The Legal Implications of Having a Website


Today, surfing the web is essential to do business, socialize, buy goods or services, or simply to get information. However, there are significant legal pitfalls in owning, producing, operating or operating multimedia websites.

The internet and the web will continue to change the way we work, have fun, communicate and learn. Almost everyone, from the big company to the simple Internet user, has their website, a personal page, a profile on Facebook, a Twitter profile, a blog or a production on Youtube.

A multimedia website is a computer-generated work produced from multiple media sources including film or video, animation, text, soundtrack, photos and images.

There are several types of sites including e-commerce sites, so-called information content sites, portals and social or business networks. Several websites are dynamic, interactive and contain films, soundtracks, focus groups and cameras. Some sites are portals that provide access, collect, copy or import information through virtual or dynamic processes. Other sites are social networks that extend through user-generated written content, updated instantly and often created spontaneously.

You have to overcome a few legal hurdles before you make even the simplest multimedia website. Multiple waivers, clearances of liability and permissions may be required to produce and own the appropriate rights for a simple small website.

A multitude of areas of law come into play directly or indirectly, such as:

  • international and commercial law,
  • conflict of laws,
  • telecommunications law,
  • property rights,
  • obligations and contractual law,
  • intellectual property (copyright, patent and trademarks),
  • privacy rights,
  • advertising, defamation, regulation (e.g. language),
  • unfair competition
  • tax law.

Many of these areas of the law are beyond the scope of this article but allow us to easily realize the complexities of using the Internet and the Web given its impressive scope.

The owner of the website is the person who is named as “registrant” as specified in the registers. To verify who owns a site, you need to do a “WHOIS” search on various search sites. A wealth of information will emerge from this research, which will need to be verified to ensure its accuracy. Several site managers can also record various items and even own the site.

The “chain of titles” of a site’s content is set up by the rights owner, the creators and the site’s operators. Website developers and collaborators fill the roles of authors, directors, composers, editors, designers and software creators. When someone creates or edits a text, image or software, they then fulfill the role of author of a copyrighted work. Anyone who provides content, photos, sounds, graphics, music or any other information to be included on the website must grant the appropriate rights and licenses to the owner. If the employees are employees, then the copyrights are automatically granted to the employer under the Copyright Act. However, if the creator is a third party, including a self-employed person, then that person must grant, sell or give away in writing all or part of his copyright to the owner. In addition, since the website is constantly evolving, it is important that contracts contain general clauses for the transfer of the author’s moral rights.

For most sites, it is recommended to have “Use Limits” and sometimes a “Privacy Policy”. These terms of use will only govern the users who have accepted them. You will then have proof of their acceptance. The best way to obtain proof of acceptance of the site’s terms and conditions is to require users to consent by clicking a button designed for this purpose. You can easily create these documents with a service such as Termsfeed, see what termsfeed can do for you. Also, if an email registration is made, users or members will then receive their own acceptance to comply with the terms of the site. The terms of the use agreement may also relate to the dissemination and use of information obtained on the site. A privacy policy is required in many circumstances depending on the degree of confidentiality of the personal information collected. Personal information collected may include an individual’s credit card number and therefore, any transactional website will need a privacy policy.

Some contractual and non-contractual responsibilities are the responsibility of the website owner. The publication of content from various sites may result in third-party liability lawsuits. It is then recommended to have a discharge of responsibility; although in many jurisdictions they may not be an effective defense.

One method to control or reduce the level of liability is to take out an insurance policy to cover the risk of claims. Commercial insurance coverage may require other endorsements for e-commerce, international trade, etc. Errors and omissions insurance coverage is also recommended to reduce liability.

In summary, it is recommended that you hire a well-informed legal advisor when designing, creating, operating and operating a website. Good legal advice and legal due diligence will be investments that pay off in the future.

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