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7 Internet Lawyer Predictions to Help You Prepare for 2013

By Intellectual Property, Internet Lawyer
internet lawyer predictions

Internet Lawyer Mike Young’s 2013 Predictions

If you’re doing business online, here are seven Internet lawyer predictions of what to expect in 2013.

The crystal ball might be cracked. However, if you own a website, it’s worth reading to see where Internet law is heading and how it can affect you.

1. Internet Sales Tax Spree

A broke Uncle Sam will raise revenue by passing a federal Internet sales tax in the interest of “fairness” (Marketplace Fairness Act, Main Street Fairness Act, We Want Your Money Fairness Act, etc.). More states will pile on to pass state Internet sales taxes too even though existing ones are being challenged as unconstitutional.

These are another big hurdle for small ecommerce websites. The big sites (Apple, Amazon, etc.) already have the infrastructure in place to handle collecting and remitting new sales taxes.

2. FTC Makes Headlines Protecting Children and Aspiring Business Owners

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will force a few bad apples into big settlements that grab headlines. These settlements will involve allegations that certain website owners violated the business opportunity rules that were updated in 2012 and the new children’s online privacy rules that go into effect July 1, 2013.

A few smaller fish will also get caught by the FTC too. The big fish make the headlines. The little fish are a reminder that the regulations apply to website owners regardless of size.

3. Internet Marketing Guru Witless Protection Program Expands

Flying Amelia Earhart Airlines, many of the Internet marketing gurus disappeared from the scene in 2012.

Why?

Some are broke. They can barely afford to renew their domain registration fees in order to sell recycled garbage.

Many are scared witless…they are keeping a low profile hoping that past marketing sins don’t land them in trouble with the government and private civil lawsuits. You’ll find them hawking “geolocal” and mobile marketing scams to small brick-and-mortar businesses.

Love him or hate him, Salty Droid / Jason Jones played a large part in exposing some of the worst deceptive and fraudulent practices online. Although I didn’t always agree with the targets he chose, at least 90% of the time he shed light on sociopaths and psychopaths who preyed upon ordinary people and fleeced them with info products that were either stale or never worked in the first place.

4. Stupid Federal Internet Privacy Laws Will Pass

Claiming to protect the Intertubes, bipartisan idiots will pass privacy legislation that does nothing to protect privacy but creates unworkable and burdensome mandates for website owners to comply with. These ignorant pointy-haired bosses will punt issue to the FTC to create regulations to enforce the bad law.

Somehow true Internet privacy protection never enters the mix. For example, congressional grifters will continue to turn a blind eye to federal, state, and local law enforcement searching your Gmail accounts without a warrant. Got to protect that “homeland security” after all by snooping through your email.

5. Social Media Sites Gut Internet Privacy – Nearly Everyone Yawns

Wall Street, and even journalists, are starting to figure out that having a big social media site that goes public is more like a pump-and-dump scheme because there’s little underlying revenue to support stock price.

Existing stockholders who overpaid (dupes) and venture capitalists wanting to go public with the “next Facebook” are going to demand some real revenues as part of the business model.

This means selling user data and intellectual property, and gutting social media privacy policies in order to legally do so. To be sure, there will be Instagram-type backlash by the same idiots who would be shocked to discover gambling exists in Las Vegas.

Yet 95% of users will accept modified privacy terms, no matter what they give away in the process, in order to keep using their favorite social media sites. The other 5% will quit and will be replaced over time.

6. Internet Gambling Interests Roll the Dice

Although unlikely to pass in 2013, major casinos will push hard for legalizing Internet gambling like the bill sponsored by Congressman Joe Barton. Some of these casinos have already inked joint venture deals with online gambling outfits that operate outside of the United States.

The coming year will set the stage for eventual passage of a federal Internet gambling bill. The primary roadblock in 2013 will be states that don’t want to lose revenues from their lotteries to online gambling.

Once the federal and state governments can agree on a system of divvying up the new tax revenue, online gambling will be sold/auctioned off to existing gambling powerhouses. The capital and regulatory requirements will make it difficult, if not impossible, for an entrepreneur to set up a startup to compete head-to-head with these interests.

7. SOPA/PIPA Piecemeal Passage

Hollywood’s trained monkeys, like Congressman Lamar Smith and former Senator Christopher Dodd, will cherry pick parts of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT IP Act or PIPA) to pass into law in pieces under the public’s radar.

