Three Key Legal Issues Online Marketers Need to Know About

Marketers are eager to promote, but you should be aware of these 3 key legal issues online marketers face before you start.

Three Key Legal Issues Online Marketers

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash


As the world becomes increasingly digital, online marketing has become an essential tool for businesses looking to reach new customers and grow their sales. However, with the rise of digital marketing comes a host of legal issues that businesses must navigate to avoid costly legal penalties. 


In this blog post, we will explore three key legal issues that online marketers need to be aware of to stay compliant and protect their businesses.


1. Privacy Law 


One of the most critical legal issues that online marketers face is compliance with data privacy laws. First of all, when your customers purchase something online, they need to provide some contact information. The methods you use to gather all the necessary data must comply with the current data collection laws and privacy regulations. 


Businesses must comply with these laws by obtaining explicit consent from individuals before collecting, using, and sharing their personal data. This includes information such as names, email addresses, and browsing history. In addition, businesses must also provide clear and detailed information about their data collection and processing practices and allow individuals to access, correct, and delete their personal data. Also, they need to store sensitive data professionally, such as credit card information. 


Furthermore, businesses must also take appropriate measures to protect personal data from unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. This includes implementing appropriate security measures, such as encryption and regular vulnerability assessments.


In addition, businesses are also required to report data breaches to the relevant authorities within a certain timeframe and inform the affected individuals. This is to ensure that personal data is handled securely and in compliance with the law.


Data collection and privacy laws are constantly evolving, so businesses must stay informed and up to date with the latest regulations. Failing to comply with data privacy laws can result in significant fines, legal action, and damage to the business’s reputation. You can ask a legal professional for advice if you don’t know where to start. 


Here are some tips you can follow:


  • Consider your location and set up rules that comply with the law. For that, you need to have a clear Privacy Policy and ask customers to agree with it before they start providing their data.
  • Require customers to click the “Agree” button when they want to buy something on your website or want to receive marketing newsletters. 
  • Have Terms of Use on your website as well. 
  • Ensure to tell customers that when you gather their data, you keep it secure and explain how you store and protect that information. You need to have security mechanisms in place. For instance, SSL is a great way to protect the user’s data. This way, they can trust you as a customer and be more encouraged to use your services or products. 
  • Also, you can use cloud storage providers to store data. Always choose a reputable one within your jurisdiction. 
  • Save your rights if data loss occurs by including a Limitations of Liability clause. 


2. Intellectual Property Laws


Intellectual property issues are essentially any legal issues related to ideas and creative works. Intellectual property (IP) refers to a category of legal rights that protect original creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, and designs. 


The four main types of IP are patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.


  • Patents: These are granted for new, useful, and non-obvious inventions, such as a new machine, process, or composition of matter. They provide the inventor with the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, selling, and importing the invention for a certain period of time (usually 20 years from the date of application).
  • Trademarks: These are signs, symbols, or designs that distinguish the goods or services of one business from those of another. Examples of trademarks include logos, brand names, and slogans. They are used to protect a business’s reputation and prevent consumer confusion.
  • Copyrights: These are granted to creators of original works of authorship, such as literature, music, and art. 
  • Trade secrets: These are forms of IP that protect confidential information, such as secret formulas, methods, or data that give a business a competitive advantage. They can include a wide range of information, from recipes and formulas to customer lists and business plans.


Businesses need to understand that IP rights are granted by law and are separate from physical possession of the product, process, or design. It’s not something that you can physically hold, but it’s a legal right to prevent others from using your intellectual property without permission.


IP rights can be bought, sold, and licensed just like any other property. A patent owner, for example, could license another party the right to use the invention in exchange for a royalty or sell the patent outright.


Businesses need to protect their intellectual property (IP), as it can be a valuable asset to a company. If someone else is using your IP without permission, you may have the legal right to take action to stop them.


The main intellectual property issues for online marketers are copyright infringement, trade secret violation, and trademark infringement. Here are some steps you must not take:


  • Plagiarism — Copying someone else’s work without permission or attribution.
  • Infringing on copyright — Using photos or videos without permission.
  • Using someone else’s brand name as part of your own domain name without permission.


Online marketers need to be aware of the risk of copyright and trademark infringement. This includes using copyrighted material without permission and using trademarks without authorization. In addition, businesses must also ensure that their own branding and marketing materials do not infringe on the rights of others. Businesses that are found to have infringed on the rights of others can be subject to legal action and may be required to pay damages.

3. Advertising


Advertising is the practice of promoting a product, service, or brand through various forms of media, such as television, radio, print, digital platforms, and social media. It’s an important aspect of any business, as it helps to raise awareness about a product or service, generate leads and sales, and increase brand recognition.


However, advertising also comes with a set of legal considerations. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), for example, has regulations that require businesses to provide truthful and non-deceptive advertising. This means that businesses cannot make false or misleading claims about their products or services and must be able to substantiate any claims they make in their advertising. 


Furthermore, businesses are also prohibited from engaging in deceptive advertising practices, such as hiding fees or terms or falsely advertising a product or service as being “free.” Failure to comply with these rules can result in fines, legal action, and damage to the business’s reputation. 


In addition to the federal regulations, there are also state-level regulations and industry-specific guidelines that businesses must adhere to. It’s also important to note that in some cases, depending on the location, certain products or services are subject to specific advertising laws and regulations (for example, the advertising of tobacco, alcohol, and certain types of pharmaceuticals). So, always comply with the rules, especially the FTC regulations, before making any ads. 


Advertising laws can be complex and vary by location, so businesses must ensure that their advertising practices are compliant. This may include reviewing and updating advertising materials and campaigns, as well as seeking legal advice.


In conclusion, online marketing is a powerful tool for businesses, but it also poses a range of legal risks. Businesses must stay informed about the latest laws and regulations and ensure that their marketing practices are compliant. While it’s important to be aware of the key legal issues online marketers face, mentioned above, it’s also important to be informed about new laws and regulations, particularly in your location.