Depending on how your website operates and what information it collects, there may be dozens of legal requirements that must be met before you “go live” with your website. Even though you may be located in one small — even remote — locality, if your website receives traffic from other states, you may be required to comply with the laws of other states and may even be required to comply with European laws. For purposes of this article, we here at Revision Legal will assume that your new website is a full-service website that uses “cookies,” collects various information from your website’s users and allows comments. Here is Revision Legal’s official checklist of some of the more important website legal requirements.
Copyright and Intellectual Property-Related
Your website needs a copyright notice. This helps you legally protect the content of your website from infringement. For copyright protection and for other intellectual property, you also need to provide a method of contacting someone at the website if owners of intellectual property — like trademark owners — believe that content is infringing. What will be sent are take-down notices and other notices related to alleged infringement of intellectual property. You have a legal obligation to not commit infringement or to contribute to the infringement of others. Contact information is also required for certain laws that protect consumer privacy. Further, under certain laws, like in California, you may also need to have a phone number that users can call.
Privacy Notices, Disclosures, Methods of Consent and “Opting Out”
Your website must also conspicuously provide notice of your privacy policies stating, among other things, what information you collect with respect to users, what are the business purposes of collection, with whom is the information shared, how long the information is retained, etc. Under various state laws and under European laws, website users must be afforded an opportunity to “opt out” of the collection of certain data and information. Further, some states allow users to demand deletion of certain data and information that has been collected. Your website must comply with all the requirements if you collect data and have traffic from those jurisdictions.
A similar set of notices and “opting out” options must be set up on your website if your website uses “cookies.” As with privacy notices, there must be a conspicuous notice that your website uses “cookies,” the reason they are used and users must consent to their use. Many websites use a pop-up window for their “cookies” notice with a method for the user to “click” “agree” or “disagree” for use and placement of “cookies” on their local computer.
If your website collects any sort of biometric data or information — like a faceprint — you will need a very complete set of notices and consent forms.
Terms and Conditions
Almost every website needs a Terms of Service (“TOS”) agreement. The TOS agreement can be short or quite lengthy depending on the type of website and its purpose. The TOS agreement is basically a contract between the website and the users establishing the rules for use and detailing legal rules such as liability disclaimers, venue for where the website can be sued, choice of law, mandatory arbitration, etc.
Web Accessibility and the ADA
If you have a physical location for your business and your website “drives traffic” to that location, then you will need to ensure that your website is accessible to anyone with a disability including the visually impaired. This is a requirement of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
If your website is for professional services, there may be industry-specific legal requirements. Accountants and law firms must comply with their professional ethical obligations and, often, disclaimers of various sorts are required or certain types of claims are disallowed.
Contact Revision Legal
For more information or if you have other questions related to domain names and internet law, contact the trusted internet lawyers at Revision Legal at 231-714-0100.