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4 Tips for Legal Online Consumer Data Collection

4 Tips for Legal Online Consumer Data Collection

People’s attitudes towards the collection of online data has been changing over the past few years. A 2017 survey suggests that 75 percent of individuals will sometimes or always read a privacy policy on a website.

According to 53 percent of people, it’s extremely important to know whether an app or a service is using their personal data. At the same time, several massive online data collection scandals have rocked the world in recent years.

Providing a quality online service or content will often be dependent on consumer data collection. To do so legally, however, you’ll have to learn how to collect data and what documents to feature on your website or online platform.

Determine What Types of Personal Data Collection You’ll Be Doing

To craft the right online data collection procedures, you will first need to determine what types of sensitive information you’re going to be having access to.

Most often, online service providers work with the following:

  • IP address
  • Internet domain
  • Type of browser or OS
  • Location of the website visitor
  • Demographic profiles
  • Number of pages visited, length of stay on the website

If you have online opt-in forms, chances are that you will be collecting additional sensitive information. When you know what you’re dealing with, you will get to determine which regulatory framework(s) you’ll have to adhere to.

Understand Personal Information Law and Compliance

Online data collection could be subjected to multiple regulatory frameworks due to the international nature of website visits. The EU GDPR is one of these frameworks. The US has more limited regulatory efforts as far as data privacy goes but a few statutes may apply to the work of different online companies.

If you’re based in the US, EU, and many other Western countries, you will have to comply with at least one type of data collection law. A privacy policy, terms and conditions and thorough explanations as to why you have to collect sensitive data are the absolute minimum.

Carry Out a Privacy Audit

A website that’s already functional will have to be audited to determine whether it meets all regulatory requirements. It’s best to have an experienced legal professional carrying out such an audit.

Some of the items that will be examined include your privacy policy, whether opt-on forms allow for explicit consent and whether people are given the chance to opt out effortlessly. Based on the audit information, you’ll get to determine how data collection is to be modified in the future to ensure compliance.

Minimize Personal Data Collection and Retention as Much as Possible

Online consumer data collection should occur for the provision of better products and services. It’s possible that you’re currently accessing sensitive information that isn’t adding anything to the experience of people visiting your website or using your app.

There are things you can do to minimize the collection of sensitive information online. Based on the audit you’ve carried out, it’s possible to identify certain positive changes in this field.

Very often, online businesses gather a lot of extra information that could potentially be used in the future. If you’re doing this right now, you’re only making your life and work more challenging. Data breaches and hack attacks do occur. The more information you have, the bigger the problem is going to be in the case of an information leak.

A final thing to do is to ensure the security of data collection efforts. To minimize the risk of hack attacks, invest in quality servers, encryption, and access control. While there are numerous additional things you could be doing, this is the absolute minimum when it comes to meeting laws and giving your customers access to a quality service.

 

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How to Grow Your Email Marketing List and Still be GDPR-Compliant

Email Marketing Strategy

How to Grow Your Email Marketing List and Still be GDPR-Compliant

The implications of the EU GDPR are much more pervasive and widespread than businesses initially thought them to be. Database creation, information collection, archive maintenance, and multiple other activities are affected. Email marketing is one of these activities.

Maintaining an email list that is GDPR-compliant can be a challenge. If you don’t know how to handle the process, the following email marketing tips will shed some light on the essentials.

Email Opt-in Tactics Matter

At the end of 2017, Forrester predicted that 80 percent of companies will fail with their GDPR compliance efforts. While the number may seem shocking, it probably isn’t that far off from the truth.

Ensuring compliance in the field of your email marketing strategy can be particularly tricky, especially when it comes to opt-in strategies.

Pre-checked opt-in boxes (for example, when a person is attempting to order a product or create a log-in account) have become a big no-no in terms of GDPR compliance. You can no longer do that to collect email information and send newsletters in the future.

