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Do Your Website Legal Documents Give You Ownership Of Submitted Content?

By Internet Lawyer, Website Lawyer, Website Legal Documents

website legal documentsIf you’re letting visitors submit content on your website, what rights are they giving you (if any) to the submitted content?  Do your website legal documents say anything about this issue?

If visitors upload photos or videos, post comments, or write reviews, can you legally use, modify, sell, license, or give the content away to others? Can you strip out the audio from a submitted video to make an mp3 file or have it transcribed to use as text?

Does the submitter retain ownership of the content but license it to you? If so, what’s the scope of the license? What can you do and not do with it?

What do your site’s legal docs say about content ownership? If they are silent, how do you know what your rights are?

Related Article: 5 Warning Signs You’re Using The Wrong Website Legal Docs

This isn’t an academic issue but one that could mean the difference between you being able to do what you want or getting sued. Yes, website legal protection is important.

Over at, David Lumb raises the issue in “Read The Fine Print Before You Use Microsoft’s Viral Age-Guessing Tool” with regard to ownership and use of people’s photos.

If visitor-supplied content is part of your site, and you can’t figure out what rights you’ve got to those submissions, it’s probably time to talk with your Internet lawyer about getting the right website legal documents in place to give you the intellectual property rights you want.

It’s important to remember that the submitter can’t exceed the scope of his own legal rights when granting you rights to content.

For example, what if a website visitor uploads a meme pic made with a stock photo to your site? If the visitor lacks permission from the copyright owner or licensor to do so, he cannot grant you the right to use the photo because the visitor doesn’t have the authority to do so.

Related Article: How Safe Is Your Business Website From Lawsuits?

If someone makes a claim of copyright infringement because of submitted content, how will you handle it? Do you have a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Notice on your site? If so, are you following DMCA procedures to limit your liability exposure?

Don’t misrepresent repurposed content to place the submitter in a bad or false light. For example, even if you have a license to use a submitted photo, it’s not a good idea to take that person’s photo and use it with a caption or story that falsely implies the person is a criminal, has an STD, mistreats pets, etc.

Although sometimes referred to as the “fine print,” on a website using tiny fonts for your site’s legal documents isn’t a good idea if you want them to be enforceable. Ideally you’ll want to use a font size at least as large as the text in your website’s articles, sales pages, etc.

Related Article: 7 Keys To Picking The Right Internet Lawyer For Your Business

Your website legal documents should also be easy to read from a color standpoint too if you want to rely upon them as binding agreements. For example, black text on a white background is good. Putting gray text on a gray background would likely make the best legalese prepared by your Internet lawyer unenforceable because your website visitors can’t easily read it.

License Your Intellectual Property For Extra Income

By Business Contracts, Business Lawyer

If you’re selling products or services online, you’ve created intellectual property along the way. This can include special reports, eBooks, white papers, software, and even systems for doing business.

Why aren’t you licensing this intellectual property to non-competitors?

For example, look at how Disney’s Marvel division is making a mint with the new “Avengers” movie. There have been licensing deals for Avenger-related toys, colognes, cars, motorcycles, and even “collectible” key cards for a hotel chain.

You don’t have to be big like Disney to make licensing deals. There are plenty of entrepreneurs out there who have the bucks but not the ability to put together what you’ve already created. In some instances, they have the ability but would rather pay you instead of reinventing the wheel.

Remember, we’re talking about non-competitors, that is, people who don’t compete against you. This means that they’re not likely to cannibalize your existing biz if you structure the licensing deal right.

Here’s what to do…

1. Make a list of what you’ve created that could benefit someone else in business.

2. Consider what the type of rights you’d be willing to license. Think in terms of geography, kinds of noncompeting businesses that could benefit, and even foreign language versions of what you own.

3. Put together a plan with your Internet business lawyer to protect your intellectual property while licensing it to other entrepreneurs for extra revenues.

Should you put your blog on the Amazon Kindle?

By Intellectual Property

Internet attorney Amazon KindleAs an Internet attorney, I find it fascinating that Amazon’s Kindle provides an additional outlet for your blog readers. In fact, Amazon Kindle editions of books now outsell hard cover and paperback books on the site. In other words, there’s a huge Kindle audience.

Signing up for the program is simple to do at

But should you?

When you sign up, you’re giving Amazon a license to do virtually whatever it wants with your blog’s content. This includes modifying your content, or even turning it into a book without additional permission from you. Refer questions about this to your Internet attorney.

If you’re running a non-profit blog where you’re looking for donors for your favorite charity, this could be a good fit because more readers equals more potential donors. However, if your blog is part of your business model, giving Amazon permission to even become your competitor using your own content may not make the most sense.

To your online success!

-Mike the Internet Attorney

Does Selling on eBay Make You an Auctioneer?

By Internet Lawyer

auction auctioneerPennsylvania enhances its bad reputation for being anti-business by threatening a stay-at-home mom with $10 million in fines for selling items on eBay without having an auctioneer’s license. The commonwealth is deciding whether to require an electronic auctioneer’s license (with a licensing fee) or to permit online auctions without such a license.

You can read more about it at in Bob Fernandez’s article titled “Pennsylvania takes on online auctions.”

What to learn from her experience? Here are three lessons: Read More