Most of us take email for granted. We just type in an address, pound out a message and hit send. We trust our email will get there in a prompt fashion and that, if needed, we’ll hear back from the recipient shortly.
The problem is that email doesn’t go directly from point A to point B. Your email, as with nearly all communication on the Internet, is first passed through a series of intermediaries that receive it and send it on its way again.
Since this happens within the blink of an eye it’s easy for us to miss it or not think about it. However, this system has drastic impacts for the relative privacy of email both in terms of how secure our information is and what others can do with it.
The truth is simple. Email, at least by itself, is not a private method of communication and should never be treated as such. Your email is not safe from snooping by the government, by your employers, by your ISP nor even disclosure by your recipient.
The impact this has on you depends on how you want to use email, but the basics of the situation are pretty much the same for everyone, never put anything in an email you don’t want disclosed publicly later. read more
Liu’s case has drawn so much attention because of how outrageous it seems. To be arrested and convicted criminally for giving a restaurant a bad review seems insane, especially in the U.S. and other nations that put a high value on free speech.
But while Liu’s case may be an extreme one, bad reviews are actually fraught with legal peril. To be clear, many of the legal problems that are associated with negative reviews also hold true for positive ones but companies and individuals tend to be far more angry and far more litigious about people saying bad things rather than good ones.
So, if you’re looking to write a negative review, here are a few things to watch out for as they could be levers that your target might use against you and your site in an attempt to silence you, justly or unjustly. read more
But that begs the question, who is likely to do either make the threat or file the lawsuit? While the answer could easily be just about anyone as lawsuits online are as varied as thy are in the bricks and mortar world, there are definiely some groups that have been far more litigious than your average netizen.
However, actual data in this area is very difficult, if not impossible, to come by. Not only does one have to factor in the courts of over 50 states and nearly 200 countries, but many of the most important legal threats never actually make it to court.
So, unfortunately, a lot of guesswork is involved but it doesn’t take much research to see some trends forming. With that in mind, if you’re worried about being sued for your blogging activities, here are some groups that you probably want to avoid or at least be wary of messing with. read more
Legally, blogging can be a very scary activity. Since few bloggers are acquainted with media law before setting up their first site, they are dealing with issues of trademark, copyright, libel, privacy, etc. when they have little understanding of the law itself.
This, often times, creates problems where a blogger oversteps a legal boundary and finds themselves either being sued or threatened with legal action. However, it also can create the reverse problem, one where the blogger is threatened with legal action when they haven’t done anything against the law.
To be clear, in the U.S., anyone can sue anyone for any reason at any time. If your sole purpose is to avoid a lawsuit, being within the law is, unfortunately, no protection. There’s always a chance you could have to spend the time and money to defend yourself in court.
However, if you have a more practical goal of not being hit with a lawsuit that has a chance of success, you still don’t want to give in needlessly to false legal threats. With that in mind, here are five of the more common false legal threats that bloggers face and why they carry no weight. read more
If you design websites, you know well that the list of Web-safe fonts, though having grown some over the years, is very short compared to the number of fonts available in the world.
In fact, only a fraction of a percent of all fonts created are available to Web designers. Though, considering how hideous some fonts are that might actually be a good thing to a degree, there’s not much doubt that the Web would be a more vibrant and more readable place with more options available.
One cause of this has been the technical challenges that make adding more fonts difficult, including the fact that different operating systems have different fonts installed by default and installing fonts has, historically, been difficult to do,
However, there’s also been a set of legal obstacles that have prevented an explosion in Web fonts and kept many of the most popular fonts in the world from being truly web safe.
What can be done about this? First we have to understand the problem and then look at what others are doing to make the Web a much more exciting place for font lovers. read more
However, just as with the content and the domain name of your site, there are ethical and legal issues that come with the theme of your site. Specifically, both trademark and copyright law protect or may protect the theme you’re using right now. But unlike the content that fills your pages, most bloggers don’t create their own theme, at least not from scratch, putting them in the position of using someone else’s work on their site.
That being said, the ways in which copyright and trademark impact Web design is not nearly as simple and as straightforward as with other types of content due to how the laws overlap and what they don’t protect.
So, if you either want to protect your blog’s design or make sure that you’re on the right side of the law with your blog’s theme, here is what you need to know about copyright, trademark and blog design. read more
Most people online know what a “troll” is and pretty much everyone, regardless of whether or not they know the term, has encountered at least one in their travels on the Web.
Wikipedia describes a troll as, “Someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”
However, there is another type of “troll” working on the Web as we speak. Though this kind is much more rare, it is also much more dangerous. Where a traditional troll may disrupt a conversation or say hurtful things, legal trolls (or law trolls) sue/threaten people and, in doing so, attempt to ruin them financially, often over minor perceived violations or no violation at all.
But as few and far-between as these legal trolls are, they are growing and you need to be aware of them and how to avoid them, at least as much as possible. So, with that in mind, here’s your guide to the world of online legal trolls. read more
With TwitPic recently finding itself in hot water over a terms of service change that prevented its users from reselling photographs they had uploaded using the service (their TOS has since been changed to slightly less controversial terms), there’s been a great deal of interest lately the terms we agree to when registering new accounts at various site and the time bombs that could be buried in there.
The truth is that very few people take the time to as much as skim the TOS before clicking “accept” and are completely unaware of what is in the legally binding contract they just “signed”. This has the potential to create major headaches down the road when and if these services decide to exploit their rights to their fullest.
So, if you’re motivated to be a little more careful with the terms you agree to, here is a quick primer on five critical things you want to check when accepting a new TOS. While, obviously, this isn’t a complete list, these are probably the things you probably want to look for first in order to best understand what it is you’re signing and what it might mean moving forward. read more
Copyright is a notoriously confusing and complicated area of law, but one that also impacts nearly every part of our daily lives. As such, it is pretty much inevitable that well-intended people are going to make mistakes.
However, with copyright law, blunders can be very costly. In addition to the threat of a lawsuit, one can have their site shut down, access to some of their favorite services revoked and lose a lot of credibility. Even if none of those things comes to pass, a copyright dispute is still a major headache and one that most, if given the choice, would prefer to avoid.
As such, it’s important for bloggers to be aware of some of the more common copyright pitfalls that come from blogging and, more importantly, how to avoid them.
With that in mind, here are three of the most common copyright blunders bloggers make and what can be done to prevent yourself from falling into them. Fortunately, all are easy mistakes to see and avoid, if you know to look for them. read more
There are three major types of intellectual property law: Copyright, Patent and Trademark.
The distinction between the three can often be confusing and gray, but in general copyright protects artistic expressions (literature, movies, photos, music, etc.), patents protect ideas and inventions and trademark protects any “mark” associated with a business.
However, trademark is very different from other areas of intellectual property. You don’t run afoul of the law simply by copying the mark itself but, as a tradeoff, trademarks can protect a much wider variety of things that would not fall under any other area of protection.
Yet, at the same time, trademark often overlaps with copyright, especially when dealing with some logos, and there is a great deal of confusion between copyright and trademark in discussions online.
All in all, trademark is a thorny and often misunderstood area of intellectual property law that demands a closer look, especially if you routinely write about companies or use trademarks in your post.
So what do you need to know about trademarks? The basics are below.