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Website Attorney: Group Think – Why Some Gurus Break Internet Laws

By Internet Lawyer

website attorney group thinkIf you want to know why some Internet info product marketers break the law and think they can get away with it, take a look at the Eight Symptoms of Group Think. As a Website attorney,  believe these 8 symptoms cover most situations.

1. Illusion of Invulnerability. The marketers take unnecessary risks because they’ve never been caught by the government or sued. Combined with the ego stroking of having cult-type followers, there’s a sense that nothing can touch them even when they break Internet laws.

2. Collective Rationalization. Anyone who warns against misconduct is discredited by the Internet marketers and their followers. The attacks are personal and designed to distract from what actually occurred.

3. Illusion of Morality. Morality is based on whether a launch is profitable to the product’s creator and the affiliates. Something is “wrong” only when a launch flops.

4. Excessive Stereotyping. Anyone who doesn’t believe that “money = morality” is stereotyped as unsuccessful, jealous, or a loser regardless of the underlying facts.

5. Pressure for Conformity. Those who don’t go along with deceptive and fraudulent Internet marketing tactics are considered traitors. Pressure is applied by blacklisting or threats of blacklisting. Commonly this takes the form of refusing to do business with those who rock the boat or encouraging those with large e-mail lists not to promote as an affiliate.

6. Self-Censorship. Fear of blacklisting causes some Internet gurus to keep quiet when they see others engaging in unethical or illegal online marketing practices.

7. Illusion of Unanimity. Because no one publicly dissents, some large Internet marketers that promote for each other assume that everyone agrees with hidden continuity, deceptive billing, false earnings claims, and other illegal Internet marketing practices.

8. Mindguards. The big Internet kahunas serve as the filter for the lesser gurus for information as to how things should work pre-launch, launch, and post-launch. As if handing down the 10 Commandments in stone, these gurus define what’s acceptable in online marketing regardless of legality.

The dangers of group think are exposing cracks in the foundation of Internet marketing cliques as Congress, the FTC, and various law enforcement agencies are beginning to take a dim view of Internet scams that hurt consumers, particularly those involving health or biz opp. If you’re practicing group think in your online business (your Website attorney can help you with feedback), re-evaluate the long-term prospects for your ventures. If you can’t do business legally and ethically, chances are you won’t be around in five years. Whether it is the government or a lawsuit, karma has a way of taking down those who score big at the expense of others.

To your success!

-Mike the Website attorney

Internet Law: What Type of Lawyer Should Represent Your Online Business?

By Internet Lawyer

internet-lawWhen you’re marketing your goods and services online, there are some inherent legal risks against which you’ll want to take some steps to reduce the chance you’ll get sued or the government will come after you. What type of legal counsel should you retain?

Most attorneys don’t know Internet law. For example, a lawyer who spends his time representing personal injury clients or drafting wills isn’t likely to have a clue as to how to protect your interests online. Even most business lawyers won’t know the right answers without you paying extra for them to find out what you need.

It’s like going to a dentist and asking him to remove your appendix. With the right tools and a lot of studying, he might be able to perform the surgery without killing you but you’d be far better off hiring a surgeon who operates all of the time.

If your business is based in the United States or many of your clients live there, you’re going to want to retain a U.S. Internet lawyer. Most Internet law in the U.S. is federal law rather than state law.  A qualified Internet attorney will be able to handle most of your legal issues and then bring in additional help as needed if a particular legal issue involves another country or state where the attorney does not practice law.

In short, retaining a good Internet lawyer is the right thing to do. If nothing else, you’ll reduce the odds you’ll be involved in an Internet lawsuit because of something you did (or didn’t do) with your website.

Online Harassment: New Texas Internet Law Goes Into Effect

By Internet Lawyer

texas

12/16/2009 Update – Please note that I will not be handling any cases involving this law. Consult law enforcement regarding harassment. For civil claims, consult an attorney who specializes in litigation with defamation case experience.

10/19/2012 Update – DO NOT CONTACT MY OFFICE TO REPRESENT YOU IN CYBER BULLYING/INTERNET HARASSMENT CASES. I will not take your case, provide you with legal advice, or serve as a free lawyer referral service either. If you are looking for a lawyer for this type of case, click this link as a good place to start.

Don’t mess with anyone in Texas online.  Effective September 1, 2009, a new Texas law makes it a crime to engage in various activities on commercial social networking sites or by e-mail, instant messaging etc. You can read the actual text of the bill below. Although self-explanatory (to lawyers at least), it seems pretty clear that Texas lawmakers don’t want people impersonating others on the Internet in order to harm, threaten, intimidate, or defraud anyone. The law also covers text messaging. Note that depending on the activities involved, the crime can be either a Class A Misdemeanor or a 3rd degree felony.

Expect there to be legal challenges to the constitutionality of this law. That being said, you don’t want to be the person arrested under it who has to pay the legal bills for that challenge.

