Chapter 16. Keeping It All Legal

In This Chapter

  • Using trademarks to protect your company's identity

  • Paying license fees

  • Avoiding copyright infringement

  • Deciding whether to incorporate

  • Respecting your customers' rights and privacy

  • Keeping on the right side of the law

As the field of e-commerce becomes more competitive and enterprising businesspeople find new ways to produce content online, e-litigation, e-patents, e-trademarks, and other means of legal protection multiply correspondingly. The courts are increasingly called upon to resolve smaller e-squabbles and, literally, lay down the e-law.

Many of the recent legal cases in the news concern the proliferation of content on popular file-sharing sites and other Web resources. For instance, in 2009, the Illinois County Sheriff filed suit against the popular classified ad service Craigslist for alleging that the site abets prostitution through ads in the "erotic services" area of its Web site. The case was eventually dismissed. In 2006,the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sued Craigslist for violating the Federal Fair Housing Act because of real estate postings that contained discriminating messages, such as "No Minorities." That suit was eventually dismissed, too.

There may be some built-in protection for sites that publish content created by others, such as YouTube. But it is clear that those who publish their own information online can be liable if they break the law. A Florida woman was awarded $11.3 million in a defamation ...

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