You have to collect explicit opt-in permissions from the people who visit your website. Consent should be freely given, otherwise, you cannot send newsletters or other forms of promotional emails. Let your audience decide whether they’d like to opt-in and start receiving emails from you. Relying on pre-ticked boxes is deceiving and ineffective anyway!

Provide Clear Explanation of What People Are Signing Up for

Apart from getting affirmative consent, you will also have to make sure people are informed about what they’re signing up for in order to ensure EU GDPR compliance.

You can accomplish the goal by featuring a few sentences next to each checkbox. The explanation should tell potential subscribers how their personal information is going to be utilized, what type of newsletter they’d be getting, and what’s the frequency of communication.

Get Consent from Existing Email Subscribers (If Necessary!)

In a survey carried out by Compose, 70 percent of small business owners said that email marketing was their biggest concern as far as GDPR compliance goes. Things are most challenging when it comes to the existing database and the management of data collected before the enforcement of GDPR.

You have to account for the date on which a person subscribed to your newsletter. If you don’t know what the date is, you will have to obtain explicit opt-in consent from the person who’s already on record in your existing newsletter database.

A simple campaign carried out via email will be sufficient to notify your existing subscribers of the changes and the need for consent renewal.

The Opt-Out Process

Under GDPR, you also have to make it effortless for subscribers to opt out of your mailing list.

The good news is that if you’re following the CAN-SPAM guidelines, you have already provided your subscribers with such an option. Nothing will have to change and you will still be GDPR-compliant.

If not, you will have to put an effective opt-out mechanism in place. Include a button in the bottom of each email that will transfer subscribers to the opt-out page. There, you can request some information about the need for an opt-out. You will be GDPR-compliant and you will get essential information that could improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts in the future.

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The Most Important Rules of Managing a Remote Team

The Most Important Rules of Managing a Remote Team

Today’s workplace is changing rapidly. A Gallup survey shows that the number of people working out of the office is increasing and they’re doing so for longer periods of time. Employees are pushing for a change in well-established structures and policies that work for the traditional office format.

Remote work certainly provides excellent opportunities for everybody involved, but managing remote employees comes with its specifics. If you are considering the switch and you haven’t come up with a detailed remote employee policy yet, the following guide will come in handy.

Define Expectations in Advance

After hiring remote employees, you will find it more difficult to check in on a regular basis like you would in the case of an office-based team. This is the main reason why expectations and work practices have to be defined and explained clearly in advance.

Goals, timelines, accountability tools, payment schedules, and communication expectations should all be discussed at the beginning of project execution. Giving the remote team access to all of the required communication/project management tools is also going to be imperative.

When defining expectations, you should also make it clear that employees will be held accountable for failures, missed deadlines, and other shortcomings pertaining to the initial expectations.

Do Coaching and Schedule Regular Video Conferences

Keeping a remote team engaged can be very difficult. This is why regular communication is going to play a crucial role in all processes. Regular video chats (whether team-based or on a one-on-one basis) will help you build an emotional connection – one of the essentials for managing remote employees.

If possible, you should also invest time in coaching. Good managers are also seen as mentors. It’s up to you to pass relevant knowledge to members of the team. Pursuing other educational opportunities that will boost worker qualifications is also going to benefit everyone involved.

Handle the Legal Issues of Having a Remote Team

A good remote employee policy should address the legal specifics stemming from this format.

For a start, you should focus on the privacy and the security of all communication occurring between remote team members.  You need to have a strong security policy in place because many data breaches are the result of human error.

Other legal specifics you’ll need to address

  • Following the right regulations pertaining to minimum wage, payday frequency, paycheck delivery, etc.
  • Overtime calculations
  • Whether international employee laws are going to apply
  • Whether health and safety training will have to occur as a part of the remote onboarding process
  • Following hiring and anti-discrimination laws

Provide Constant Feedback

A lot of the cues and sources of information available in the office will be missing in a virtual environment. As a manager, you have to provide feedback consistently and on a regular basis. If something is not working, it is up to you to address it as soon as possible. Waiting will only make the issue more pronounced.

