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1961 - CalArts grad (MFA '92) and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob SquarePants, born in Oklahoma; developed prototype for Spongebob while studying at CalArts in 1989. Estimated net worth in 2012: $90 million [story]

[KHTS] – Santa Clarita business owners selling anything on the Internet could be breaking the law without knowing it, and putting their e-commerce websites at risk of being shut down. How to avoid those nightmares is the focus of Chaz Key’s next free “Internet How” workshop Meet-up in Santa Clarita on Tuesday May 13, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

your-business-website-breaking-law-find-out-free-workshop-41739-1Key, “Internet How” series organizer and host, a Los Angeles SEO expert, Internet marketer and founder of Nine Eye Interactive Media (http://nineeye.com) in Santa Clarita, has invited Atlanta-based Internet law expert and author Frederick L. (“Chip”) Cooper, Esq. to be guest instructor at the how-to workshop.

Tuesday’s Meet-up will be Key’s first to feature a guest speaker live-streamed into a workshop classroom from another location, in this case, three time zones away.

Cooper will base his presentation on his latest book, “7 Shocking Legal Gotchas That Can Shut Down Your Online Business, and What to Do About it!”

Everyone who attends the Santa Clarita workshop will receive a free 183-page PDF of the entire book at the end of the session.

Attendees will learn that they don’t know what they don’t know,” said Cooper, who has conducted or been guest speaker at more than 60 workshops based on “7 Legal Gotchas That Can Shut Down Your Online Business, and What to Do About it!” in the last year and a half.

“That’s very trite – cliché – but the most common reaction I have from business people who attend this workshop is, ‘Good grief, I had no idea that what I do as an operator of an e-commerce website is so regulated and that I had so much legal exposure. I didn’t know!’ That’s the general reaction.”


What Makes Chip Cooper an Expert in Internet Law?

“Chip is the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to Internet law and protecting your business website from legal problems,” Key said. “Be prepared to be shocked by the seven big ones, but relieved to find out how to do business online without breaking the law and getting shut down.”

As a practicing attorney representing businesses, and an Adjunct Professor teaching Software Law for 20 years at the Wake Forest University School of Law in Winston-Salem, N.C., Cooper has been on the bleeding edge of software and Internet law developments for the past three decades.

Among other specialties, Cooper is an expert in website legal compliance, Internet law, online intellectual property law, and online software distribution and marketing.

Find out more about Cooper here.

Chip Cooper’s 7 Most Shocking Legal Gotchas for Online Businesses

your-business-website-breaking-law-find-out-free-workshop-41739-2-350x424As guest speaker at Tuesday night’s “7 Shocking Legal Gotchas That Can Shut Down Your Online Business, and What to Do About it!” workshop, Cooper will provide a brief history of developments in Internet law.

He will detail what his experience has shown him are the seven worst legal problems people conducting business online should avoid at all costs.

And he will show how a business can best cover its assets by conducting e-commerce legally, without violating any of the myriad and ever-changing Federal Trade Commission regulations and/or other relevant laws.


Cooper provided KHTS News an exclusive preview of the 90-minute workshop:

1). You Don’t Own Your Website, Software, and the Other Stuff You Outsourced!

“Just last week, I picked up two new clients who discovered much to their horror that they either didn’t own the software that they had outsourced to a software programmer, or their website was outsourced to a web developer because they didn’t understand the Copyright Act and specifically the work-for-hire rules,” Cooper said. “We’re trying to resolve those issues now. If you know about those rules, you can avoid the problem.”

2). Your Blog Blunders Create Huge Liability for Copyright Infringement

“Copyright infringement is a strict liability offense,” Cooper said. “That means, for example, if someone steals an article off my website and posts it on your blog or website, even if you had no knowledge about it, you would be a copyright infringer because of the strict liability principles. There is a legal safe harbor. If you know about it, you can take advantage of it, and shield yourself or your business from that kind of liability. But if you’ve got a blog and you don’t know about that safe harbor, you’re in some serious trouble. We’ll cover that in the workshop.”

3). Your Membership Site Lands You on the FTC’s Top Target List

“There have been a lot of abusive scams aimed at consumers over the last four to five years,” Cooper said. “Probably No. 1 on the scam list would be luring consumers into a continuity billing plan, where they’re automatically billed on a monthly basis.

