Online Business Defamation
Defamation is one of the most prevalent legal concerns facing online businesses. Defamation is any false statement of fact that is harmful to someone’s reputation and published “with fault,” meaning as a result of negligence or malice. Libel is generally classified as written defamation and slander is generally classified as oral defamation. Slander can be made via oral comments to another, or also by comments broadcast over the radio or television. Until the recent development of “podcasts” and other types of online videos, such as those featured on YouTube, defamation on the Internet was largely deemed to be Libel. As far as proving defamation is concerned, true statements and statements that are opinions are defenses. The problem for businesses is that nany negative statements are really only opinions. If a statement is incapable of being objectively proven true or false, it’s not defamation.
When defamation occurs online through […]
You may decide to offer some type of prize promotion, such as a sweepstakes or contest to promote your website or business. While sweepstakes and contests are generally permitted in most states, lotteries are not. The following summary of website and social media lottery, sweepstakes and contest laws should help your business stay legally compliant.
Lotteries are generally prohibited in each of the fifty states unless legislatively exempted (i.e., state run lotteries). The element of “chance” is one of the elements generally required to be present in order for some promotion or activity to violate a state anti-gambling statute. Most states have concluded that where the elements of skill, whatever they may be, predominate over the elements of chance in determining outcome then the game involved does not violate that state’s anti-gambling law. A lottery consists of a prize, chance, and consideration. Therefore, sweepstakes, contests and similar promotions must omit one of […]
If your business actually compensates endorsers or reviewers with cash, gift certificates, coupons, free products, etc. in exchange for their endorsements or positive reviews, this must be disclosed!
The FTC is the watchdog agency over businesses engaged in interstate commerce including online businesses. The revised FTC guidelines state that if a connection exists between the maker/provider of some good or service and another person that provides a positive review or endorsement about such good or service that would materially affect the endorser’s credibility in the eyes of the reasonable consumer (i.e. a “material connection”), this connection must be disclosed. This applies if the endorser is either not known to the general public or is not held out to be an “expert”. The bottom line is that where it isn’t obvious or reasonably understood by the average consumer that an endorser has or will receive consideration for the endorsement or positive review, […]