Where would businesses be without websites (or social media, for that matter)?
Gone are the days of looking up a shop in the Yellow Pages. If we need to know anything about a business, all we do is type them into Google or check out their Instagram! If you’re a business owner in this day and age, you pretty much need to have an online presence…but how do you keep that legal?
Here, we’re talking about copyright. As you may know, we’re very active on Instagram and LinkedIn. When we post content, we’re sharing our knowledge to give back to small businesses. As much as we love to share, we don’t want someone copying our creativity and hard work and reposting it elsewhere. And nor should you!
In the UK, copyright exists as soon as you create something. You likely have copyrightable works in your business already, but you need to tell the world about it, so you’re protected. This is because you can’t register copyright like you can a trademark. You protect your copyright by:
- adding a © to your posts
- adding a copyright disclaimer to your descriptions/bios. An example is this: “We are the owner or licensee of all intellectual property rights on our social media (for example the copyright and any rights in the designs) and in any of the material posted on it. They are protected by copyright.”
What happens if you are the victim of a copycat, I hear you ask? By signing up to social media platforms, you confirm you’re the original creator of all content you post. Copycats will have breached those Ts and Cs, so you could report them to the platform. You might first want to message the copycat stating that that they have infringed your copyright, ask them to remove the offending posts and stop doing it. If it continues, you could consider instructing a solicitor to represent you.
A functional, user-friendly, aesthetically-pleasing website is a powerful tool as an online business owner. It’s often the first touchpoint a potential customer will have with your business. And while looking good is really important, it needs to be legally compliant too. The list is small but mighty – make sure you have these:
1) Terms and conditions (Ts and Cs)
Kind of like a contract, your Ts and Cs sets out the details about your website and the rules and guidelines users must follow when browsing it. There isn’t a hard and fast rule about the exact wording, as long as you cover these general points:
- Include a copyright notice (see above).
- Make clear that they shouldn’t commit any computer misuse (such as introducing viruses) and they should keep login details private. You should be able to delete their account if they breach your Ts and Cs.
- Add disclaimers and limit your liability so you’re off the hook. For instance, that they use your website at their own risk and you’re not liable for any bugs they may get.
- Tell users you can’t guarantee your website is accurate, error-free or up to date. You might want to say when they were last updated.
- Always say which law governs your website, which is most likely going to be where your head office is.
Including terms relating to the sale of your products (such as payment terms, delivery, refunds) means your Ts and Cs have a dual purpose. Neat, huh?
2) Cookies consent banner
Yes, we mean that annoying banner that pops up every time you use a website and asks if you want to accept the cookies. This is required under UK GDPR so make sure you have this! A user is free to decline, but that means that you won’t be able to provide them with the full website experience. Don’t worry if this sounds daunting – your web developer will be able to add this for you!
The purpose is to tell your website users and customers what personal data you collect from them and why. There are six lawful bases in total, but the ones you are most likely to rely on are:
- Consent – by using your website, they consent to their data collection and if they don’t, they shouldn’t use your website.
- Contract – you need their data (such as name, email address, phone number) to fulfil your contract with them, such as providing goods or services.
You’ll also need to explain what cookies you use. Tell them you can’t identify them from the cookies and the purpose is to improve user experience of your website.
You also need to tell them where you store their data and when you might disclose it. You are obliged to delete their data if they request it, and they should be able revoke their consent anytime.
How can you contact us to find out more?
At Jamieson Law, we pride ourselves on helping small businesses understand their legal obligations and trying to make everything that bit less daunting. This includes helping out with website documents, fixed fee contract reviews and contract drafting services.
If you feel like you could benefit from some one-to-one advice, please take advantage of our free 15-minute legal advice calls.
These are not sales calls; just our way of giving back to the business community. You can book a slot here calendly.com/jamiesonlaw/15min