Whether your company is launching its first website or its umpteenth, redesigned website, there are several legal considerations of which you should be mindful. If not, unfortunately, your company faces legal exposure.
1. Ensure Ownership. As basic as it sounds, ownership and control is a must when it comes to what is one of the more valuable assets of a company, especially those that operate solely online. Make sure that you have control over the domain name that houses your website, including access to the same with your chosen Registrar, and that it is set to auto-renew with a valid payment. Equally important, make sure that any and all content displayed on the website is owned by or properly licensed to your company. The last thing you need is to have your web host remove your website because of a third party notice pursuant to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), let alone sue your company for copyright infringement.
4. Be Accessible. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does apply to websites. Opportunistic Plaintiffs attorneys know this and have filed numerous lawsuits against company’s that have websites that fail to comply with law. While fluid, numerous U.S. courts and the Department of Justice (DOJ) point to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA success criteria as the standard for sufficient website accessibility. Numerous resources exist to help guide compliance efforts in hopes of mitigating against not only monetary legal exposure, but also ensuring proper accessibility by, among others, blind persons.
5. Pay the Tax (where necessary). E-commerce taxes can be due to various states based upon online sales. This area of law continues to change and, as such, knowing where payments are due can save numerous headaches in the future. This is particularly true in the event of an acquisition.
Some diligence with respect to the above will hopefully ensure that a company website continues as the face of a company and its on-ramp to business development and sales.
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