“Some very deceptive practices are used to lure consumers into these plans, and in most cases consumers didn’t even know they were in them,” he said. “They somehow got involved in a free download that they had to pay for shipping and handling with a credit card to get, and then they didn’t know that the credit card was now being billed for membership. So the federal government and the state of California now have statutes that regulate the use of continuative billing plans for membership sites, and are targeting those sites not in compliance.”

4). Your Ignorance of Privacy-Protected Information Causes Massive FTC Fines

“There are specific statutes at the federal level for health records, financial records and other things, but back in 2004, the state of California took the lead in passing the first statute – and the only statute, by the way, in the United States – regulating privacy on a general basis,” Cooper said.

“It’s called the California OPPA statute, Online Privacy Protection Act,” he said. “The idea is that if you collect personal information from a consumer, then you need to post a privacy policy that has to explain how you collect it, how you use it and how you share it.

“Back at the beginning of ’04, there was a definition of what personal information was,” Cooper said. “If you collect any of it, you’re regulated; if you don’t collect any of it, you’re not. The problem is the definition of personal information has expanded over time, particularly with respect to new developments in social media and mobile apps.

“If you’re not quite up to speed with how this definition of personal information has expanded, you can find yourself collecting information you didn’t know was regulated now, and you could be in some serious trouble,” Cooper said.

5). Your Own Privacy Policy is Enforced Against You by the FTC

“Most people don’t realize that the statements and assurances they make in their online privacy policy are viewed by the Federal Trade Commission as contractual promises,” Cooper said. “So if you make statements and don’t ‘keep your promise,’ the FTC views that failure as a deceptive marketing practice. So if you don’t do what you say you’ll do, the FTC can enforce your own privacy policy against you.”

6). You Naively Rely Solely on Boilerplate Disclaimers to Protect You

“The typical view among many Internet marketers is, ‘I can do anything regarding advertising. I can say anything, I can promise anything, I can be as deceptive as I want to be, as long as I have a few boilerplate disclaimers that basically take all my sins away and forgive me,’” Cooper said.

“Not true. It’s a very naïve approach, and we’ll go into more detail in the workshop,” he said.

7). You Fall into the FTC’s Biggest Liability Trap with U13s

“U13 is an acronym for a child under the age of 13, a child who is not a teenager yet,” Cooper said.

“This is a specific privacy and data security-type statute that basically says if you collect personal information from a U13, you have to have that child’s parental consent before you collect information. You can’t collect information from the child then go back and get parental consent. That won’t work.

“Last year, effective July 1, the FTC also expanded and upgraded COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule), creating significantly new requirements,” he said. “Some general purpose websites unwittingly have games, music, photographs of child actors and models that might attract the U13 and therefore be regulated by COPPA when they don’t intend to be. That’s the big U13 liability trap.”

Cooper noted his “7 Shocking Legal Gotchas That Can Shut Down Your Online Business, and What to Do About it!” book includes about 20 more legal gotchas that online business operators need to avoid or shield themselves against.

“So there is some room for discussion, but these seven made my final cut as the absolute worst,” he said.

Learn How to Keep it Legal When Taking Care of Business Online

By the end of the workshop, Key and Cooper expect a packed conference room full of Santa Clarita small business owners to be a lot more aware of the legal end of doing business online.

“Many of them are operating from home and are fairly new in the e-commerce business, and I want them to understand that they are just as regulated as large corporations who also advertise and sell products to consumers,” Cooper said. “They need to have the general realization and the general understanding that they are highly regulated.

“The second part of that is, because they’re selling products, services or both to consumers, they are regulated by the FTC, which has extraordinarily broad powers.” he said. “Those powers go far beyond what you would normally expect in civil litigation. The FTC can freeze your bank accounts, seize personal assets, pierce corporations and limited liability companies. So there’s a really serious level of exposure to liability for e-commerce websites, which most of them are, that are selling to consumers.”

As a takeaway, Cooper said, “They need to understand that exposure, and some of the detail that I’ll provide, along with a free copy of my book, so they can then drill down a little bit more into some of the specific rules and regulations that affect them. But general understanding and awareness is really the goal.”

‘Internet How’ Series: The Power of Knowledge, Applied

“7 Shocking Legal Gotchas That Can Shut Down Your Online Business, and What to Do About it!” is the latest in Key’s “Internet How” series of free how-to workshops for Santa Clarita-area business owners who market their products or services online.

Key kicked off the “Internet How” series on March 25 teaching the class “How to Build a WordPress Site in 60 Minutes” and followed with “Learn Facebook Secrets” featuring guest speaker and Facebook marketing expert Anthony Franck on April 29.


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