Selling online and the law - part 1 - introduction

Over the past few months, I've been involved in the development of a couple of new businesses selling products online: a toy retailer and a fashion accessory design/supply business. As well as hacking together the websites for the businesses (using the wonderful Drupal) I've been responsible for legal compliance. With the experience fresh in memory, it seems like a good time to write a guide to the legal issues affecting online sales, using the two businesses as case studies.

London 2012 and marketing - don't "medal" with the Olympic brand

Given the profile of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, there will be a real temptation for businesses of all types to attempt to associate themselves with such a huge event. But beware - all that glitters may not be gold for businesses falling foul of any of the myriad of legislation surrounding the Games. One of the conditions attached to London being awarded the right to hold the Games in 2012 was that the organizers had to deliver a “clean games: LOCOG must be able to prevent any unauthorized use of any Olympic-connected branding.

Employees and social media: possibilities and pitfalls

Social media services and traditional businesses have an uneasy relationship. One the one hand, social media sites can consume a huge amount of employee time and present novel risks; on the other hand, they offer valuable marketing and business development opportunities. The risks of employee social media use were highlighted recently in the case of Teggert v Teletech.

Renewing your publishing contracts

Perhaps because author agreements last a long time, many publishers use the same standard contract for a long period. Many years may pass by between comprehensive contract reviews. If you are a publisher, and your contracts are starting to look a little archaic, then this post should help you. It highlights some of the key developments of the last decade that affect publishing contracts, with a particular focus on author agreements.

Unwritten author contracts

Let's suppose you've published a book by a new author. You didn't produce a contract document at the time, or perhaps you did produce a contract document, but it was never signed. You agreed the basics – advance, royalty rates and so on – in an exchange of emails. And perhaps you've paid the advance to the author, perhaps you've begun paying royalties. You might think there's no contract – but I'll bet there is.

Indemnities in IT contracts

What is an indemnity? Broadly, and indemnity is a compensation payment or an obligation to make a compensation payment. Should you include an indemnity in your IT contract? And if so, what sort of indemnity? Indemnities in IT contracts come in different shapes and sizes. Whether it is appropriate to include an indemnity in a given contract will depend upon a range of factors. In this post, I explore some of these factors.

How copyright protects websites

There is no copyright in a website as such, but copyright will usually protect some or all of the elements of a website. Copyright protects specific classes of “work”. Those classes are enumerated in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. These classes of copyright work largely pre-date the internet, but have proven adaptable to new technologies. In this post, I look at the different elements comprising a typical website, and consider the ways in which they are protected – or left unprotected – by English copyright law.

Product photography and copyright law

There are two aspects to photographic copyright: photographs may be protected by copyright, but may also infringe copyright. A photograph of a painting could infringe the copyright in the painting, and a photograph of a photograph could likewise infringe. That much is well-known to most photographers. The position with respect to photographs of other artefacts - buildings, sculptures, designs and products - is less well understood.

Online law resources

One of the problems with legal information on the internet is its sheer quantity. What should you read, and what should you give a miss? These online law resources have been chosen to help you to research, at a general level, some of the more important legal issues affecting websites and the internet. They focus on English and EU law issues, and cover the following subjects: accessibility, copyright, criminal law, data protection, defamation, domain names, ecommerce law, emarketing law and trade marks.

Copyright licences under the CDPA

One of the great things about copyright is the flexibility of copyright licensing. Copyright licences can be for a particular right, for a particular geographical area, for a particular period, and subject to almost any conditions you can dream up. As a junior lawyer involved in a music industry contract review exercise, I remember seeing a licence in a recording contract that covered the entire universe "excluding Venus". I can't recall the name of the diva who had demanded the reservation of Venusian rights.


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