Make sure that the entire team knows the frequency of feedback provision. If possible, communicate information about progress and shortcomings in person. Creating detailed performance reports is a good thing and you can certainly send such information via email. The personal provision of praise or constructive criticism, however, will be invaluable for building a team and making remote workers feel a part of it.

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GDPR: 10 Steps That Will Help Guide You Through The New E.U. Data Protection Framework

GDPR-Ten-Thins-To-Know-About-EU-
The new European data protection law, the General Data Protection Regulation ( GDPR ) comes into force on the 25th of May, 2018. The new framework poses considerable pressure on online and offline businesses of all sizes because it will strengthen the rules under which the personal data of European residents can be collected, stored, and disclosed. Despite its territorial scope, the GDPR will apply to organizations that do not have a physical presence in the European Union.

To guide you through the new E.U. data protection framework, we’ve provided you with a 10-step guideline that will allow you to better understand the formal requirements of the GDPR and the new personal data security standards.

1. Scope of the GDPR

Although the GDPR is a European legislation, it may apply to businesses located in other jurisdictions as well. More specifically, the GDPR applies to natural and legal persons that collect personal data and:

  • Are established in the E.U.;
  • Are not established in the E.U. but cooperate with data processors that are established in the E.U.; or
  • Are not established in the E.U. but collect personal data of E.U. residents or target them (e.g., offer them goods and services or monitor their behavior).
  • The GDPR will not be applicable if you are a natural person who accesses personal data in the course of a purely personal or household activity (e.g., browsing social media websites).

 2. Tracking personal data

The GDPR defines personal data as any information that allows you to identify a natural person. For instance, personal data may include personal names, physical addresses, email addresses, social security numbers, location data, genetic information, biometric data, health care data, and IP addresses.

The GDPR requires applying the principle of data minimization, meaning that you can collect and process only the amount of personal data that is required to provide the requested service.

In order to keep track of all of the personal data that you collect, store, access, share, and process online and offline, it is important to document such transactions for your own records. Also, in certain cases (e.g., if you employ more than 250 persons, collect personal data regularly, or target special categories of personal data) you may be obliged to maintain data processing records.  

It is important to note that the GDPR imposes stricter requirements (e.g., obtaining explicit consent) for special categories of personal data, such as a person’s racial or ethnic origin, political, religious, and philosophical opinions, trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data, healthcare data, and data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation.

3. Collaboration with third parties

Under the GDPR, all third parties that have access to personal data collected by you, such as cloud storage providers, hosting providers, and newsletter providers, are considered to be data processors. The law stipulates that the relationship between you and data processors should be governed by data processing agreements, which should reflect (1) the types of personal data you provide access to, (2) the purposes of processing, (3) the duration of processing, (4) the applicable security measures, and (5) the mutual assistance in fulfilling your obligations under the GDPR.

If the third parties are located outside the EEA, you can disclose or transfer personal data only if certain conditions are met, including, but not limited to:

  • If the third party is established in the country that is “white-listed” by the E.U.;
  • If you conclude a contract with the third party on the basis of pre-approved contractual clauses or binding corporate rules;
  • If the data subject provides you with explicit consent to the disclosure or transfer of personal data; or
  • If the transfer is explicitly necessary for conclusion or performance of a contract.

 4. Consent

Consent for the collection and processing of personal data is one of the legal grounds for lawful data processing under the GDPR. To be valid, the consent should be prior, explicit, informed, and freely given (pre-ticked boxes are not allowed). The deviation from obtaining consent is permitted if the personal data is necessary for performing a contract with the data subject (e.g., booking an appointment, providing the requested service, or delivering a product), pursuing legitimate business interests, and in some other exceptional circumstances.

5. Data protection and storage

Under the GDPR, personal data can be retained only as long as its storage is necessary for the purpose for which the personal data was collected. Afterwards, the personal data should be deleted. Only in certain cases, when the storage of personal data is required by the applicable law (e.g., for accountancy purposes), businesses are allowed to retain personal data in order to comply with their legal obligations.

