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Does Your Software License Take Into Account Open Source Code?

By Software Agreements, Software Lawyer

A common software license mistake is to claim that the licensor owns all of the rights to the code.

In fact, it’s often the case that a software application has both custom code and “borrowed” code that’s subject to open source licensing.

What this means is that an application may include code owned by two, three, or more parties…and each has separate licensing terms and conditions that apply.

If you’re a software developer, be sure that neither your dev contract nor the software license you give your client promises more than you have the legal right to give.

Similarly, if you’re a client who has paid for software to be developed, be sure to get the developer to identify which open source licenses apply to parts of the application. Understand your rights and responsibilities under the license issued by the developer for custom code and those granted per open source licensing.

An experienced software lawyer can craft language for your software development agreements and software licenses that are designed to protect you. Plus he can answer your questions about your legal rights under these documents.

Privacy Policy Alert

By Internet Lawyer

Just a quick heads up to let you know that California’s Attorney General has forced some of the big companies (Apple, Amazon, Google, HP, etc.) into requiring mobile app developers to have privacy policies for their apps.
This was based on a California privacy law requirement. The state’s stance seems to be that if you’ve got a website or a mobile app that’s being used by someone in California, you’re supposed to have a privacy policy with certain rights for those users.

Internet Attorney: Federal Trade Commission and Fake Testimonials

By Internet Lawyer

In addition to the new Federal Trade Commission guidelines (effective Dec. 1, 2009) that limit what you can do with endorsements and testimonials, there have been a lot of questions to me as an Internet attorney about other government agencies that can pursue you for deceptive practices.

Here’s a link to an example of a company that the State of New York’s Attorney General pursued for posting fake testimonials online. The company settled last year by paying $300,000 in penalties and costs.

Not something you’d want to get caught doing.

Best wishes,

-Mike the Internet attorney

P.S. If you want to learn more about creating testimonials based on the new FTC guidelines, you’ll want to check out the special report I co-authored with case studies expert Karl Barndt.

Deceptive Marketing Enjoined By Judge

By Internet Lawyer

A software vendor offered “free” CDs to consumers for the cost of shipping and handling ($1.99 to 2.99). However, the fine print required the consumers to return half of the CDs within 10 days or their credit cards would be charged $39 to $49.

The feds stepped in and obtained a temporary injunction in federal district court.

There is apparently no working phone number for this “business” and the website is currently down. 

Note that this type of conduct typically gives rise to claims under state deceptive trade practice laws where remedies can include treble damages, punitive damages, attorney fees, etc.

Moral of the story… 

Don’t play cute with the consumer. Even if they love your product or service, no one appreciates being deceived. 

This applies to more than software. If you’re selling widgets with “free” XX, there shouldn’t be hidden charges or penalties unless you enjoy paying lawyers to fight the Federal Trade Commission, your state’s Attorney General, and/or a plaintiff’s lawyer that wants to buy a vacation home using the money he will earn suing you on behalf of consumers.

Hat tip to the Dallas Morning News.