Marketing is the lifeblood of any business. A strong marketing plan is crucial for a business to be successful and to thrive in the marketplace. But, no matter how solid a marketing plan is, one small wrong move can destroy everything. As with everything, it is crucial to follow the laws that govern marketing and business in general. Knowing the laws that affect your business is crucial for any marketer. Here are seven laws every marketing professional needs to know.
Copyright infringement is rampant on the internet. Unfortunately, it is easy to do and difficult to catch. However, that does not absolve you from following the law regarding it. Copying and reusing someone else’s content is common, as it is difficult to know if it is copyrighted or not.
It is crucial for you to know that all original videos, images, songs and written work are all automatically copyrighted. Also, the copyright stays in effect for at least 70 years after the creator’s death. The copyrights on these entities are implied and do not need to be explicitly stated, written or registered. However, there are exceptions to this law:
- It is possible for you to use someone else’s work if it is categorized as “fair use”. Fair use content is that which is intended for the use of educating, archiving, news reporting or commentary. It may not be used for commercial purposes.
- If the creator has stated that the content is public domain, then it can be used without fear of copyright infringement. When content is in the public domain, it can be used by you without fear of repercussions.
- You can use someone else’s work if it is published under a Creative Commons (GNU) license. This content must be used under the terms of the license. It often requires that you give credit to the creator of the work.
- Do not sell or share sensitive information.
- Obtain a Safe Harbor certification if you conduct business internationally.
The CAN-SPAM Act
Smart marketers still use email marketing to their advantage. It is still one of the most effective ways to reach out to current and prospective customers. Since email is an integral part of marketing, it is crucial for marketers to know and understand the CAN-SPAM act. CAN-SPAM stands for “controlling the assault of non-solicited pornography and marketing”. The purpose of this act is to establish the rules for commercial email marketing. It also gives recipients the right to ask that the emails stop and spells out the penalties for violations. In short, the CAN-SPAM act regulates what you can and cannot do in email marketing from a legal standpoint. Marketers who do not comply with the CAN-SPAM Act are subject to fines for each email that violates of it. The CAN-SPAM Act states:
- You may not use false or misleading header information. All information must clearly identify who initiated the message.
- You may not use deceptive subject lines — they must accurately reflect the content of the message.
- The email message must be identified as an ad.
- You must let the recipients know where you are located with a valid physical address.
- You must let recipients know how to opt-out of receiving future emails from you.
- If you hire an outside company to do your email marketing, you are legally liable for what they do. You must monitor what others are doing on your behalf.
- You must honor opt-out requests quickly.
FTC Advertising Guidelines
Consumers must be able to clearly identify advertisements as ads. If consumers cannot immediately tell they are looking at an ad, the ad must be labeled so they can tell. Although commercials on television are overt forms of advertising, other ads are not so obvious. For example, ads that pop up on social media outlets may look like an ordinary post. But, after a few clicks, you can find yourself smack-dab in the middle of an advertisement. Posts that are testimonials or endorsements must clearly state that a company paid for that content. Failure to do so can result in costly fines.
Consumer Reporting Laws
Consumer reporting laws dictate how you can use data you collect from social media. The main tenet of these laws indicates that you may not sell any data you collect from your followers. If you share this information, there is a good chance that you would be considered a consumer reporting agency. When this is the case, you would be required to follow the regulations on how that information is collected and managed. Failure to comply with these rules would likely result in fines.
The Do-Not-Call Implementation Act
The Do-Not-Call Implementation Act made the “National Do-Not-Call Registry” possible. This Act gives consumers the power to limit the number of telemarketing calls they receive. Violating this act can cost a hefty $11,000 per call. Since the fine for breaking this ordinance is so high, it is crucial for you to comply with it. Here are some tips on how to follow this law:
- Stop cold-calling as much as possible.
- Update your list regularly. Go through the Do-Not-Call Registry once a month and remove from your list any numbers that appear on it.
- Do not call people before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
Defamation is a false statement that is harmful to someone’s reputation and published as a result of malice or negligence. Each state has a specific definition of what is included in its defamation law. However, in most cases, defamation is broken down into two types. Libel is defamation through written words and slander is defamation through spoken words. Websites are protected against defaming through user-generated content. So, you do not have to weed through your blog posts to remove any negative comments against anyone. However, if you do come across such content, it is wise to remove it anyway. You can be guilty of defamation through your website content or other material you produce. To protect yourself and stay compliant, follow these tips:
- Do not abuse your freedom of speech. Although you have a right to share opinions in your content, avoid making statements that are not true.
- Check your sources. Often, people are guilty of unintentional defamation because they forget to check their sources. Always check your sources and question anything that seems the least bit defamatory.
Marketing goes beyond creating and executing a marketing plan. Being a marketer means you take on the responsibility of doing your job ethically and within the confines of the law. Understanding these laws will help you ensure every part of your marketing is top-rate and free of potential issues.
For more information or to schedule a consultation with our experts, contact Business Marketing Engine today.