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Selling on-line
Legal Issues Identifier

This page is a mere listing of issues and questions. It should serve to get the question-juices flowing for those setting out on Internet e-commerce. It is inevitably a work in progress, incomplete and untidy. I welcome both suggested links and just suggestions for topics which might be included. I welcome, indeed, questions on the topic. It will be updated regularly as different issues cross my mind. As sections grow, they may be moved on to sub-pages.

  • Internet Branding
    • Is operating on line a new business, or an extension of an existing business?
    • Choosing Your Domain Name. National / International
    • Facing up to existing Name Tenants. Should you pay up, or threaten litigation. Can you live with using alternative domain names?
    • International Branding Strategy. Are you ready to face the costs of international Trade Marks registration? Some name protection systems depend upon this.
    • Costs
    • Dispute Resolution.

      How will you resolve disagreements with those buying from your site.

      • On-line Arbitration
      • Jurisdiction
      • Enforcement
    • Other people and branding your site - Meta tags
      • Can you use somebody else's trade mark to attract others to your site? No
      • Being 'omitted' by the search engines
      • The importance of linking
      • Peer linking networks
      • Business databases
      • Domain Names and Identity

        Like and not quite like domain names.

        The net's reaction of increasing the number of domains may not be appropriate. If your are 'fitoux', and somebody else is offered 'fitoux.com' it is not enough that you be offered 'fitoux.ltd'

  • How to get started
    • Are you a
      • visitor (on Internet) or
      • Resident

      The Internet is a different place. It has its own mores and expectations. How you do business on-line will be different, or you will die. To what extent are you intending to go native?
    • Choice of hosts
      • ISP - generic
        • Free space can be fine for some limited purposes.
        • Addresses might be hidden
        • Band-width restrictions
        • Limited facilities
        • Acceptable Use Policies
      • ISP - Commercial
        • How much do you know about them?
        • How long will they be there?
      • Own-host
        • Great flexibility
        • Great management
        • Security is your responsibility
        • Still have to buy connection - band-width problems?
    • Internal Disciplines
      • Back-ups - who controls them
      • Who (precisely) is the ISP's customer?
      • Intellectual property audits
      • what did your site look like nine months ago? When X bought his widget from you, and says your site told him it would do Y.
    • Business vehicles - Company law
      • Limited Company
      • Partnership
      • Loneliness
    • Commercial agencies
    • Whose rights - knowing who owns your web-site - moving on.
      Any web-site contains many different elements with differing rights. Your new site looks all new to you, but may well include graphics and other elements, imported from standard packages, and earlier work by your web-site designer. When you fall out (as you will), who walks away with the various copyrights. Can your developer grant to you all the rights you would need? Does he do so?
    • What third party software is the site dependent upon?
    • Linking agreements - and not linking
      • If you link to a site which infringes copyright, do you infringe?
      • Should you have a right
    • Transaction agreements
    • Supporting agreements
    • Fulfilment agreements
    • Customer agreements
  • How to get paid
    • Visa
    • Debit Cards
    • Electronic Cash
    • Micro Payments
    • Will they pay at all?
    • Margins and Risks. Who bears the risks.
  • How to pay tax (or not as the case may be)
    • Choice of Taxation?
    • keeping your server fast on its feet
    • UK Taxes
      • Corporation Tax
      • Transfer pricing
      • Is an internet server a permanent establishment, branch or agency" - Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988
      • Buy the goods here, send them from where?
    • International sales
      • Double Taxation Treaties countries
      • Non-Double Taxation Treaty countries
    • VAT
      • VAT basics
        • Inputs and Outputs
        • Goods or services?
        • Exempt and zero-rating
        • Where is the service provided
      • When will VAT apply
      • Buying equipment - EU transactions
      • EEA
    • Electronic Cash
      • Where is the promise
      • Who makes the promise
      • Bartering services
    • Tax reliefs
    • IR - are you or your business resident in the UK?
    • Import controls
    • Export Controls
    • Removal of Goods from UK
  • Protection
    • Copyright

      Do not do this without understanding, and accepting that whatever you put up onto Internet will be downloaded, copied and stored on each and every computer which visits your site. Copyright ain't what it was.

      This is why it is so important on Internet for your pages to be updated regularly. They must be seen to be updated.

      People will revisit your site, because what they find this month is better than what they found last month.

      Can your site's data be protected?

      Give out only what you need to give out

    • Framing

      Your site may use frames. You may provide links from your pages. If a new page is opened within a frame of yours, be careful not to allow a confusion so that there can be any idea that the content displayed is in fact yours.

    • Caching

      Caching is a vital piece of internet practice which places copies of web sites within local ISP sites. Such cache's are refreshed from your site at intervals, but remain unlicensed copies of it. Are you happy with that?

      Where a page is time sensitive, set meta tags to prevent it being cached.

    • Viruses

      Do not underestimate the ever changing and advancing skills of the hacker. The better your site, the greater the temptation to hack it. The more successful your security, the better is the challenge.

      Do not be tempted to make the link between your own computers and the Internet too live. Firewalls promise much, but can never guarantee delivery of perfect security.

    • Applets
    • Cookies
    • In-line data collection
    • Data Protection - what needs to be registered

      What data do you, and your ISP collect about your visitors, where is it kept, and for how long?

  • Attracting eyeballs
    • Advertising
      • Advertising Regulation.
      • Is your web-site a broadcast medium within the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988
    • Portals
    • Consumer Credit
    • Identifying where you do business
    • Where is your customer
    • Who is your customer
    • Asserting Jurisdiction
  • Defence - security
    • Computer Misuse Act
    • Firewalls
    • Out-sourcing
    • Back-ups
    • Feedback
    • Identity on Internet Nothing like as simple as is identity elsewhere.
  • UK Legislation
    • Consumer Credit Act
    • Distance Selling Directive
      1. Now (December 2000) a substantial impediment to low-cost e-commerce.
      2. Know the rules, and
      3. make sure that you have the money to abide by them.
    • Broadcasting or not. The word is a term of art. It can mean little more than bringing your message to a broad audience.
    • Electronic Commerce Agreements
    • Particular signings. See now Electronic Communications Act 2000
      • Consumer Credit Agreements
      • Supplier's indemnities
      • Copyright assignments
    • Privacy. As of December 2000, Privacy is now respecte din British law.
    • Data Protection
    • Data Exports
    • Electronic Communications Bill and its successors.
    • Computer Misuse Act

      Licensing Control

    1. Be explicit about the terms upon which visitors are licensed to view your pages, differentiating as necessary between different pages, and also between different content.
    2. Be ready to control spidering and cacheing of private and other pages. Use of 'robots,txt and of no-follow and cacheing meta-tags.
    3. Be aware of technical tricks which can be used to control differing kinds of access to different pages. Your advertising revenue may depend upon visitors coming in through your front door.
Important: Please note that our law-bytes are retained for archival purposes only. The law changes, and these notes are often, now, out of date. You must take direct advice on your own personal situation and the law as it currently stands.
All information on this site is in general and summary form only. The content of any page on this site may be out of date and or incomplete, and you should not not rely directly upon it. Take direct professional legal advice which reflects your own particular situation.
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Copyright and Database Rights: David Swarbrick 2012
18 October 2013 http://www.swarb.co.uk/lawb/ecoEcommIssues.shtml 172 18 October 2013