To protect personal data, appropriate organizational and technical security measures have to be taken (e.g., limited access to personal data by employees, anonymization, secured networks, and encryption) and you have to ensure that the data processors with whom you cooperate have also put equivalent security measures in place.

6. Data subjects’ rights

The GDPR provides data subjects with a number of rights with regard to their personal data. Indicate in your privacy policy those rights, and give instructions on how data subjects can exercise them. Such rights include:

  • The right to access personal data (e.g., getting a list of personal data you store about the data subject);
  • The right to correct personal data (e.g., change of contact details);
  • The right to erase personal data and object to profiling (i.e., “right to be forgotten”);
  • The right to restrict the processing of personal data;
  • The right to ask a data controller to provide another data controller with a list of personal data related to the data subject; and]
  • The right to launch a complaint about the handling of personal data.

7. Identification and transparency

Give your privacy policy the highest level of transparency. List clearly the types of personal data you collect, the purposes of collection, the grounds for processing, third parties that have access to personal data, and all your policies and procedures governing collection, storage, and the processing of personal data.  

Also, indicate your contact details clearly in your privacy policy, including the email and post addresses that can be used by data subjects to contact you with regard to personal data. Also, mention the timeframe in which you will respond to the data subject’s inquiries.

8. Children

The GDPR prohibits the collection and processing of children’s personal data without obtaining a parental or guardian consent in advance. In order to comply with this requirement, consider putting systems in place to verify individuals’ ages and to obtain the requested consent. Also, provide parents or guardians with the opportunity to request the erasure of children’s personal data that has been obtained without their consent.

9. Data breaches

The GDPR puts in place strict guidelines for reporting security breaches that affect personal data. In a nutshell, you have to inform the supervisory authority within 72 hours from the moment you become aware of a breach, and then provide details about the affected personal data. Should a data breach occur in data processors’ systems, the data processors have to immediately notify you. Make sure that you have the right procedures in place to detect, report, and investigate a data breach.

10. Data Protection Officer (DPO)

You can voluntarily appoint a DPO as a person who will assist you in complying with the GDPR, as well as tracking and documenting the transactions involving personal data within your organization. The GDPR explicitly requires appointing a DPO if:

  • Your business relies mainly on processing of personal data on a large scale;
  • You process special categories of personal data on a large scale.
  • The processing of personal data may cause a threat to rights and freedoms of data subjects; or
  • You are a public body or authority.
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Do I Need A Freelancer Agreement?

Freelancer Agreement

Do I Need A Freelancer Agreement?

We’re living in the age of the gig economy, and the solo-prenuer is its champion.  More and more Americans are kissing the 9-to-5 day at the office goodbye and putting their creative passions to work on a project-by-project basis instead.

It’s an exciting time to be an independent worker. But because freelancers are on their own, they must be their own best advocate when it comes to administrative responsibilities.  Without the benefits of a human resources manager or accounts payable team, it is imperative that today’s freelancer enter into an enforceable written agreement with each new client in order protect their interests and get paid.  While these types of contracts may vary from industry to industry, below are some basic recommendations as to what should be included in a freelancer agreement. 

Rates or fees for services:  

Most freelancers have at least one story about the time that they didn’t get paid for the work they completed and how they wished they had a signed a freelancer agreement. Regardless of the type of work requested, it’s important to include a section on pricing and payment schedules. Make hourly rates and flat-fee costs clear. If charging by the hour, consider including a minimum and maximum work-hour clause. For example, “Project Artwork won’t take less than hours and no more than Y.” The X is for the freelancer’s security – these hours will be billed even if the project finishes early. The Y is for the client’s security. The client will pay no more than Y no matter how long the job takes.  Spell out a payment schedule, too. Explain whether payment will be made by check, PayPal, or credit card. Without explaining pricing and payment, freelancers run the risk that a client might misunderstand how much he owes, or worse, debates paying the full price at the end of the project.

