A Special Notice to WebMasters and Web Designers and Builders

10 Nov A Special Notice to WebMasters and Web Designers and Builders

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Website developers are co-liable with their clients for what they post. Developers need to know the rules to that they can save themselves and hopefully their client.

I hope that all webpage craftsmen know that a Privacy Policy is required on ALL websites. If your website viewer is in California there are additional requirements. Since you don’t know if your viewer is in California, you have to comply with California law. Do you know what that law is?

Do you know how the FTC requires that you signal the importance of the Privacy Policy? If not, you’d better find out. There are two simple ways but 90% of websites violate this simple regulation.

A User Agreement, sometimes called Terms of Service, is NOT legally required on a website. But the website is suicidal if they don’t put one there. The amount of mischief that a viewer can cause an innocent website is legendary. It could fill law books. In fact, it does.

A Purchase Agreement is also not required even if you sell something. The reason is that each state and even the federal government has one written for you as refined by hundreds of court cases. This is a quiz: whom do courts and laws favor most? The buyer or the seller? Hint: You want a Purchase Agreement that favors YOU the seller.

Do you know how to double or triple the costs of a customer suing your client in order to discourage litigation?

Here’s a rule of thumb since you, the designer, are liable for copy that you should have known was unlawful or misleading: User Agreements and Purchase Agreements save the website from civil litigation. The Privacy Policy saves you from criminal litigation. And disclaimers and disclosures that are related to promotional material must be in very close proximity to where the claim is made. Violating this FTC regulation gets you fines or prison. Stupidity is not a great legal defense in case you didn’t know. After all, you’re a professional.

Rule: Disclosures or disclaimers in your Purchase Agreement will NOT save you from trouble if you should have placed the disclosures or disclaimers within the promotion copy itself. For instance if your copy says “The XRZ Tracking system will increase your income by 200%” that’s called an “income claim.” And it requires an IMMEDIATE disclaimer. The disclaimer does not have to be in legalese. This is a great disclaimer: “But to get that kind of increase in income, you actually have to work. Some harder than others. Maybe you have to be lucky. And maybe you have to have a certain level of skill. And maybe you don’t have what it takes. That’s why we have the 100% no questions asked 30-day refund policy. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying, right?” You see? That not only swallowed easy, it is actually reverse psychology. Certainly the prospect can’t admit that he’s lazy and stupid and without the necessary skills. As well as unlucky. But you very clearly complied with all FTC rules.

I’m going to make an unabashed plug for my product. Internet Law Compliance: Complete Legal Guide for Websites is as complete a product as exists to teach you and your clients the basics that cover 99% of websites. If your site pitches to children or promotes adult material your client should get a live lawyer who knows what they’re doing. Most lawyers don’t, so the Guide can help while you find your lawyer. The Guide also comes with copyrighted fully-licensed, easy to edit in MS Word (yes we trust you) User Agreement, Privacy Policy, Purchase Agreement and disclaimers for one website. Licenses are available for multiple sites by the same owner. You also get about 200 pages of instructions along with other reports on the FTC, FDA, CAN-SPAM, blogger rules, and much more.

If you sell a health product that offers a cure, a treatment, a protocol, then you’d better know that the disclaimer at the bottom of the page that says “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease and this product has not been evaluated by the FDA” is not going to save you from prison if you make a contrary claim in your promotional copy. If you sell products in which you suspect the FDA has an interest, read the FDA Report.

I admit this is a self-serving remark. But the product costs USD $99.99. That’s not 2% of what a lawyer would charge for building specific docs for a website. What is important is that your client knows the rules so it’s easier on you. Get the person to buy the product and read it. You should have your own copy so you know what they’re reading. That way the licenses belongs to your client when the client buys this own product. If you want you can. Make the client fill in the details required. That way YOU can’t be accused of making mistakes or practicing law. If you want, there’s an affiliate program for you if you want the client to buy it through you.

I don’t want to scare the pants off you but federal agencies (as well as many state agencies and state attorneys general) are having a field day when they want to take a web marketer down. And that is now including the designer who should have known better. I’ve been involved with the defense of some of the biggest names in the internet. When I tell you that there is no defense, there’s not. It’s just a question of what the punishment will be. I personally know a few millionaires wiped out and a few others in prison.

Why I think it may be worth your time to read my material and have you clients read it, is that I’ve developed some very savvy ways to comply with the and ACTUALLY INCREASE SALES at the same time.

I have leaned how to write disclaimers that boost sales! You’re in business. My guess is that if you can show your client how to comply with the law and boost sales, you’re God.

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