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How the Current Sales Tax War Involving Amazon May Affect All Ecommerce Websites

Related link:  SaaS Lawyer and big box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target are locked in an all-out war over the collection of sales taxes. And cash-strapped states are also backing changes in sales tax laws in more than a dozen states.

If you're a small ecommerce website, you're relegated to observe the struggle from the sidelines. Nevertheless, the impact of these changes on you could be huge.

You need to stay on top of these developments. Read my article: How the Current Sales Tax War Involving Amazon May Affect All Ecommerce Websites.

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Are You Liable For Your Affiliates' Trademark Infringement With Sponsored Ads?

Related Link:  SaaS Agreement

You're an online retailer, and you've got a network of affiliates that may purchase keyword ads using a competitor's trademark.

Does this amount to trademark infringement, and if so, will you be held liable for your affiliates' infringement?

Learn more; read my article Web Marketers – Are You Liable For Your Affiliates' Trademark Infringement With Sponsored Keyword Ads?


SaaS Webmasters: What To Do When Law Enforcement Demands Archived Email?

Related link: Website Legal Forms Generator

If you're a SaaS business that archives email from your users, it's not a question of if, but when, a government official wants a copy of some of your user's email.

You're caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.  Critical questions arise: What are your legal obligations, and what are your rights? How do you protect yourself from liability?

Learn how to protect yourself by reading my article SaaS Webmasters - What To Do When Law Enforcement Demands Archived Email?



SaaS Attorney Chip Cooper Explains What Net Neutrality Means For SaaS Websites

Related link:  SaaS Attorney

If you operate a SaaS website that provides streaming content, you should be tuned in to the net neutrality debate.

How the net neutrality debate plays out over time may significantly affect your business and pocket book.

To cut through the confusion surrounding net neutrality, read my article:  What Every SaaS Website Should Know About Net Neutrality.


FTC Extends Deadline For Privacy Report Comments

Related Link:  Website Legal Forms

The Federal trade commission announced that the original deadline – originally January 31 – has now been extended to February 18 for replies to its “Do Not Track” initiative.

The reason for the extension is that a number of organizations have requested additional time to respond due to the complex issues involved.

For additional information read my article FTC's "Do Not Track" Initiative Portends Major Impact on Online Advertising .




Does Your SaaS Agreement Violate the New Restore Online Shopper's Confidence Act?

Related Link:  SaaS Agreement

President Obama signed the Restore Online Shopper's Confidence Act (ROSCA) that regulates credit and debit card data pass transactions, online post-transaction third party sales, and negative option billing plans.

The scary thing for SaaS webmasters is that it's effective immediately - there's no waiting period.

If your site markets to consumers under a SaaS agreement (software as a service), you should review your agreement and marketing practices immediately or risk legal action for unfair business practices by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or state Attorneys General.

ROSCA is explained in my article Does Your SaaS Agreement Violate the New Restore Online Shopper's Confidence Act?

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9th Circuit Ruling in MDY v. Blizzard Continues Trend Supporting Software Licenses

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision in December in the case of MDY v. Blizzard that is consistent with its ruling last year in the Vernor v. AutoDesk case – that software licensees are licensees, not owners of copies of software.

In terms of copyright law, the key issue here involves the first sale doctrine.  The first sale doctrine holds that the owner of a copy of a copyrighted work may freely transfer it (by sale or gift) without permission from the copyright owner.  For example, when you purchase a copy of a book, you’re the owner of the copy (not of the copyright), and the first sale doctrine authorizes you to resell the copy, for example, on eBay.

The first sale doctrine is one of the key reasons that software is licensed and not sold (like a book).  With licenses, the seller has the opportunity to restrict transfers, and to impose other restrictions.

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2011 Resolution - Review Your Website Privacy Policy... Before It's Too Late

Related link:  Website Legal Forms Generator

Typical New Year’s resolutions include improving physical fitness… or taming the bulge.  These are all worthwhile.  However, if you operate a SaaS or ecommerce website, you’d better move a review of your privacy policy to the top of your list. 

Recent legal developments regarding privacy and data security have added new requirements, and the failure to comply could result in substantial liability.

A review at this time is particularly warranted for SaaS sites because privacy and data security is of paramount importance to customers. 

Read my article:  2011 Resolution - Review Your Website Privacy Policy... Before It's Too Late .



FTC's "Do Not Track" Initiative Portends Major Impact on Online Advertising

Related Link:  Website Legal Forms Generator

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) publication earlier this month of a proposed framework for protecting online privacy portends a major impact on online advertising.  If your website’s business model depends on advertising revenue, either directly from the site itself or via a smart, mobile device, you have a big stake in the outcome of the dialogue kicked off by the FTC report.

The FTC report suggests implementation of a Do Not Track mechanism – similar conceptually to the current Do Not Call list regarding annoying telemarketing calls - that would enable consumers to block the collection of online browsing data.  Do Not Track, if implemented, will dramatically change the rules of the road regarding Internet advertising – with a potentially huge impact on relatively smaller websites that publish free content supported by behavioral ads.

Read my article:  FTC's “Do Not Track” Initiative Portends Major Impact on Online Advertising

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3 CAN-SPAM Gotcha's That Every Email Marketer Should Avoid

Related Link:  Internet Legal Compliance

Experienced email marketers often operate under the misconception that the CAN-SPAM Act doesn't apply to most routine business communications. With CAN-SPAM Act fines of up to $16,000 per violation, this misconception could add up to a big number.

That's why email marketers should avoid 3 gotcha's that are CAN-SPAM traps for the unwary.

For more information regardng these gotcha's and how to avoid them, read my article: 3 CAN-SPAM Gotcha's That Every Email Marketer Should Avoid.



