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Your Internet Business and the Law

With the number of internet businesses being established on the internet setting new records seemingly every business day, it is no surprise that a growing number of these end with serious business and legal difficulties. A common excuse appears to be a claim of "ignorance of the law" or the fact that many are simply unaware of the existing regulations and laws. Sadly, as you might expect, ignorance is not a recognized defense for the legal requirements.

To protect yourself and your investment, it is strongly recommended that you follow a few basic practices and include legal notices in the content of your website. Generally, there are a few general business notices and a relatively short list of legal notices that if included, will provide basic coverage and notice to outside parties seeking to validate (or dispute) the credibility and legal sufficiency of your website activities.

There are a number of ways to obtain the notices and language needed for these purposes. Certainly, obtaining legal advice is a preferred method, if considered necessary. Without going to this expense, many web entrepreneurs are comfortable by performing a canvass of a given website’s competitors. Staying close to the coverage and language of other websites who generally sell the same or similar supplies and services of your site can be adequate.

These should be altered and customized as appropriate to fit your specific circumstances (to avoid potential legal issues of copyright infringement). Of late, there are a number of internet websites who provide notice wording and online notice language generation (some free of charge, some on a fee basis). And of course there are software products available for this purpose as well.

As a basic primer into the notices needed, below is a representative sampling of those needed:

General Category Notices:

Contact Information / Contact Us: Websites should contain a webpage which identifies various means to contact the company. These include valid email addresses and phone numbers. The new CAN/SPAM requirements stipulate that a full physical address be included as well.

About / About Us: Websites should contain a webpage which identifies the general company information, including ownership information, historic perspective of the company, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions / FAQ’s: Websites should contain a webpage which contains a listing of the most commonly asked questions regarding interacting with the given business. This page is entirely optional, but can substantially reduce numbers of inquiries and questions by making this information readily available to potential customers in advance.

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