Nik's Technology Blog

Travels through programming, networks, and computers

Internet World - eBusiness Legal Tips

It's been a couple of weeks since I attended Internet World at London's Earl Court and the follow-up emails have started to arrive in my inbox where I exchanged business cards with some of the exhibitors.
The show ran for three days, but I only managed to attend on the last day (1st May 2008).

During the exhibition, as well as general networking, I attended several presentations about marketing, social media, search and e-commerce.
One particular presentation by Nigel Miller of Fox Williams LLP was about legal tips for safe selling online.
This topic will bore many developers, entrepreneurs and start-ups because they don't understand or see the importance in legal issues and just want to get their idea/business or product live on the web.
Having seen the potential problems of ignoring legislation first hand, I was particularly interested in what Nigel had to say.

I'm one of those people who tends to read the odd terms and conditions page or End User License Agreement (EULA) and find that the language these documents are written in doesn't make for easy reading or understanding, so I was pleased that this presentation used simple plain English.

The presentation was not an exhaustive list of the all legal rules and regulations a website needs to comply with, but it highlighted the areas that are frequently misunderstood or ignored completely, it focused mainly on UK rules and regulations, such as:

  • Sector specific compliance
  • Web Accessibility compliance
  • Company information which must be on the website
  • Intellectual property and ownership
  • The Data Protection Act (complying with)
  • Terms and conditions and disclaimers
  • Pricing errors
  • Distance selling regulations and consumer rights

Nigel's full presentation entitled "Risky business; legal tips for safe selling online" can be downloaded as a PDF from Fox Williams' ebizlawTM website.

Nigel Miller is a partner at Fox Williams LLP.

Google add feature to stem stolen Adsense publisher code

Google have added an "Allowed Sites" feature in the Adsense console to stem a problem that has been talked about for a while.
Lots publishers have had their site content stolen and re-purposed in an almost identical fashion on another domain, specifically to earn the criminal money from advertising without spending time and effort writing content themselves.
In some cases the HTML contained the victim's Adsense code, which when uploaded to a "junk" domain with other duplicate content, essentially associated the original publisher with a bad site in Google's eyes.
To protect Google's Adsense publishers from being associated with this crime and having their Adsense accounts potentially banned, Google has developed the "Allowed Sites" feature which allows the Adsense publisher to tell Google which domains it publishes to.

What this won't do is stop people stealing your content and code, nor will it stop people hacking into your web server and changing the Adsense account ID in the Adsense Javascript to the criminals Adsense ID, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

The Rise and Fall of User Generated Content?

Another day another ludicrous allegation about cyberspace. Apparently..."The vast majority of blogs on top social websites contain potentially offensive material."

This was the conclusion of a ScanSafe commissioned report, which claims sites such as MySpace, YouTube and Blogger which are a "hit" among children can hold porn or adult language. According to the report 1 in 20 blogs contains a virus or some sort of malicious spyware.

The Problem?

User generated content is to blame of course; because of the nature of how the content is built and edited it makes it very difficult to control and regulate.


Even if you were to monitor every post on a website as part of your process, how would you clarify whether a particular portion of text, or Photoshopped image has violated anyone's copyright or intellectual property?


This is a problem the big search engines have as well. With so many SPAM sites scrapping content from other sites, then republishing the resulting mashed content as their own work in order to cash-in on affiliate income generated from SERPS. Is Google working on a solution to stem this SPAM?

EU Intellectual Property Ruling

Another potential blow to websites which rely on user generated content is the European Union ruling on intellectual property which is making its way through the ratification process. This could see ISP's and website owners being charged for copyright infringements even if the data was posted by users of the site.