Deliverables:

Deadlines are important to clients, and having an agreed-upon delivery date in advance for the completed project and/or stages of the work can thwart potential frustration and disconnects. Expect the unexpected, and factor in a cushion of extra days—or even a week—longer than anticipated to help alleviate stress. And if the extra time is not needed, then turning in a project early impresses clients and may lead to more assignments.

Revision limits:

Savvy freelancers know the dangers of “scope creep” and take care to limit the number of revisions they will complete.  It’s natural that, from time to time, clients will request changes to draft work, and that’s okay. But without specifying limits upfront, a project may take far longer than expected. This decreases profit margins, impacts work on other projects and may cause a freelancer to turn down new assignments.  To keep expectations clear, offer one or two revision rounds as part of the fee, and bill anything above and beyond that as extra.

Confidentiality:

If a freelancer or contractor is going to have access to secret company information, include a confidentiality or non-disclosure clause in the agreement.  Many clients will require this. These clauses provide penalties for breaching company privacy or using the company’s own trade-secrets against it.

Cancellation clauses:

Freelancers and clients enter into agreements with the goal that everything will go as planned. But life sometimes gets in the way. Include a provision explaining what happens if the freelancer or the client cancels the project before it becomes due. The point is to deliver some form of compensation on the work that the freelancer has done but won’t be put to use.

Copyrights:

There are different copyright options available depending on the type of freelance work. Writers have the most copyright options such as first serial rights, print rights, electronic rights, and several others. For most freelancers, it boils down to owning the rights until the final payment is made. Copyrighting work is a must to avoid having a client run away without paying or using the work without permission. But it’s also a form of protection for the client. If they have made full payment, they have already bought the copyrights and should expect to not find the work done anywhere elsewhere.

Find better clients:

Finally, freelancers find and keep better clients when they put their agreements in writing. Prospective clients recognize professional freelancers and respect that they command professional rates. A written agreement also helps to weed out low-payers and contract-shy, suspect clients. While creating a contract might seem like a formality, in the long-run it helps build a better reputation and relationships: as soon as a freelancer makes it a habit to engage prospects with a written set of do’s and don’ts, he begins to attract higher quality, higher paying clients.

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What Is DMCA And Does It Apply To My Business?

DMCA-DMCA-RIghts

What Is DMCA And Does It Apply To My Business?

If you are more or less aware of digital trends and developments, you have probably heard about the war that Taylor Swift declared on YouTube. This is one of the most prominent examples of a DMCA claim and its consequences.

To get a better idea of how DMCA applies to your business, it’s important to take a look at the definition and the current DMCA laws.

What is the DMCA: A Quick Overview

DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Enacted by Congress in 1998, the act was one of the biggest modifications to the US Copyright Act. Such changes were needed to protect intellectual property (copyright) in the face of new interactions stemming from the use of internet-based communication channels.

Having a DMCA policy on one’s website is a really good idea. Very often, it’s not featured individually but rather included in the website’s terms and conditions. (See here for questions about Website Terms and Conditions) The clause outlines how the company will respond to take-down notices for the removal of copyrighted material from the website. 

Standard DMCA policies provide information about what a copyright infringement is, how a claim can be filed in the case of a DMCA violation, and what information a claim should include.

Protecting Your Own Copyrighted Work:

When looking at what a DMCA is, it’s also important to point out that it protects your intellectual property against copyright infringement. If you discover that somebody has been using your content without permission, you can file a DMCA claim. A DMCA notice needs to be filled out correctly in order to be valid. DMCA law suggests that the notice should feature the following elements:

  • The physical or electronic signature of the copyright holder
  • Identification of the copyrighted work and the infringement that has occurred, as well as the place where the copyrighted work has been published (a website, YouTube video, social media post, etc.)
  • The contact information of the copyright holder
  • A statement on behalf of the copyright holder that explains the respective use has not been authorized
  • A signed statement that the information included in the DMCA claim is accurate

The Importance of Ensuring DMCA Compliance:

Due to the fact that more and more online platforms allow for user-generated content to be uploaded, DMCA claims are proliferating. A part of the DMCA policy is to offer the platform protection against claims that result from content uploaded by a third party.

