If you think the internet is like the Wild West now, imagine what it was like in the 1990s. Fifteen years ago, when the Internet was in its infancy, most of the jurisdictions in this country had no laws regulating bad behavior on the internet.
There were no cyberstalking laws, preventing creeps from spying on you online. And there were no cyberharassment or cyberharassment laws, which meant that internet bullies could get away with even more thuggish behavior than some do today, with no fear of having the law punish them.
Fortunately, those days are over. There are now a variety of laws in this country to go after cybercreeps. While the laws are not perfect, they are certainly better than having no laws against such bad behavior. And people who are a victim of such crimes should be aware that they do have recourse against such illegal behaviors.
Here are some other laws that affect internet usage that you should be aware of. Keep in mind that you really should talk to an attorney experienced in internet law if you have specific questions or issues. He or she will know about the laws governing such issues.
If you have a copyright to a song, movie, or book, you do have recourse if somebody takes your item online without your permission. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) can help you get the item taken down.
On the other hand, you need to make sure that you yourself do not violate anybody else’s copyright. For example, if you have a website, make sure that you own the material you put up, or have rights to it. One good way is to go to Flickr to get photos from people who have their photos marked with Creative Commons rights. There are plenty of people who will allow you to use their photos for free on your site, with or without you having to ask for permission. The same goes with things like content, music and videos; just make sure that they grant Creative Commons rights, and you are good to go.
If you are sending out an email newsletter for your business, don’t do it willy-nilly. There are various rules and regulations you must follow in order to make sure that you don’t violate the CAN-SPAM Act. That federal legislation is designed to keep people from spamming others. You must make sure you only send emails to people who have agreed to receive such information. You must also give them an option at the end of the newsletter to opt out of future emails.
In summary, there are now a variety of laws that can govern behavior on the internet. If you have any questions, talk to an internet attorney to learn more.
Lisa Swan writes for legal sites such as NYCCounsel.com.