Seven Website Legal Pitfalls

From Businessweek.com comes this excerpt from the Upstart Small Business Legal Guide by Robert Friedman:

"The seven legal pitfalls to having your own web site are as follows:

Pitfall #1. You become subject to trademark and copyright infringement lawsuits for using audio and video content that you do not own or have the right to use in the design of your site.

Pitfall #2. You don’t have contracts providing that you retain ownership of graphic, development, editorial, and computer-programming material created by your employees and freelancers.

Pitfall #3. You become subject to lawsuits for defamation and for copyright and trademark infringement on the basis of statements made and actions taken by bulletin board users. Site owners that have policies of not editing, monitoring, or controlling the content of their bulletin board services are held less liable than those who monitor the content of their services.

Pitfall #4. You permit others to sell products from your site without agreements setting forth responsibilities, warranties, and indemnification provisions that protect you from product liability, tax liabilities, and third-party claims. Verify that your product liability insurance policy covers online sales.

Pitfall #5. You use e-mail addresses in violation of consumer privacy rights.

Pitfall #6. You have no agreements with purchasers, advertisers, and users specifying the law and jurisdiction that will apply to actions involving the site.

Pitfall #7. You become the target of lawsuits by your employees for invasion of privacy for reading their e-mail. The e-mail policy should be part of the company personnel manual (see the form at the end of this chapter). It should state that the company reserves the right to access and disclose all messages sent over its electronic mail system for any purpose. A message should also be displayed on the e- mail home screen reminding employees each time they use the system that it is not intended for personal messages. The key factor is to establish that the employee does not have an expectation of privacy."