Danger dot com II

In the second of a two-part series, DLA Piper's Tsung Wei Wong guides regional organisations through some of the common issues they need to be aware of when establishing an online presence.

  • E-Mail
By  Tsung Wei Wong Published  January 26, 2008

In the second of this two-part article, we focus on another five of the top ten legal risks (in no particular order) faced by commercial websites on the net today. Last month we looked at issues related to internal issues, such as ownership of website contents, terms of use, and privacy and data protection. In this column, we look at external issues that may affect how your organisation approaches its website.

1. Third party intellectual property

It is common for websites to incorporate content or media taken from third parties, such as reports generated by news agencies and pictures or photos taken by third parties. Such content may be protected by copyright. Accordingly, it is important to ensure that any third party content you intend to use is either not protected by copyright, or that the third party in question has consented to you using his/her content and material.

Caution is also needed when using "metatags" or "metadata". Wrongful use of metatags, even if inadvertent, may result in your website being liable for intellectual property right infringement.

2. Your own intellectual property

It also follows from point 6 above that where the content on your website is your own work or creation, it is essential to have intellectual property statements or policies clearly displayed on your website. This will ensure that users cannot later claim that they were unaware your original content was the protected work of another individual.

3. Hyperlinks

If your website carries hyperlinks to other third party websites, you may need to insert disclaimers in your website's terms of use to ensure you are not seen to be endorsing those websites, and to prevent any liability on your part for that website's acts or failures. Similarly, third party websites may link directly to your website. While this may mean a greater volume of traffic for your website, it may also cause users to bypass your terms of use or your advertising, or may mislead users as to the origin of the content or information on your website.

4. Security

In the operation of a website, two aspects of online security must be considered. The first is security of your users' personal information, which needs to be safeguarded using proper security policies and measures. The second is the security of your own website from viruses, worms, hacking, or other online risks, since website downtime would have adverse consequences not only to your website's performance, but may also cause damage to your wider business and reputation.

5. Jurisdiction

The global nature of the internet means that once your website is on the world wide web, it can reach the entire world, even jurisdictions you did not intend to operate in. This may in turn subject your website to differing laws and regulations, depending on factors such as the country in which the website is registered or the country in which the server is located. Proper legal risk management would require that your website's terms of use specify your preferred choice of law.

Tsung Wei Wong
Legal Consultant (Technology, Media and Commercial Group) DLA Piper Middle East LLP

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code