Take-down letters can still be sent to website owners for the purpose of removing the copyrighted material. The online platform, however, is exempted from liability whenever there’s no knowledge or intentional abuse that the material was copyrighted by someone else.

Both copyright owners and web service providers can find it difficult to navigate the DMCA clauses. In such instances, a consultation with an experienced legal professional will be of paramount importance. Through a legal consultation, both copyright protection and DMCA exemptions will be explained and understood much better.

If you don’t know how to address copyright issues or how to craft a DMCA clause for your website, get in touch with a lawyer that specializes in intellectual property. A single consultation will be sufficient to answer your most pressing questions.

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What Are Website Terms and How Do They Protect Your Business?

Website Terms

While most people will skim through terms and conditions (at best!), having such a page on your website is of utmost importance.

The specifics depend on the website niche, the types of information, and the functionalities that the website gives access to. Legally speaking, terms and conditions are rules by which website visitors have to abide in order to access the respective content or service.

Website Terms and Conditions: A Brief Overview:

So many website owners do not put a lot of thought into crafting the terms and conditions page. In fact, they opt for a generic template – a serious mistake. The respective page is important because it can limit your liability in case a visitor or a customer may be considering taking you to court. Its purpose is to also protect the content and suggest permissible uses. Whenever a legal issue occurs, a court will examine the content of the terms and conditions page to determine its comprehensiveness.

The content of the document will vary from one website to another. Some of the most common topics that website terms and conditions may cover include:

  • Content copyright information, a definition of misuse
  • A disclaimer of liability
  • A use clause
  • Privacy policy
  • Governing law under which the usage terms and conditions are crafted
  • A statement about accountability for online actions and behavior
  • Payment details (for memberships, services, in the case of an ecommerce website)
  • Opt-out policy

Reasons Why a Website Needs to Have a Terms and Conditions Page:

The biggest question here is whether website terms and conditions are enforceable. The answer is that it depends on the circumstances. A court will examine situations on an individual basis, which is why having detailed terms of service is always a smart thing.

The page is, in essence, an agreement. It establishes the rules that website visitors must follow when interacting with the respective online platform. When the rules are clearly outlined, abusive behavior can be sanctioned. Such abusive behavior could consist of spamming, posting racist content, copying content from the website, etc. On the basis of these rules, a website administrator can terminate accounts without prior notice. When a website visitor fails to follow the established protocol, the termination clause of the usage agreement can be invoked.

A Website Terms And Conditions Are Crucial For Limiting Liability:

A disclaimer typically states that the website owner cannot be held accountable for errors, outdated information, information published by website visitors, and readers taking information out of context to use it for a specific purpose.

To accomplish these goals, you cannot rely on generic terms and conditions, or on a text that is copied from another website (unfortunately, a common approach that many website owners adopt).

In order to experience the full range of protection, you need a page that is entirely crafted for the needs of your business and the purposes of your website. Working with a  terms and conditions specialist attorney can give you peace of mind and the knowledge that all of the essentials have been covered.

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Best Practices For Your Company’s Social Media

Best-Social Media-Practices

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, the list goes on and on and on. The reality is that the vast majority of Americans spend a considerable amount of time online, so much so that the average consumer is constantly bombarded by information.

For a business, standing out in social media requires some skill, a little luck, and implementing the industry’s best practices. Below are some recommendations for optimizing your online presence, building trust with your audience, and ultimately converting clicks into profit. 

Respond promptly:

Customers have expectations for quick responses, especially when it comes to complaints. Negative feedback must be addressed, especially in a public setting. Acknowledge the hurt feelings, tell the customer how much she is valued, and offer a solution. Then try to take it to a private message as quickly as possible and resolve it there. Be genuine and sincere. And whatever the feedback, always try to respond back to it, even if it is as simple as saying “thank you.”

