The Internet Is Becoming A Sophisticated Legal Environment

The Internet Is Becoming A Sophisticated Legal Environment
When the Internet first started people assumed that if something was up on the web it was free for all to use. However, as the Internet became more sophisticated so did the legal issues associated with the Internet such as copyright, trademarks, intellectually property, privacy, liability and more.

For example, I have had several of my readers email me asking how to use an image from another website on their own website. They ask me what codes to use to make an image from someone else's site appear on their own webpage. It's an easy thing to code and the owner of the image will probably not ever know that you are using his image. Many people see nothing wrong with this. BAD IDEA!! The creator of that image owns the copyright for that image. You need to get permission from this person to use his artwork on your website. The same is true for all those sound files, designer fonts and "free" clipart that are floating around the web. Someone created these sounds, fonts and clipart. He or she owns the copyright to them. On today's Internet you can no longer assume that just because something is published on the WWW you do not need to obtain permission to use it.

Another issue that is becoming extremely important is privacy and personal information such as email addresses. If you look at the bottom of any Bella webpage you will see a link to the BellaOnline's privacy policy page which explains in detail the care that Bella takes with the personal information you give us. If you collect personal information from your readers at your own website, you need to consider how you will handle that information to keep it safe.

I have also received several emails asking about linking to another website from your website. Because the functionality of the web is based on hyperlinks, it has been a common practice to link to other people's websites without asking for permission beforehand. This is increasingly becoming an important copyright issue. About 70% of the websites that I frequent have now added a special "link to us" webpage which describes the conditions by which they give permission for others to link to their site. If you wish to link to someone's site and this information is not posted, it is best to ask for permission. Also be especially careful if you use HTML frames on your website. Most people will not let you link to their site if you are using frames because the frames layout gives the impression that the linked webpage is actually part of your website.

I'm not a lawyer and I cannot give you legal advice. These are only a few issues that I have personally encountered from my readers. Depending on the nature of your own website, there are other legal issues that you need to consider. So where do you start when it comes to evaluating the legal issues for your own website? How do you find the answer to questions when you do not even know what questions to ask? There are several websites that can help you. Just go to your favorite search engine and type in "Internet Law" or something similar. The website that I have found extremely helpful belongs to Ivan Hoffman. His is an attorney specializing in Internet and Intellectual Property Law. His website contains a lot of articles which introduce and explain the legal issues that have become so important on the web today.

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