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Alasdair Taylor's blog

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.

Reasonable endeavours vs best endeavours

In defining the scope of obligations, contracts often distinguish between absolute obligations and qualified obligations. Examples of qualified obligations include obligations to use "best endeavours" or "reasonable endeavours" to achieve a result. The meaning of these phrases is rarely defined. What, in the absence of a definition in the contract, do these phrases really mean?

Domain name disputes: expert tips

Domain name arbitrations are cheap when compared with court proceedings. They're even cheaper if you prepare the legal documentation yourself. This post provides a selection of practical tips for those preparing to fight a domain name arbitration case. It covers matters such as the assessment of your chances, the use of preliminary letters, the preparation of the formal complaint documents, and much more.

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.

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.