H.B. No. 2003

AN ACT
relating to the creation of the offense of online harassment.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1.  Chapter 33, Penal Code, is amended by adding
Section 33.07 to read as follows:

Sec. 33.07.  ONLINE HARASSMENT. (a) A person commits an
offense if the person uses the name or persona of another person to
create a web page on or to post one or more messages on a commercial
social networking site :
(1)  without obtaining the other person’s consent; and
(2)  with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or
threaten any person.
(b)  A person commits an offense if the person sends an
electronic mail, instant message, text message, or similar
communication that references a name, domain address, phone number,
or other item of identifying information belonging to any person:
(1)  without obtaining the other person’s consent;
(2)  with the intent to cause a recipient of the
communication to reasonably believe that the other person
authorized or transmitted the communication; and
(3)  with the intent to harm or defraud any person.
(c)  An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony of the third
degree.  An offense under Subsection (b) is a Class A misdemeanor,
except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the actor
commits the offense with the intent to solicit a response by
emergency personnel.
(d)  If conduct that constitutes an offense under this
section also constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor
may be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.
(e)  It is a defense to prosecution under this section that
the actor is any of the following entities or that the actor’s
conduct consisted solely of action taken as an employee of any of
the following entities:
(1)  a commercial social networking site ;
(2)  an Internet service provider;
(3)  an interactive computer service, as defined by 47
U.S.C. Section 230;
(4)  a telecommunications provider, as defined by
Section 51.002, Utilities Code; or
(5)  a video service provider or cable service
provider, as defined by Section 66.002, Utilities Code.
(f)  In this section:
(1)  ” Commercial social networking site ” means any
business, organization, or other similar entity operating a website
that permits persons to become registered users for the purpose of
establishing personal relationships with other users through
direct or real-time communication with other users or the creation
of web pages or profiles available to the public or to other users.
The term does not include an electronic mail program or a message
board program.
(2)  “Identifying information” has the meaning
assigned by Section 32.51.
SECTION 2.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2009.

Facebook Netiquette: How to Use this Social Media Tool

By Internet Lawyer

facebook netiquetteLike any social media tool, Facebook can be used and abused. Although certainly not an Internet law, here’s a few do’s and don’ts when interacting with others on Facebook.

DO’s

1. Add value. If you think a news story or personal event in your life would be of interest to your Facebook friends, share the link, photo, status update, etc.

2. Be civil. Agree to disagree and move on.

3. Create 2-way conversations where possible. A monologue is boring to everyone except the talker.

4. Treat others how you want to be treated. Reciprocal good manners ensure that Facebook doesn’t become another MySpace.

DONT’s

1. Post anything that could get you in trouble with your friends, family, or employer. Assume that what you post (comments, pictures, etc. ) will be available for the public to view 25 years from now even if Facebook doesn’t exist. If the content could cost you a business or personal relationship that you have or may want in the future, don’t post it online.

2. Spam your friends with requests to play games on Facebook. For example, if a person has been on Facebook for more than a month, chances are he’s received at least a dozen requests to join “Mafia Wars.” Either he’s joined or doesn’t want to.

3. Ask your friends to join causes like “Save Mother Earth for Vegan  Children” or attend events like “Worldwide MLM Wealth Domination Mastermind Webinar.” If you think the cause is worthwhile, support it. Want to attend an event, do so. However, note that many of these ’causes’ and events are nothing more than list-building devices for Internet marketers. Unless a cause is directly affiliated with a reputable charity that exists outside of Facebook, you’re probably wasting your time and that of  everyone you spammed with invitations to join.

Web Attorney: Internet Law Classes

By Internet Lawyer

Given the amount of e-commerce, I’m not surprised as a Web attorney that law students want more Internet law classes. The issue is: where will the schools find qualified instructors to teach the classes? I don’t mean to be harsh but most schools default to large businesss filled with attorneys who bring blue chip credentials to the table but no real world experience when it comes to understanding how Internet law really works. These lawyers are simply behind the times, practicing 1990s law in the 21st Century.

Unfortunately, law school hiring committees don’t have a clue as to what’s really needed when selecting a Web attorney to teach cyberlaw. They falsely assume that big business Dewey Cheatem and Howe must be experts because Fortune 500 companies are clients of the business. Thus, business partner Winthrop P. Buffington XVI becomes the new cyberlaw ‘expert’ teaching as an adjunct faculty member.

Perhaps the only thing more outdated than the typical Web attorney school instructor’s credentials to teach are the books used for such instruction. By the time most of these books are published they’re obsolete.

Personally, it is a good thing because it means I’ve got less competition in the marketplace. However, there will be entrepreneurs who unfortunately fall victim to bad advice from a new attorney who received an outdated education on Internet law and lacks the experience to know it.

To your success!

-Mike the Web attorney