This and the following posts have been copied or adopted from A Legal Guide To The Internet – Sixth Edition, published through a collaborative effort by the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development and Merchant & Gould.

Preface to A Legal Guide to the Internet

Speed is the principal characteristic of the Internet: speed of computers, speed of transactions, speed of technology adoption, speed of competition, speed of growth, speed of the transformation of industries and markets.

That speed of activity in pursuit of fast profits can often blur the focus needed to control costs which likewise can grow very quickly in the Internet environment. While electronic commerce can eliminate some old costs like fixed overhead it brings with it new costs like web design, advertising, customer service, and product branding. It also brings significant questions of ownership, copyrights, privacy, contract formation, product distribution, the terms and conditions of website use: many of which are absent from, or not as substantially present, in non-electronic methods of commerce.

This publication seeks to address some of those legal issues as costs that can be borne early in a firm’s Internet activity to reduce the possibility of more substantial liability costs later. While not intended as legal advice, it will hopefully serve as a primer to businesses in framing questions and issues for discussion with their own legal counsel and other professional advisors.

The Internet is an area requiring both broad and deep expertise which has been provided by our collaborator Merchant & Gould. At the firm, a particular note of thanks goes to Michael Cohen, Gregory Golla, and William Schultz, for preparing these materials.

Disclaimer to A Legal Guide to the Internet

This Guide is designed to alert Minnesota companies, employers and residents to issues that commonly arise in conjunction with operating on the Internet. It should be used only as a guide and not as a definitive source to answer your legal questions. Consultation with legal counsel is advised as you encounter situations with respect to your dealings on the Internet which you must address. We hope that this Guide will raise questions and familiarize you with frequently arising Internet law issues so that you will know when to seek professional advice before an Internet decision becomes a problem.

This Guide is designed to reflect the law as it existed through April 2006. Internet law is a new and rapidly changing area of the law, and what is true today may not be true tomorrow. The materials in this Guide are intended to provide general information and should not be relied upon for specific legal advice. Legal counsel should be consulted regarding questions and issues of protection or infringement of rights, so as to avoid possible loss of rights or infringement of the rights of others. Merchant & Gould and the Minnesota Small Business Assistance Office cannot and do not assume responsibility for decisions based on the information provided in this guide.