Having been cyber tarred and feathered in early 2012, these Honey Boo Boo rejects are likely to attempt passing bits and pieces of this bad legislation rather than repackaging all of it into a renamed bill that will face overwhelming opposition again. Knowing how UnRepresentative Smith and his ilk operate, you should expect parts to be attached as riders to appropriations and other key bills typically pass without controversy.

As a general rule, if an intellectual property bill is supported by Congressman Smith or his lobbyist cronies at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) or the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the proposed legislation is bad for ecommerce, free speech, and intellectual property rights.

…That’s it for the coming year. If you’d like to see how well the crystal ball did for the past year, check out my Internet lawyer predictions for 2012.

Website owner going to jail

By Internet Lawyer

One of the owners of a poker website is going to jail for the crime of deceiving banks who were processing gambling revenues. As I explained in my book (http://InternetLawsBook.com), gambling is one of those dangerous areas online until the government figures out who it is going to license and tax to run Internet casinos.
What about website legal documents? Can you use Terms & Conditions, etc. to keep the government from coming after your website?
The right website legal documents CAN reduce your civil liability exposure, i.e. take away most of your risks of getting sued in civil court for what you have on your website. However, if you’re doing something the government thinks is criminal (e.g. selling fake cancer cures), your website’s legal documents aren’t going to do much to protect you.
Speaking of fake cancer cures, there’s a criminal who pled guilty a few years ago to selling fake medicines to sick people online. Instead of going to jail, he’s now one of those “get rich” Internet marketing gurus.
You have to wonder about government priorities that sends someone to prison for handling consensual Internet gambling transactions between adults while letting a con artist get away with selling fake meds and online flopportunities.

Internet Gambling: Joe Barton Wants To Legalize Online Poker

By Internet Lawyer

internet gambling laws

Will U.S. Internet gambling laws be changed?

Why is internet gambling illegal?

Many Americans mistakenly thought internet gambling was legal before the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shut down the largest three online poker sites this past April in what has since been dubbed “Black Friday” by poker enthusiasts.

While members of the federal government have argued that the April shutdown of internet gambling sites arose from the need the government had to stop internet schemes, poker enthusiasts see no benefit to the prohibition.

These online poker players assert, instead, that online poker is a ‘game of skill’ in which people from all across the nation and the world communicate together in a positive and potentially lucrative way. Hearing cries for online poker’s legalization, Texas congressman Joe Barton is trying to make online poker legal once more.

What will Joe Barton do to legalize internet gambling?

Barton has indicated that he intends to make online poker legal in the same way that ‘brick and mortar’ casinos are legal in various states. His plan includes allowing online poker sites to accept players from states all across the country, but still forces the sites to register with a state, such as Nevada or New Jersey, in which gambling is legal and regulated.

Barton asserts that his plan would allow players anywhere in the country to interact with one another through the medium of poker, but would still allow the states to regulate against fraud in the same way they do in regard to ‘brick and mortar’ gambling establishments. Barton has not indicated that any plan he puts forward will re-legalize other forms of online gambling other than poker, however.

What would happen if internet gambling becomes legal in the United States?

Barton expects the bill to free poker enthusiasts to play online while still preserving state interest of fraud prevention. While pushed at a national level, Barton does not want to force states, even states that have some form of ‘brick and mortar’ gambling, to legalize online poker. If a state so desires, under his plan, states would be able to opt out of legalizing online gambling and thereby prevent residents from engaging in internet poker.

Some poker enthusiasts businessly support Barton’s plan to legalize online poker. Others, however, fear that the legislation Barton will propose will create a burdensome bureaucracy which could make online poker playing difficult, expensive, and tedious.

If Barton were able to pass some sort of legalization bill, critics further complain that not every problem created by government interference in the realm of online gambling will be solved. For example, some worry that the bill will allow American poker players to gamble with one another over the internet, but will prevent internet gambling between U.S. residents and people from other countries.

United States Loses Internet Gambling Dispute

By Internet Lawyer

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has just ruled against the United States regarding the ban on offshore Internet gambling payments. The U.S. is going to have to back down on this issue unless it either withdraws from the WTO (very unlikely) or is willing to face sanctions. Claiming a “public morals” exemption just isn’t going to cut it from a legal standpoint.

Hat tip to Warren Giles at Bloomberg.com