Blessed are the brief:

The scarcest resource of our time is “time.” Twitter’s popularity lies in its brevity and 140-character limit. People no longer have the luxury (or the patience) of reading a long article. Consumers want brief, to-the-point, striking content. Pictures and engaging, snappy captions are best. Ideas for longer posts don’t belong in a Facebook status update. Keep them for a blog on the company’s website.

Maintain engagement:

When creating social media posts, give people something to talk about. Today’s social media user is looking to be a part of the conversation. We all want to feel included. Ask questions and post content consumers are interested in, related to the business. For example, a donut shop might post a poll asking customers about their favorite donut flavor. Or an accounting firm can upload a screenshot from a scary movie and write below, “Don’t be afraid this tax season. Come visit us at Acme CPA.” Engagement can be about news, the company’s industry, photos, info-graphics, promotions or questions. The options are endless.

Call-to-action:

Regularly posting on social media and engaging with customers on social media is a great place to start. But to really see success, companies should be providing users with information on the right action to take, based on your post. That could be as simple as asking them to share, retweet, or comment. Or maybe ask that they try a featured product, or directing them to the company website. Whatever it is, be sure include a call-to-action on social media posts. Let consumers use their network to expand the organic reach of social media. Give them a reason to mention the company brand and refer others to the business.

Respect intellectual property rights:

From a practical perspective, organizations should be mindful and vigilant that content being posted does not accidentally infringe on another person’s intellectual property rights. This could expose even the smallest mom-and-pop store to legal liability. Nevertheless, copyright laws allow for the “fair use” of copyrighted material without securing the owner’s permission. This type of exception allows anyone to use the copyrighted material of another for use such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. However, the first factor used to determine whether the use of another’s copyright falls under this exception is whether the use is for commercial vs. non-profit educational purposes. Accordingly, businesses should be careful relying on the protection of fair use when using another’s copyright.

Automation:

Running a social media program can be incredibly time-consuming, but one way to save time is to automate parts of the process. Even small businesses and start-ups can pre-schedule social-media message and posts and re-share content at optimal times. There are several free and inexpensive programs available.

Behind-the-scenes insights build connection: 

A great benefit of social media is that it allows the audience to get real-time access as to what it’s like to be a part of the company. This type of intimacy helps boost loyalty, which is turn, boosts sales. Consider posting about office dress up days, major milestones, job postings, events, and fun, goofy comments made around the water cooler. 

Consistency is key:

Finally, social media is a social endeavor in and of itself. A company’s team should be involved in the conversations, but publicly it should speak with one voice. Limit the number of people with access to the social media platforms. And anytime someone with access leaves, immediately change the passwords.  Because while it’s great to give life to a brand on social media, once something is posted, it can never be truly deleted.

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How to Protect Your Online Intellectual Property?

Protecting Online Property

How to Protect Your Online Intellectual Property?

Does this scenario sound familiar – you’re browsing Facebook and you suddenly see a video that you made for your website, but it’s published by somebody else who claims that they created it? Copyright infringement in the digital realm is an incredibly common occurrence, and most content creators have had some experience with it.

There’s still a common belief that if something has been published online, it’s free to copy and use. This is not the case. If you’re wondering how to copyright website content, the following guide will acquaint you with the essentials.

Website Copyright and Intellectual Property Laws

To protect website content, you’ll first have to understand whether there are legal provisions for creators like you.

Copyright protection arises as soon as a creator finishes working on the respective work. There doesn’t have to be a copyright symbol for intellectual property laws to become enforceable. These laws also apply to all content types in the digital realm – from blog posts and complicated infographics, to interactive multimedia and pictures.

It’s illegal for somebody to just take your content and publish it on another website.

The same applies to non-digital content published online. If you write a book and decide to upload a PDF to your website, the book will be protected.

One of the most important laws offering protection to digital content is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). According to this law, all materials published online are protected by US copyright law.

How to Copyright Blog Content and Other Digital Materials

Whether you need to protect website content or copyright images online, the procedure to follow will be one and the same.

