10 things you should know about ... libel

Webmasters need to know about the law of defamation, because material published on a website can give rise to claims of defamation. Even material published by others on your website can cause problems. This short article explains the key points of the law. It covers the basic question of what is defamatory, the old distinction between libel and slander, the idea of "publication", the question of whether you can defame a company, and much else besides. Learn how to avoid being sued for defamation, and find out whether others' publications about you may be actionable.

10 things you should know about ... copyright

Over the past two decades, copyright law has gone from being an obscure subject of interest only to specialists to a central subject of public debate. This short article explains the key points of copyright law - those which should be familiar to every website operator. Website operators need to know about copyright law because copyright materials are their stock-in-trade, and because dealing in copyright materials gives rise to legal risks. Complaints of copyright infringement involving websites are relatively common; and infringement lawsuits can be ruinous. It therefore pays to be careful.

Don't let the economy get you down

In a tough economic climate, disputes between employers and employees become more common. Redundancy programmes and other forms of employment termination are a major cause of disputes. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, many private sector companies were planning on making redundancies in the first quarter of this year. As the UK economy enters another period of uncertainty, it might be a good time to be thinking about some of the measures that could be taken to avoid employee grievances further down the line.

10 things you should know about ... trade marks

Brands are critical to most businesses, and can be worth millions, even billions - think Microsoft or Coca-Cola. On the internet branding assumes especial importance, not least because brands can be incorporated into domain names. The value inhering in a brand is protected by trade mark law; and it is sensible for businesses operating on the web to have at least some familiarity with this area of law. There are two main kinds of trade marks: registered trade marks, which are protected by the law of registered trade marks, and unregistered trade marks, which are protected in the UK by the law of passing off. This article is concerned only with registered trade marks.

Domain name disputes glossary

From "abusive registration" to "passing off" to "typosquatting", the jargon of domain name disputes and dispute resolution can be impenetrable to the outsider. Worse, the literature is full of obscurantist acronyms like ACPA, DRS, IND, NAF, TLD and UDRP. This glossary will help you untangle the mess.

Introduction to .uk domain disputes

The .uk registry is the world's fourth largest (after the .com, .net and .de registries). It is administered by Nominet, a not-for-profit company based in Oxford, England. Nominet acts not just as the .uk registry, but also as the .uk dispute resolution service provider. Nominet does not use the UDRP for dispute resolution, but has instead created a distinctive system inspired by the UDRP. The substantive rules governing .uk disputes are set out in Nominet's dispute resolution policy document and its dispute resolution procedure document.

Introduction to .eu domain disputes

The creation of the .eu domain was endorsed by the European Parliament back in March 2000, but took 5 more years to become a reality. The motive for introducing a European TLD was to "accelerate electronic commerce" in the EU; it was also part of the effort to promote Community-consciousness, both within the EU and without. The domain has certainly been a success, quickly becoming one of the world's most popular TLDs; but with that success has come conflict.

Introduction to UDRP domain disputes

The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy is the grandfather of domain name dispute policies, having been approved by ICANN back in October 1999. It governs arbitration proceedings involving the most important gTLDs, including disputes about .com, .net, .org, .biz and .info domains. In addition, some ccTLDs registries have voluntarily adopted the UDRP.

Omit needless T&Cs

How many legal documents should a website include? This depends to an extent upon the nature of the website, but just as important are the inclinations of the website operator. Where possible, I try to limit the legal documents to two: a terms and conditions document and a privacy policy. There are a number of advantages to limiting the number of legal documents. Fewer documents are easier to maintain, and users know where to go to answer any particular question they may have about a site.

How can I ensure that my website complies with all local and international laws?

This question is commonly asked and easily answered: you can't. That's right, in practice you can't ensure that a website will comply with all applicable laws. Why not? To answer this question, you need to appreciate a couple of basic legal points. First, a website may be impacted by laws of many different kinds. Second, there is no "international law" of websites as such. Website legal compliance needs to be approached from a national perspective.