e-business strategy, it is important to address comprehensively the key legal
issues. At a basic level, these are matters such as copyright and libel; at a
more advance level, such things as restrictions pertaining to the sale of your
product within particular jurisdictions that requires attention. When
addressing legal issues on the Web, keep the following in mind:
Prevention is Better than a Cure
a sound legal structure early on is much easier than trying to firefight legal
problems as they occur.
Legal systems are Taking Hold on
more laws are being passed that deal with doing business online than ever
before, especially in the United
States at the federal level.
Adhere to the Laws that Apply to
can’t deal with the unique legal aspects of every jurisdiction, you still need
to isolate the key jurisdictions for your online business and make sure you
adhere to their relevant laws when buying or selling products.
Why should you address the relevant
legal issues form the start?
it’s important to guard against unpleasant consequences if you get the legal
things wrong or just ignore them. Some early e-commerce businesses adopted the
latter approach, believing that cyberspace was a kind of laissez-faire utopia
beyond the reach of terrestrial governments. As a result, they paid a heavy
Is it not the case that many laws
do not apply online?
believes that fallacy any more, fortunately. Courts and governments around the
world have shown no hesitation about claiming jurisdiction over online activity
– in some cases, even when the Web site in question is hosted on another
continent. They have applied civil sanctions (such as injunctions and damages)
and criminal penalties (fines and even imprisonment) in certain instances.
Is there a pragmatic approach to
dealing with legal issues online?
practical approach is to get legal advice on three specific types of territory
for your Web site:
- The country (or countries) in
which your Web operates are principally based, which will often, but not
always be where the site is hosted;
- The countries that are the
primary target market of the web site;
other countries that may claim authority over the web site and the breach of
whose laws might cause unpleasant consequences. The United States is by far the best
example of this – its legal regime has a dauntingly long reach.