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July 29, 2011

Why Where You Host Your Site Matters Legally

One of the beautiful things about building your own site is that you can choose where you want to host it and what you want the domain to be. On that front, the Web provides nearly limitless choices with hosts in nearly every corner of the earth and hundreds of domain extensions. The room for opportunity and creativity is incredible.

However, where you host and where what you choose for your domain has a large bearing on your site and there are many factors that you need to consider.

Many of the factors are actually technical. Your server’s proximity to your visitors affects its speed and not all countries are as well connected as you would like for hosting a site. For example, you wouldn’t want to host a site aimed at an Asian audience somewhere in rural South America.

But on top of the technical considerations are legal ones. Whenever you sign up for a hosting account in another country, you’re doing more than moving your site there, you are, in many regards, subjecting yourself to the laws of that nation.

That can have some dire consequences for your site if you aren’t careful and, in extreme cases, can even result in your arrest and possible extradition.

In short, thinking about these issues is an important consideration when choosing a host, but one that few actually weigh. read more

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May 13, 2011

5 Things to Check When Reading a Terms of Service

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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

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August 10, 2009

Copyright, Jurisdiction and You

In copyright law, the big news is always made by cases such as the Jammie Thomas verdict, the Tenenbaum trial or even The Pirate Bay trial in Sweden. As importance as these cases are, their legal applicability to the average person is dubious, especially since the RIAA has stopped suing file sharers.

For the cases that could have a direct impact on your life, you often have to dig deeper. This is true for the case of Brayton Purcell LLP v. Recordon & Recordon, a seemingly dull case about two law firms in a dispute over content posted on their respective Web sites.

However a recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case, if upheld by other circuits or the Supreme Court, could have a drastic impact on the way copyright issues are litigated in the United States.

How big is the difference? The dissenting judge on the panel said the following, “Under the majority’s opinion, every website operator faces the potential that he will be hailed into far-away courts based upon allegations of intellectual property infringement, if he happens to know where the alleged owner of the property rights resides.”

In short, if you are accused of copyright infringement, it is no longer safe to assume that you would be sued in your own district, but rather that you could be forced to litigate in the plaintiff’s court, enduring the extra costs and expense that comes with it. read more

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