Great question, and not rocket science by any means. I suggest the follow legal due diligence strategy (please note this is not legal advice, and not intended to be comprehensive list of legal issues):
1) Clearly identify the business model and business activities (seems like you have good grasp of that so far)
2) Have an iron clad master engagement agreement between your company (or you individually) and your writers that protect you, and impose liability for plagiarism and other issues on the writer.
3) Have an iron clad master engagement agreement between your company and your clients that impose liability for false advertising and other issues on the client, not you or your writers. This agreement can also include payment terms and delivery dates of the content you will provide.
In all cases, limit YOUR liability, you are simply the middleman.
4) Address other issues such as DMCA notices, meta-tags, and trademark infringement that could further limit your liability.
I have substantial experience with these arrangements. If you have further questions, feel free to contact my office to schedule a phone call or in-person consultation.
David N. Sharifi
Intellectual Property and Business Attorney
L.A. Tech & Media Law Firm (Los Angeles)
Main Phone: 310-751-0181. Website: www.LATML.com. If you have a question about this post or would like to schedule a free consultation with David N. Sharifi, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.latml.com. This content is a discussion of legal issues and general information; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be used as such without seeking professional legal counsel. Reading the content does not create an attorney-client relationship.
This is about your third question that asks nearly the same thing. It's way past time to hire your own attorney. Only your own attorney can identify and address -- on a holistic, enterprise level -- all of the legal challenges involved in the type of business that you describe. It is a disservice to continue to feed you legal information in dribs and drabs.
The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.
Either this is a very popular business model in L.A. or you keep asking the same question over and over. I think it's the latter, as you seem to pick up buzz words from prior answers. You are very foolish to do that instead of selecting an attorney skilled in this area of IP and internet law.
This is not an area you do yourself. You should get professional help.See the following for some issues you should consider. http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/checklist-for-starting-a-website and pick an attorney and quit releasing yourself here on Avvo.
I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.
Too many questions - seek an attorney's assistance.
This is not a legal advice or solicitation, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consult with an attorney. I work for Cardinal Risk Mangement and Cardinal Intellectual Property, IP service companies, but not law firms. I also am the president of Vepachedu Educational Foundation Inc., which is a non profit educational foundation. I also write cultural and scientific compliations for the foundation. I also teach at Northwestern university as a guest lecturer. I also provide some pro-bono guidance on immigration and other issues through Indian American Bar Association. I also have a contract with Cardinal Law Group, a law firm, for IP projects. All this information is on my profile at Avvo and also at Linkedin. Any views/opinions expressed in any context are my personal views in individual capacity only, and do not represent the views and opinions of any firm, client, or anyone else, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them in any way.
Are You Planning on Opening a New E-Commerce Website?
There is much you need to know as you begin your new business. I suggest you do not attempt to write your own legal policies. This is not where your training and background lie, and though you are probably as smart as an attorney, you do not have their experience.
Below is a checklist for legal issues I use for new e-commerce clients.
1. Business entity - Are you going to be a C corp, an LLC or a sole proprietorship?
2. Terms of Service - This is your contract with your visitors and is the most important item for any e-commerce site. A little work here brings big dividends in the future.
4. FTC guidlines - The FTC has been regulating business advertising for almost a century. All of their advertising guidlines apply to e-commerce sites.
5. Domain Name issues? Is your name available. Can you create a Trademark?
6. Trademark - Do you have a brand name free from conflict? Should you start with just common law rights? Should you register the mark, and when?
7. Copyright - If it is on the web, it already belongs to somebody. Did you buy a license for the images you are using? Do you have a DMCA notice on your web site?
8. Do you need a DMCA policy?
9. Web Site security issues?
10. Do you need and have an EIN? You can get that for free.
11. Do you have employees? - If so you need written policies regarding their authority and use of the internet.
12. Do you know the difference between a "browser wrap" and a "click wrap" and which do you need?
When I discuss this list with clients other issues arise. Finally, I always discuss with my clients their need for good accounting services. An accountant's advice as you start up can save you many dollars in tax that you might not save if you wait to speak to an accountant until your first tax return is due.
I hope this list will give you pause to think about those issues for which you might need to seek professional advice.
You may want to discuss your situation with a lawyer in more detail. Most lawyers on Avvo, including myself, offer a free phone consultation.
Andrew M. Jaffe
Attorney at Law
Practice Limited to E-Commerce and Internet Law
This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. This general information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction. The attorney client relationship is not established by this post.