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Updated by Ashish Gupta on Apr 06, 2014
Headline for Online content creators and professionals should adhere to these applicable laws
Ashish Gupta Ashish Gupta
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Online content creators and professionals should adhere to these applicable laws

Creators who publish the works online and engage in social media should know of and adhere to these laws.


Freedom of Information Act (United States)

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives any person the right to access records from a U.S. governmental agency. How much time it will take to get the records you want will vary by agency, and often there is a fee associated with obtaining these records. Keep in mind, too, that not every bit of information is accessible so be aware of the 9 Exemptions and 3 Exclusions that may prevent your access.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

In plain English, this means that copyright holders can send an email or fill out a specified form asking the site where the alleged infringement is happening to either take down or block access. Known as a DMCA Takedown Notice, it’s a very powerful part of what is a very complex law.

Strategic lawsuit against public participation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) Laws protect our rights not to be censored, silenced or intimidated when the First Amendment doesn’t apply.

Copyright status of work by the U.S. government

Did you know that the U.S. government does not claim a copyright in most of their works? According to U.S. Copyright Law, a work created by an employee of the U.S. government as part of their official duty is not subject to copyright. Now you know why photos of the President sent out by the White House end up all over the place. The U.S. government may obtain copyright rights in other countries, so be aware of that if you’re using works outside the U.S.

There are exceptions to this general rule, though.

Basic contract laws

You don’t have to know what every “heretofore” and “forthwith” means, but you should know what your obligations are and what the other person’s are too before you agree to doing anything. And while having to put your fancy signature on real paper may make the contract more “real,” a valid and binding contract can be entered into via email or possibly even text messages. Tech meets law!

Children's Online Privacy Protection Act

Known as COPPA, this is important legislation that any online business should know if their products or services are “directed at children.” The reason no one under 13 can legally obtain a Facebook account is because of COPPA. If your site is directed at children, knowing what your legal obligations are is very important because the consequences of not following these laws are very harsh. The under-13 demographic is very influential and marketing to them can be very lucrative. That being said, if you do target the younger set, know the rules.

Federal Trade Commission

Online influencers are rewarded with all kinds of freebies. As a business, knowing about the online disclosure requirement could prevent receipt of a nasty-gram from the government. No business ever wants to get a letter from the FTC! Even worse, having your customer or community distrust you can destroy your reputation. Having rules for those you work with and provide free or reduced products or services to will help you stay ahead of the curve.


Income tax laws

Income tax laws

As more and more people make money from online ventures, knowing what tax liabilities exist is important. More than just personal income tax issues, if you’ve made the leap to being a business you may have taxes you never knew about. Knowing if you need to pay quarterly taxes, or pay a penalty, is key for small business because those penalties take away from precious operating dollars.
Remember that tax avoidance is legal, tax evasion is not!


Securities law

Securities law

This may not apply to most people, but if you work for a public company or a company that may go public, what you say in social media could get you and your company in hot water. As the owner of a company that may be seeking investors, disclosure of certain types of confidential information could violate SEC regulations.


Social media privacy laws

Social media privacy laws

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, privacy rights are very important in the workplace. A lot has been discussed about employers asking employees to turn over their login information for social media sites.

As an employee, knowing your rights when it comes to social media privacy is an added layer of protection. While these are workplace privacy laws, remember that there are many other laws that govern personal privacy when it comes to social media.

Sweepstakes, Contests & Giveaway Laws for Bloggers & Brands

Social media promotions are a huge draw and can bring traffic and potential revenue. However, many people don’t realize that all promotions are governed by state and federal laws. Many social media promotions are violating the basic rules of sweepstakes and contests, putting their company at great risk not only from the government but also from contestants or potential contestants who may sue for violations.

Rights of Publicity law

The right of publicity, often called personality rights, is the right of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness, or other unequivocal aspects of one's identity.

  • Ashish Gupta


    Ashish has several years of experience working with content. He is a technical communicator and a community builder by profession; UX advocate and a quality champion by nature; and a Chemical engineer from IIT Bombay by academic qualification.

    In his spare time he likes to spoil his son silly, test workflows, identify usability enhancements and new features in software that he uses, and indulge in the online communities. Other interests areas in which Ashish dabbles are Instructional content, eLearning, social media, SEO, project management, life skills, watching soccer, fantasize about running long marathons some day, and occasionally trekking in the Himalayas.

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