Forum to help other members and lawsuits

Asked about 1 year ago - Los Angeles, CA

I have a site that provides resources for entrepreneurs. I am considering adding a forum to the site for the visitors and members of the site to talk to one another through message boards. I like the idea of providing the ability to help other people answer each others questions. . What kind of lawsuits could I face with this concept? Is there any way to greatly limit my liability?

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Sagar P. Parikh

    Contributor Level 19

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The most basic and simple way to limit your liability would be to make sure that you are operating the website through an LLC or corporation and not as a sole proprietorship.

    Some of the issues you face are having a privacy notice if you collect such information from your members, a terms of use/terms of service, and dealing with domain name issues.

  2. Joseph Sampson Ford Jr

    Pro

    Contributor Level 11

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You should speak with an Internet attorney to best determine how to structure your business, because there are several options to limit your liability exposure.

    You could be potentially exposed to defamation or privacy type of claims resulting from a site visitor saying something defamatory on your forum or disclosing some private/confidential information. Less likely are copyright and DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) claims, but if a visitor is using your forum to facilitate copyright infringement, then there is possible exposure to you as well. Your attorney can best recommend how you should operate and it may include operating your website as a corporate entity to minimize personal exposure while also considering a media insurance policy.

    The foregoing response is provided for general informational purposes only and is not a solicitation for business.... more
  3. Andrew Endicott Schrafel

    Contributor Level 14

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . What kind of lawsuits could I face with this concept? An infinite assortment. First off, you should be prepared for DMCA take down notices if you allow 3rd parties to post on your site. Second, defamation, if you have one user poo-poo the ideas of another. I could go on.

    Is there any way to greatly limit my liability? Create a separate legal entity like an LLC to hold the assets of the of the site. If properly done this would shield your personal assets from lawsuits against the site.

    Anyone can use for anything, whether or not they win is a different matter.

    You should engage an attorney in your area to draft a comprehensive set of policies for the website.

  4. Bruce E. Burdick

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Incorporate , engage an attorney, and have great TOU.

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is... more
  5. Sreenivasarao Vepachedu

    Contributor Level 14

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Consult with an attorney.

    This is not a legal advice or solicitation, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consult with an... more
  6. Andrew Mark Jaffe

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Are You Planning on Opening a New Social Media 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.
    3. Privacy Policy - Every e-commerce site needs a privacy policy!
    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
    attorneyjaffe@aol.com
    330-666-5026 www.netlaws.us

    This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to... more

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