You get the host, domain name and the fancy set up so you’re all done right? Wrong! Little do many business owners realize that you can have an illegal website without knowing it! This can happen either intentionally or unintentionally based on a variety of potential areas including domain name and cybersquatting, trademark infringement, copyright infringement, privacy policies and linking/framing.
- Domain Name & Cybersquatting
Just setting up shop and registering a domain name does not provide legal rights to a business owner for use of that name. By registering a domain name for a business you do not have legal rights to is known as cybersquatting. To cover yourself always run a search with the trademark office.
Trademarks can be words, images, slogans or other devices designed to identify a good/service of a particular person/organization and have been registered. Infringement can occur, even inadvertently, when one party uses the mark of another or one so similar it can cause confusion. This also includes the use of “tag lines” that are prevalent in creative industry professional marketing campaigns.
Copyright is created automatically at time of creation of a tangible or digital work. Don’t copy or use another’s work without permission. To creative industry professionals this one should be pretty common-sense. This is including, but not limited to, language. Examples include: marketing, pricing information, and about me sections. If you do reference, use language or share images of another always ask permission, then once permission is obtained provide the audience a citation and link back to the source.
Along the same lines of copyright infringement, a business website owner can be held liability for contributory infringement for knowingly linking another site that contains copyright infringing materials. Always double-check other sites that you are linking to.
This is just a tip of the legal iceberg for making sure you’re abiding by the law. Take this checklist and apply to the full extent possible. If in doubt, seek out an attorney for help. There are various resources such as The Law Tog (www.thelawtog.com – attorney and business consultant for creative industry professionals) and local attorneys (simply do a google search or search the State’s bar website). Have any other tips or questions? Add them to the comments below!
If you need more help on the legalities of biz feel free to snag my free eBook “The Legal Lens” here: http://thelawtog.com/free-legal-lens-ebook/
Rachel Brenke is the lawyer/photographer owner of The Law Tog, a site is dedicated to providing legal, marketing and biz advice to photography businesses with maximum efficiency and results. Through business consulting services and her published book “The Laundry List: A Mother’s Guide to Balancing Family and Business” Rachel provides guidance in practical ways for photography business owners to succeed.