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    Protecting ecommerce site from legal ramifications


    I am converting a informational business site that only lists inventory in stock currently, to an eCommerce site that actually sells certain products in stock online.

    Now that the site will be dealing with money, I don't think the current inventory for the site, populated with images found on google images, will do.

    The images I use on my site currently do not have any trademarks directly on them, but I'm sure a few of them are copyrighted. How do I go about making a legal ecommerce store, in terms of pictures?

    Also, would I need to hire a lawyer for my privacy policy and disclaimer before a customer checks out and submits their credit card details? Should I also talk to a lawyer about possible legal ramifications of credit card theft from hackers on my site? I will ask the company owner to hire one, if this is necessary and common in almost all other web application development projects.
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    Now that the site will be dealing with money, I don't think the current inventory for the site, populated with images found on google images, will do.
    That is correct; although technically as far as copyright violation goes it doesn't actually matter whether or not you're making money, it's just that if you're making money off unlicensed IP you're a lot more likely to get sued for it.

    The images I use on my site currently do not have any trademarks directly on them, but I'm sure a few of them are copyrighted.
    In the US at least, all images are copyrighted implicitly by their creator upon creation regardless of whether the image has a trademark on it or not. There are some specific exceptions - for example, I believe that pictures taken by federal employees in the execution of their public jobs are automatically public domain. However, in general it is safe to assume that all images are copyrighted.

    How do I go about making a legal ecommerce store, in terms of pictures?
    You take the pictures yourself, or you negotiate with the owner of the copyright and get explicit permission to use them on your site. There are stock photo companies out there from whom you can buy pictures of almost anything. Often the manufacturer of the product will provide vendors with images to use for marketing purposes.

    Also, would I need to hire a lawyer for my privacy policy and disclaimer before a customer checks out and submits their credit card details?
    Probably not, although obviously it wouldn't hurt. It does sort of depend on what you're selling. If you're selling stuffed plush bunnies I wouldn't worry about it. If you're selling hardcore porn or knifes and body armor I would definitely consult a lawyer.

    Should I also talk to a lawyer about possible legal ramifications of credit card theft from hackers on my site?
    If you don't already know about them you definitely should. There are massive and extremely costly legal ramifications of someone stealing credit card details from you.
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    E-Oreo - The company is selling used items from over 50 manufacturers, and most of the items are used. It's going to be hard to find a company that provides stock images of construction equipment and tools for every random piece he has.

    What about Youtube videos - I feature a picture as well as a video (shared with them embed shared video feature) of the product. Would the youtube videos be infringing on copyright if they are just shared from youtube? I wouldn't think so since its youtube that provided the "Share" button on the videos.

    On an unrelated subject, I've been planning and so far coding on the premise that users will not sign up for an account to make purchases, for security reasons. They visit the site which gives them their unique session id, while their browser stays open their cart selections are saved, and when they select checkout it redirects them to the secure payment gateway at the payment gateway service provider. Would this method be undesirable and should I consider making users create an account?

    Oh and my client just replied to my email about photo copyright infringement and finding or taking the proper pictures and said "Why do we have to do that, people on ebay don't"
    Last edited by BitZoid; March 26th, 2013 at 05:21 PM.
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    On an unrelated subject, I've been planning and so far coding on the premise that users will not sign up for an account to make purchases, for security reasons. They visit the site which gives them their unique session id, while their browser stays open their cart selections are saved, and when they select checkout it redirects them to the secure payment gateway at the payment gateway service provider. Would this method be undesirable and should I consider making users create an account?
    If the credit card details never touch your server you drastically reduce your liability. Whether or not they create an account or not doesn't matter all that much, it just comes down to how you handle the credit card details. If everything is done through a third party then you're pretty safe.

    What about Youtube videos - I feature a picture as well as a video (shared with them embed shared video feature) of the product. Would the youtube videos be infringing on copyright if they are just shared from youtube? I wouldn't think so since its youtube that provided the "Share" button on the videos.
    I don't know the details on this, but I would assume that embedding an embeddable YouTube video doesn't normally constitute copyright infringement. I don't know if they have any restrictions in their Terms of Service regarding using videos for commercial purposes.

    E-Oreo - The company is selling used items from over 50 manufacturers, and most of the items are used. It's going to be hard to find a company that provides stock images of construction equipment and tools for every random piece he has.
    I'm fairly certain that "It was OK for me to do it illegally because doing it legally was too much work" is not usually upheld as a valid defense in court. HOWEVER, that doesn't actually mean that it's bad reasoning. It's not unusual for companies to intentionally pay fines for noncompliance, or at least risk paying a fine, because paying the fine is cheaper than complying. For example, if compliance costs me $500 / year and non-compliance carries a 10% chance each year of me being caught and having to pay a $4000 fine, then it actually makes more sense for me to not comply.

    Oh and my client just replied to my email about photo copyright infringement and finding or taking the proper pictures and said "Why do we have to do that, people on ebay don't"
    You don't have to do it, you just won't have the right to use the images legally. That doesn't physically prevent you from using them anyway.

    In all likelihood, unless this is a big company, nothing is going to happen. If the company does get caught, they'd probably only be dealing with a civil lawsuit for a few thousand dollars.

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    Thanks for the guidance
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