Every Web site and Blog owner should be aware of legal issues. We are not attorneys. The information below is offered as a guideline only not as legal advice. Consult with your attorney when in doubt.
- Copyright of Text and Graphics
Unless clearly stated otherwise all text and graphics at Web sites and Blogs are automatically protected by copyright law. You cannot copy someone else’s work without permission. You cannot grab photos just because they are on the Web. Copyright laws also cover derivative work. The good news is: no one can legally copy your material either. Please be sure to read our Copyright Information page.
- Trademarks and Servicemarks
You cannot use other’s trademarked or servicemarked terms at your Web site or Blog whether visible or invisible. This means that you cannot, without permission, use marks you do not own in your meta tags or alt tags. You cannot use other’s marks as if they were your own. Further, you cannot own domain names containing a trademark or servicemark unless the mark belongs to you. Should you be sued by the legally registered holder of the mark, precedent says you will lose.
- Company Names and Product Names
You cannot use your competitor’s names and product names in your site meta tags. Should you be sued by the other company, precedent says you will lose. You also cannot mention ‘excessively’ your competition or competition’s products in visible text in order to manipulate search engine rankings so that your site appears when someone specifically searches for your competition.
Compliance With Rules From Governing Bodies
Real estate, for example, is heavily regulated by state law which varies from state to state. In addition, the National Association of REALTORS® governs the activities of its members, and many real estate companies (especially the national franchises) have Web rules and regulations that licensed real estate agents must follow. It is VERY important that you know what is required in your state and by your board and by your company in order that you remain in compliance. These compliance rules can apply to everything from domain names to meta tags to statements about equal opportunity housing. You are fully responsible for the compliance of your site. We do not have any way of knowing current rules and regulations for every state, every real estate board, and every company.
Meta Tags and Compliance
Some states require that your broker’s name be included in page titles, keywords, and site description as viewed in search engines. On the surface this may sound like a good idea. However, consider this. When you change companies and your site has been listed in a bazillion search engines, it’s almost impossible to get the description changed to reflect your new company. You are then most likely not in compliance since you are being advertised as affiliated with a broker for whom you no longer work. We have no good solution for this problem. You may need to get a new domain name and start all over with a new site.