Website Legal Compliance for Blog Sites Now More Risky Than Ever

Related Link:  Website Legal Compliance

Unfulfilled promises by blog site personnel to remove objectionable materials from blogs continue to create headaches - and increased legal exposure - for blog site operators.

 A recent case involving teaches a critical lesson for blog site operators: be very careful what you and your personnel promise; be very, very careful.

 For more information regarding this risk and how to manage it, read my article:  Website Legal Compliance for Blog Sites Now More Risky Than Ever .



White House Subcommittee Portends Big Changes for Website Legal Compliance

Related link: Website Legal Compliance

The Obama administration just formed a subcommittee consisting of several federal agencies to advise the White House on Internet privacy concerns as well as other issues for the Web. If you operate a website that collects any information regarding your site�?s visitors, your Website Legal Compliance obligations are likely to become more complex and burdensome.

There�?s a new sheriff in town. For a long time the Web was sort of like the wild, wild, West. That changed with the Obama administration, and the pace of federal regulation of online businesses will continue at an increasing rate.

We saw the beginning of stepped-up federal regulation when the Federal Trade Commission announced its Guide Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials late last year. Since then we�?ve seen a couple of bills introduced in the House on Internet Privacy �? and a Senate bill aimed at post transaction sales and recurring charges.

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Critical Lessons From FTC's 1st Action Based on FTC Guides

Related link: FTC Website Forms

The Federal Trade Commission's recent settlement with Reverb Communications is the FTC's first case targeting deceptive advertising on the Internet since the FTC Guides were announced late .

If you use online endorsements or testimonials from others, you should review your internal marketing policies and your FTC website forms to avoid substantial liability for deceptive advertising.

For a summary of important lessons from the FTC, read my article: Critical Lessons for Your FTC Website Forms From FTC Settlement With Reverb Communications.



Flash Cookies Trigger Privacy Suits Against Online Marketers

Related link: Website Legal Forms

The use of Flash cookies capable of re-installing browser tracking cookies - that users have previously deleted - has triggered the filing of multiple privacy lawsuits against some of the Web’s largest media companies.

Issues raised in these lawsuits take behavioral advertising privacy concerns to a whole new level, particularly for sites that participate in ad networks that use Flash cookies.

And if your site participates in an ad network that uses Flash cookies, you’d better have full disclosure in your Privacy Policy, or face the consequences.

Read my article Flash Cookies Trigger Privacy Suits Against Online Marketers .


2 Critical Requirements for Enforceable Online Recurring Billing Agreements

Related Link: Website Legal Documents

If your site incorporates (or if you're planning to incorporate) a recurring billing model - where customers' credit cards are charged periodically - you should understand that the recurring payment model is under intense scrutiny by Congress and various courts.

The details of how you present the offer and contract terms are very important.

In a recent opinion affirming the enforceability of an of an online contract for recurring billing, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals analyzed the facts and applicable law for two critical requirements for enforceability.

For a summary of these 2 important requirements and a brief discussion of related legislation pending in the U.S. Congress, read my article: 2 Critical Requirements for Enforceable Online Recurring Billing Agreements .



De-Mystifying SaaS Reseller Models

Related Link: SaaS Reseller Agreement

Several clients have recommended Dan Roam's international best seller, The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures .

I recommend it, too.

I've found Dan's ideas helpful in working with clients regarding SaaS distribution models, which are really abstract. Although I don't use napkins, a diagram of a SaaS distribution model on a legal pad really communicates.

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FTC Guides Disclosures: I do not have a material relationship with anyone regarding this book. I do not receive any compensation for my recommendation.

9th Circuit Rules in Favor of Software Companies Regarding Re-Sales by Licensees

Related link: Website Legal Forms

Earlier this month, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Autodesk in the long-awaited decision in the Vernor v. Autodesk case. At issue was the right of Autodesk�?s licensees to re-sell copies of the Autodesk software previously acquired under a �?license�? agreement from Autodesk.

The basic issue in the case was whether the transaction with the licensees was legally deemed to be a license or a sale of a copy of the software under copyright law.

* If a sale of a copy, the purchaser may resell the copy without restriction (this is called the �?First Sale Doctrine�?). For example, if you purchase a book (a copy of a copyrighted work), you may resell it to a friend.

* On the other hand, if the transaction is a license, then restrictions on resale in the license agreement will apply.

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Negotiating Your Corporate SaaS Agreement �? Do You Flunk the Test?

Read the article: Negotiating Your Corporate SaaS Agreement - Do You Flunk the Test?
Related Link: SaaS Agreement

You’re offering a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution to the corporate market. You’ve developed your standard form SaaS agreement (sometimes referred to as a “hosted software services agreement”). And you’ve presented your agreement to your corporate prospect’s representative.

Are you prepared for the issues you’re most likely to be confronted with by a SaaS-savvy corporate user - or do you flunk the test?

Read my article.



Harvesting Tweets for Research and Profit - Is it Legal?

Last week, a client asked me about the legality of harvesting Tweets from Twitter users.

You may be aware that harvesting Tweets is on the rise - by researchers and marketers. To learn more, read my article: Harvesting Tweets for Research and Profit - Is it Legal?

Chip Website Legal Forms Generator.

Do Trademarks Always Trump Domain Names? Not always.

Read the article: Do Trademarks Always Trump Domain Names? Not Always.
Related Link: SaaS Agreement

Online start-ups are faced with the daunting task of selecting a domain name that will withstand legal challenges.

There's a general belief among online start-ups that a trademark owner will always trump a domain name registrant with the same or confusingly similar domain name. That's not always the result... as two recentUDRP decisions point out.

To learn more about how trademarks affect your domain name, read my article.


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