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What legal advice should i seek?

Chicago, IL |

I am starting up an online website in the gaming sector whereby users can submit their own data to my database and other users can search it and the results will show. It will not be detailed information just a name, 'alias' and email with a link to their website. A recruitment website for gamers if you like, however I am unsure of the legal advice I should undertake or legal issues I am/will be exposed to before it goes live.

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Attorney answers 5


You could be asking for a great deal of trouble unless you seek legal advice prior to starting up this endeavor. Make sure you consult with a business/IP attorney. You have many issues to deal with including but not limited to taxes, tax ID, licensing, and intellectual property. This is not a do it yourself project. Make sure you protect yourself in advance or you will be looking at serious trouble.


You should budget for IP counsel. There a many IP issues that will be present. Copyright of your software, trademark of your branding and possibly patent clearance as many gaming environments have patents.


Anytime a person compiles personally identifiable information about others through a website [and, yes, name, alias, and email qualify] the person must comply with the various state and federal privacy laws. Including those that apply to children. Which means that you need to have an internet-savvy, intellectual property attorney draft your terms of service and privacy policy and to assist you in structuring how visitors to your site can access that information. What you intend is doable and lawful -- you just have to do it right. Speak with an Illinois-licensed internet attorney. Good luck.

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.


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.
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 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.


You need an Internet attorney with gaming expertise, which is something most Internet attorneys deal with regularly. It sounds like you are not positing identifiable personal information so you may not have significant privacy issues. If I understand you correctly, you are proposing to just have a central depositary of links to gaming users. You will have copyright and DMCA issues if you post content (data) since you know much of it will be copyrighted material being reproduced without consent. You also need to set up a business entity to minimize liability. There are many good Internet attorney in the Chicago area. Look under the Find A Lawyer and you will find one. I do this work, but I am downstate and you should get one nearer to Wrigley Field than Busch Stadium.

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.

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