Unwritten author contracts

Let's suppose you've published a book by a new author. You didn't produce a contract document at the time, or perhaps you did produce a contract document, but it was never signed. You agreed the basics – advance, royalty rates and so on – in an exchange of emails. And perhaps you've paid the advance to the author, perhaps you've begun paying royalties. You might think there's no contract – but I'll bet there is.

Indemnities in IT contracts

What is an indemnity? Broadly, and indemnity is a compensation payment or an obligation to make a compensation payment. Should you include an indemnity in your IT contract? And if so, what sort of indemnity? Indemnities in IT contracts come in different shapes and sizes. Whether it is appropriate to include an indemnity in a given contract will depend upon a range of factors. In this post, I explore some of these factors.

How copyright protects websites

There is no copyright in a website as such, but copyright will usually protect some or all of the elements of a website. Copyright protects specific classes of “work”. Those classes are enumerated in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. These classes of copyright work largely pre-date the internet, but have proven adaptable to new technologies. In this post, I look at the different elements comprising a typical website, and consider the ways in which they are protected – or left unprotected – by English copyright law.

Product photography and copyright law

There are two aspects to photographic copyright: photographs may be protected by copyright, but may also infringe copyright. A photograph of a painting could infringe the copyright in the painting, and a photograph of a photograph could likewise infringe. That much is well-known to most photographers. The position with respect to photographs of other artefacts - buildings, sculptures, designs and products - is less well understood.

Online law resources

One of the problems with legal information on the internet is its sheer quantity. What should you read, and what should you give a miss? These online law resources have been chosen to help you to research, at a general level, some of the more important legal issues affecting websites and the internet. They focus on English and EU law issues, and cover the following subjects: accessibility, copyright, criminal law, data protection, defamation, domain names, ecommerce law, emarketing law and trade marks.

Copyright licences under the CDPA

One of the great things about copyright is the flexibility of copyright licensing. Copyright licences can be for a particular right, for a particular geographical area, for a particular period, and subject to almost any conditions you can dream up. As a junior lawyer involved in a music industry contract review exercise, I remember seeing a licence in a recording contract that covered the entire universe "excluding Venus". I can't recall the name of the diva who had demanded the reservation of Venusian rights.

10 things you should know about ... email marketing

This article highlights some of the key features of the law governing the use of email for marketing purposes. It considers only the position under English law. Although much of the UK legislation relating to email marketing is EU-inspired, the laws across the EU are not properly harmonized. The position under US law is also quite different from the position under English law.

Legal checklist: user generated content

The web has changed radically since 2005. We've seen the rise of some websites, the demise of others; the evolution of new business models and the senescence of others; new languages, new technologies and new platforms have driven a revolution in web culture; and it is the principle of user participation that gives unity to that revolution.

Contract liability caps under UCTA

Contractual caps on the liability of a business must usually be reasonable if they are to be enforceable under English law. There are various tools the courts use to control liability caps, but the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 is probably the most important. UCTA applies to most business contracts, but there are exceptions (e.g. contracts of employment).

What to do with website legal documents?

So, you've got a new website. You've got some T&Cs and a policy or two. What now? What should you do with your legal documents? How should the documents be incorporated into the website? It would be nice if there were simple answers to these questions. Something like: you should do X with your T&Cs and Y with your policies. But if the law worked like that, lawyers wouldn't have any work. In this post, I'll look at the question of how to incorporate two typical website legal documents – T&Cs of use and privacy policies – into a website.