As we’re often only reminded when something of major significance happens – the Internet is somewhat like the Wild West as regards rule and law. There are certainly black and white areas, though still 50 shades of grey too. Though it’s quite free, there are still a number of things to most definitely watch out for to ensure you avoid the legal ramifications.
Intellectual Property is a specific bug bear and there are significant problems associated with using other people’s content, whether that is images, content or video. The speed at which content and media can get out there is often astounding and using certain content without prior permission will often land you in trouble.
The simple way to avoid this is to seek permission from the person whose image, likeness, content or video you may be using. Most of the time they’ll be happy to oblige and it only takes a quick email.
When you are describing your product or your service always make sure it does what it says on the tin, but never add false descriptions to the tin.
Opinions are fine, but be aware of false advertising, unfair competition laws (paying for reviews, giving the review products or currying favour in some way). Ethically, it’s best to mention that you were given the item, or just not do it at all if you want to be respected when reviewing.
Producing content that untruthfully defames you competitors’ products or their services is a sure fire way to land yourself in trouble and it’s simply wrong. Make sure that all advantages or disadvantages you state about competitor’s products are truthful and accurate. If you do make claims, keep information and proof to back it up, or otherwise you could be at the very end of a court visit.
Social Media Sites
Twitter and Facebook provide a number of rules regarding posting, competitions and advertising and breaching them can mean your account is removed. For a company with thousands of fans or follows, this could be disastrous.
Do also note that the terms and conditions regularly change and so you can even be caught out if you don’t keep up. Don’t lose the privilege of social media by flagrant breaching of the rules – or worse – carelessness.
Be aware of who owns the social media account. Recently in the US there have been numerous court battles between employees and companies over who owns an account and the right to posting and followers. Many users set up accounts in their name and then use the company brand and this can pose potential issues.
There has been no exact decision on who would own account ownership in such as case, but it might be best to protect your social media accounts in your social media terms and conditions, or employment handbook/rules. You should always ensure that to protect from disparagement from former employees here, as this can be something of a disaster if it happens.
Use all of the above to promote your business, but be aware of where the line lies – it can make all the difference in the long term.