Website Legal Audit
How to define web site legal audit?
A legal review of a website by an internet lawyer to analyze potential legal issues associated with the website may be defined as Website Legal Audit. As a general practice, the website legal audit begins by analyzing and distinguishing the content hosted on the website and services provided by the website.
Intellectual Property Issues: Copyrights
The most common infringement of intellectual property rights on internet is by “Copying and Pasting”. If the data is not copyrighted it is a public realm, these are the assumptions violating the website operator. So the owners should be sure enough that all their data and information should be properly licensed from the respective owners. A copyright is not competent to claim the image, specified licenses are also required.
The three basic methods to obtain content for the site are:
(a) The content can be created by the owners.
(b) They can use already published content with the permission of the author
(c) They can use the content without permission as well but that obviously be termed as ‘copying’.
Advertising and Promotions
In most of the countries, the advertising is regulated by various Federal / Central and State / Local laws. Almost all organizations let the advertisement to be circulated on their websites. The owner of the website should review all the guidelines for the advertisement to be announced. Any false advertisement can lead to legal liability. The guidelines should be in a written form which consists of all legal requirements as required by various national and international laws.
Advantages of Legal Audit of Website
A through legal audit of a website includes, assessment of the full extent of website’s legal liability, legal analysis to ensure that the website is in compliance with various legal regulations as specified by major jurisdictions, such as, US, UK and EU and international Internet laws, and determining the necessary terms, disclaimers, policies, procedures and measures to prevent expensive litigation. Thus, the website legal audit can provide multiple advantages, such as, detecting whether the website is breaching any laws, detecting whether the website is infringing any third party rights, and ensuring full legal compliance.
Checklist: Do’s and Don’ts
(a) Incorporation of “I Accept” Button: One of the best ways to make the terms accessible to users is by incorporating a click-through “I Accept” or “I Agree” button, which must be completed before the visitor can access the website.
(b) Define the Scope: It is always beneficial to assert the website owner’s rights (including IP rights) and define what all users can do and cannot do.
(c) Jurisdiction and Applicable Laws: With a view to avoid any confusion, always specify the jurisdiction(s) that will be applicable along with relevant laws.
(d) Collection of Information: Always explicitly state what all information will be collected, how it will be collected and for what purposes it will be collected.
(e) Legal Disclaimer: Always include a legal disclaimer to dissolve the liability for the content and performance of the website.
(f) Viruses: The terms should clearly prevent the introduction of viruses and should dissolve any liability on the part of the website owner if anything from the website infects the visitor’s computer.
(g) Cookies: Always ensure that Cookies, which are used to identify a user’s preferences, cannot be stored on a user’s computer without informing the user and without obtaining the consent of the user.
(h) Storing Personal Information: It should be clearly stated to the user (in case his personal information will be stored) that where the personal information will be stored, i.e. either locally, or over cloud in another jurisdiction.
For any further clarifications regarding website terms, privacy policies and legal disclaimers, please feel free to get in touch at info (at) techcorplegal (dot) com.
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Contributors: Rahul Dev