While content creators do benefit from automatic copyright protection, a copyright notice that also highlights fair use practices should be drafted. For best results, you may want to have a website footer appearing on every single page. The footer should state the year and the fact that all rights are reserved.

Pursuing Copyright Infringement

Knowing whether your content has been stolen is not an easy task. Often, infringement will be difficult to identify.

Using Google Analytics to determine what your most popular content is, you can perform occasional checks. Tools like Copyscape make it possible to paste the text and see whether it appears on websites other than yours.

In such instances, you will have to submit a DMCA takedown request. Such a notice will typically be made available via a hosting service provider. You can also submit a Google DMCA take down request.

While this is happening, take screenshots and collect evidence. On occasions, it may be impossible to get assistance from the hosting company, or it may be located in another country where other jurisdictions will apply.

In such instances, you may have to take legal action against the entity that has stolen your content.

Pursuing legal action should be a last-resort option because this process may be lengthy and cumbersome. Usually, copyright infringements will be resolved before it gets to that point. If you contact the respective website owner or manager, chances are that they’ll take down the stolen content sooner or later.

If you want to start a lawsuit, make sure that the damages will outweigh the cost of the legal proceedings. Consulting with an experienced attorney may shed more light on the specifics, and help you decide which path to choose.

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Removing Negative and Defamatory Content from a Site

Removing Defamatory Content

Removing Negative and Defamatory Content from a Site

As social media and innovative digital channels have come into existence, people have had to deal with issues like negative comments and even online defamation. While there aren’t official statistics in the US, online defamation grew 23 percent in the UK in a single year as a result of digital communication.

Online defamation law makes it possible to get sued over comments published on your website or social media profiles. At the same time, many website owners are hesitant about content removal because such interventions do affect the freedom of expression.

If you have a website or any other type of online presence, you will have to deal with negative or defamatory comments sooner or later. Here’s how to handle the task in the best possible way.

Online Defamation Laws

While defamation regulations are pretty much straightforward, cyber defamation is more difficult to address. The manner in which online comments are handled will depend upon your location, the location of the commenter, and whether their identity can be pinpointed.

Things become even more interesting when you add the Communications Decency Act to the mix. The act exempts website hosts and ISPs from most defamation cases. Thus, website owners and bloggers will be the ones who will typically be forced to deal with the situation.

Content Removal to Deal with Defamation: How to Do It Properly

Defamation online can be widespread because of the sense of anonymity people get in their digital communication.

As a website owner, you have the right to deal with negative, racist, sexist, or otherwise unacceptable or illegal comments. To give visitors a good idea about what’s permissible and what’s not, you should have a well-drafted terms and conditions page http://nowakowskilaw.com/website-terms-conditions/

Even if the website provides visitors with an opportunity to write comments, blog posts, or share any other type of content, such activities should be controlled via a set of rules aimed at ensuring quality and reducing the risk of online defamation.

The Communications Decency Act does offer a range of protective provisions to website owners. Still, you may experience problems as a result of:

  • Intellectual property claims whenever something published on your website is copyrighted
  • Specific encouragement of the publication of defamatory or illegal content (in this instance, CDA protections will not apply)
  • Creating content that is illegal or defamatory
  • Committing a violation pertaining to state or federal criminal law (especially when a comment or a piece of content relates to either the exploitation of children or obscenity)

Authors are not protected from liability under CDA. This is especially true when the identity of the author can be verified. In such instances, it would be best to communicate with the respective person and ask them to remove the defamatory information voluntarily.

If it’s not possible to get in touch with the author or they refuse to take down the content, a website admin should go ahead to remove the respective text, image or video. This is completely permissible if the website’s terms and conditions outline the procedure and the situations in which it’s going to be enforced.

When you fail to do the right thing, you may face more serious consequences. It’s possible for a person affected by defamation to obtain a court order for the removal of a particular URL from online searches. As a result, you may lose traffic and experience problems with website development. To avoid such complicated legal scenarios, it would be best to address online defamation on your own.