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My Top 4 Legal Tips for Online Businesses

woman preparing to look up top legal tips for online businesses

My top four legal tips for online businesses. In this post you’re going to get an idea of my top tips when it comes to disclosures, copyright, and ideas.

Disclosure Requirements Apply to All Media.

First, remember that disclosures apply to all media. That means it’s not just for sponsored posts on instagram but also emails, blog posts, videos, photographs, anywhere where you’re talking about something and you have a material connection to that brand or that business — and remember a material connection can mean you’re getting paid, you’re getting free stuff, if it’s a family relationship — anytime there’s a material connection you have to disclose that to your viewer, your audience, your reader. And that disclosure should be conspicuous! That means it shouldn’t be hidden in tiny fine print at the bottom of a marketing email or affiliate email, it shouldn’t be at the very bottom of a blog post because someone might not scroll all the way down to the bottom of a blog post. Conspicuous means hard to miss.

Copyright Ownership Happens Earlier Than You Think

Next, when it comes to copyright, know this:

You own the stuff that you create by default. You don’t have to register it with the Copyright Office in order to own it.

(I say you own it and there are some exceptions when you’re an employee creating stuff for your employer.)

But for the most part, the default rule is you create it, you own the copyright to it, boom. You don’t have to mail it to yourself, you don’t have to register it — although, and that takes us to number three…

Copyright Registration Is Worth It

Copyright registration does have its benefits for a bunch of reasons. Like:

  • You don’t have to prove that you own it;
  • You can get statutory damages ($$$$); and
  • You can get your attorneys’ fees back.

Understand the Law of Ideas.

Finally, let’s talk for one second about ideas. An idea is just an idea.

Uber and Lyft: same idea.

Amy Porterfield and Jenna Kutcher both have online courses on how to grow your email list. Same idea.

What’s protectable is how you express that idea. What makes how you do it awesome? What makes it unequivocally you? Those little unique factors are probably what’s protectable about your idea.

So I hope that shines a light on my top four legal tips for online businesses and i’ll see you next time.

CONTACT COPYCATS YOURSELF WITH CONFIDENCE

An Online Brand’s Guide to Dealing with Copycats

Itching to contact that copycat, but not ready to go full lawyered-up-cease-and-desist, yet?

In this free resource, you’ll get:

  • A little checklist to run through before you contact someone yourself;
  • An idea of things that you can say; and
  • What NOT to say.

Click here for access.

Pinterest: Terms of Use You Didn’t Read

woman reading through pinterest terms of use

This month’s “Terms of Use You Didn’t Read” focuses on Pinterest and the terms of use that you’ve agreed to by using Pinterest.


Pinterest Terms of Use: More Simply Put

First, the these Terms of Use use a really cool thing that I’ve actually considered doing in some of the contracts that I write. They have a “more simply put” section under each section in their Terms of Use. This is basically two or three sentences that explain the paragraph in easy to use language. You’ll have to check it out yourself I think it’s very helpful for people when they are actually reading the Terms of Use.

Pinterest’s Business Requirements

Next in Pinterest Terms of Use you will see that if you are using Pinterest in connection with a business, you must create a business account and agree to Pinterest’s Business Terms.

Who Owns the Content You Post to Pinterest?

Pinterest’s stance on copyright ownership of content is pretty clear. They say you own everything that you post to Pinterest, but you give Pinterest permission to share it on the website. By posting, you also give users permission to save it to their boards and save that content. But, it’s still yours — the content that you post is still yours.

What Happens if you Delete Content

Next, Pinterest wants to make sure you understand that if you delete content it might remain on users’ boards; in other words users might have saved that content. Even though you deleted it it might remain on users boards because they’ve saved a copy. The ol’ what happens on the internet stays on the Internet conundrum.

Limitation of liability.

Remember my discussion about limitation of liability in my post about the WordPress Terms of Use? Essentially, if you have a claim against Pinterest for breach of the Terms of Use, then the most you’re going to get out of them is a hundred bucks.

Pinterest Terms of Use Explains Third-Party Links

Finally Pinterest has the best ever explanation of third-party content that I’ve seen on a Terms of Use. Usually a website’s Terms of Use will talk about third-party content and third-party links; in other words links to sites that are controlled by someone that isn’t the owner of the platform. Usually those terms of use say “we don’t take any responsibility for the content found at those third-party links or the privacy practices of those third parties” (etc.)

The “more simply put” two-sentence explanation of that section is:

Pinterest Terms of Use explanation of third-party links

Pretty straightforward, huh?

I hope this gives you a little sneak peek on the Terms of Use that you’ve agreed to by using Pinterest.

Hey, online business owner! I’ve got a little something for you. Learn four things that you can do RIGHT now to protect your business online — one thing delivered to your inbox for four weeks — by clicking the image below.

IP Independence: Using Contractors

IP and Using Contractors

Using independent contractors has its perks: an independent contractor is not an employee, so an employer can save by using contractors for certain services. But does an employer automatically own creative works created by its independent contractors? In short: probably not.

Continue reading “IP Independence: Using Contractors”