restricting the rights of manufacturers to use know-how gained simply as a result of the contract, even if it wasn't disclosed by the customer. Manufacturers, on the other hand, will usually wish to retain a free hand to apply know-how gained in one area of their business to other areas.

Cloud service reseller agreements

Cloud services reseller agreements seem to be in vogue. Enquiries about agreements for the resale of software-as-a-service systems keep cropping up in my inbox, and I've taken on several instructions in the past few weeks. Software vendors have long relied upon resellers to market and sell traditional software licences. Quite naturally, the reseller model is being extended to cloud services. But the legal issues – and the contract models - can be quite different. There are three different approaches that I have come across, and another one that I haven't seen in the wild, but that should work in the right circumstances.

7 deadly sins of contract drafting

Every contract lawyer has his or her drafting bugbears and hobby-horses, problems that they look for – and frustratingly find – time and time again in other lawyers' contracts. This is my list. Not all of these sins are really deadly. Some are merely embarrassing. Some I commit myself, sometimes deliberately. Others, however, carry real risks for clients and lawyers.

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