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SOPA Is Off The Table For Now

Censorship is on hold
“SOPA is on hold”

When I heard the news that SOPA in its current form has been put on ice, I was relieved. I had outlined the reasons why I am opposing SOPA (↑) a couple of days ago on this blog.

Another battle in this ongoing war has been won, but the war is not over yet. Will there ever be an end to the debate?

Like look at this article in the Forbes magazine about what happened 30 years before SOPA, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) feared the VCR (↑) (video cassette recorder).

The new target is the Internet

There will always be a struggle between those who wish to defend the status quo and those who embrace change.
Don’t be afraid of “the New,” embrace it and look for opportunities.
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Daylight-Savings-Time Starts in Europe Tonight

Internet Marketing - Time Adjustment
At 2 AM switch to 3 AM in Europe on March 28, 2010.

It’s time to adjust the clocks in Europe again.

Tonight (or tomorrow morning if you will) clocks will be advanced from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. when daylight-saving-time begins in Europe this spring.

That means we (including me) lose one hour that we don’t get back until next fall when daylight-savings-time in Europe will end on Sunday, October 31, 2010. (Of course we will get it back without interest being paid. Maybe we’ll save a bit on the electric bill, but I’m not really sure about that.)

Attention to you folks in the USA and Canada: The time difference to Europe will get back to normal again.

Here are some examples to demonstrate the ‘usual time differences’ between USA, Canada and Europe.

New YorkLondon5
Los AngelesLondon8
Example: 10 a.m. in Denver is 6 p.m. in Berlin

You’ll find additional information and tools at (↑).

Browsing tip: Links designated with (↑) will open in a new browser window.

I think the next transition is on April 4th, when daylight-saving-time ends this year in Australia.

Kind of confusing, isn’t it.

Have a ‘short’ night sleep
(if you are in Europe.)

John W. Furst

Online Events in the USA 1 Hour Earlier

Daylight savings time has started in the USA (↑) today.

In Europe it will begin in two weeks, and it will end in Australia in three weeks.

Especially if you are in Europe you could easily miss online events in the USA during the next two weeks.

Be aware of those time changes when planning or attending online events.

Here is why.

For example, when it is 1pm in New York it is usually 6pm in London. Between March 14 and March 27, 2010, however, it will be 5pm in London, only 4 hours later.

Time zone tips for online events

Then on March 28 daylight savings time will rule on both continents and time difference will be the usual 5 hours till the clocks will be reset in fall of 2010, again.

Life could be easier if daylight savings time were changed on the same weekends all over the world, but that's not the case.

To make things worse, Hawaii (and many other regions in the world) don't observe daylight savings time at all. On top of that Australia and New Zealand are on the southern hemisphere. While we start daylight savings time in the North, Australia will end it on April 4, 2010.
Tip: (↑) offers detailed information and tools. Like a timezone converter, etc., …

Personally I am adding timezone information to event details. Don't leave room for assumptions. Don't assume your readers are educated about timezones, it's your job to communicate in a way they understand easily.

Here is an example for unambiguous event information.
Webinar starts on Friday, March 12, 2010 at 3:30 p.m. EST (UTC-05) as in New York, USA


Teleclass starts on Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 3:30 p.m. EDT (UTC-04) as in New York, USA.

Note: EST is Eastern Standard Time and EDT is Eastern Daylight Savings Time.

John W. Furst

P.S.: Especially US marketers seem to be unaware of — or lazy about — timezone issues that go beyond Eastern versus Pacific time. Check out my previous post on this subject: Email Marketing And Troubles With Timezones.

Websites And Law Across Borders (FTC versus EU)

FTC and European Union

After writing about regulations of business practices on the Internet in the USA and in Europe yesterday, one of my readers, James, asked the following question in the comments:

So should I care about the FTC? My business is in the U.K. Some sites hosted at Hostgator in the US, others here in London though. --James

Let me repeat my first answer.


Interesting and good question. I actually tipped the question off to some lawyer friends. Let's see what they come up with.

In general a business MUST respect all regulations and laws of the country where the customer -- especially a consumer -- is located.

Look at your hosting agreements with your US providers. They can pull the plug rather easily.

Hope that helps.

Let's face it, the regulations on both sides of the Atlantic are not too different altogether. It's much harder to comply with EU standards.

Disclaimer: IANAL (I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.)

Makes kind of sense, doesn't it. However, I wanted to know for sure and started some correspondence with lawyers, browsed government help sites for international trade issues, and news a bit.

Separate Website For Each Jurisdiction

The best solution would be to have a website for each jurisdiction and comply with the local standards there to the letter. That's actually what Amazon, Ebay, Paypal, and many international brands are doing (the really big businesses).

Too much effort for the little business probably, especially when starting out.

On the other hand one can be at a big advantage when offering a sought after product in the purchaser's native language in that national market. It's also interesting from the standpoint of SEO as it can be much easier to dominate a smaller, national market nice (should use country level domain, e.g., .de, .es, .uk, …).

Two thoughts (without proof):
  • Clickbank (world largest market place for digital products) reports growing sales of information products in foreign languages like Spanish, German, and French.

  • Ever thought about developing a product and licensing a foreign language version to someone else who will deal with all the local legal issues?
    Think about it.

Fully Comply With Either One Jurisdiction

Consumer protection laws on both sides of the Atlantic kick in as soon as consumers file complaints. Therefore, some businesses focus on implementing the regulations where they have most of their customers.

Of course, this can get you in trouble locally.

For example: The legislation on how to handle shipping cost in case of a customer return is more relaxed in the USA than it is in Europe. Or anti-spam laws are more rigorous in Europe as well, even in business to business scenarios.

You better comply with the rules of the government that you have to pay taxes to as they can get to you quickly. But you shouldn't screw your oversea customers as well.

By the way:

If your non-compliance, earnings, (possible fraud triggering criminal charges) are big enough the US- or any European government will hunt you down, no matter where you are. A simple non compliance with a disclosure requirement for example can be interpreted as being a criminal fraud.

One internationally operating lawyer I corresponded with pointed at a case of a UK citizen who was extradited from Australia where he lived at the time to the USA. He pleaded guilty for having violated US e-commerce laws and is serving a five year term in a US federal prison. Not funny at all.

I didn't ask how big this fish was, but does it really matter?

Coming back to my initial statement:
“An ethical business should treat its customers as they can be expected to be treated as they are usually treated where thy live.”

You might not like those new regulations, they even might hurt your sales in the short run, … but only if you continue to do business on the fringe.

Don't risk violating the law in any country especially if you are making a nice full time income or more. Which brings me to in my opinion good a solution for small to medium businesses.

Hybrid Website Serving A Good Legal Mix

The major goal here is to optimally protect the business from a legal standpoint of view in both jurisdictions.

This is certainly not achieved by picking which regulations to comply with at random. An expert is required to balance the risk of getting prosecuted in any jurisdiction versus the customer experience.


The first job of your lawyer is to protect your business from governments and from not so honest customers respectively prospects.

Customer experience is the job of your business.

If your goal is to provide superior customer experience, I don't think that you will have problems with any legislation (in most cases) if you exercise due diligence.

John W. Furst
Not a lawyer: This article reflects my personal
opinion is not any form of legal advice.

Regulations Advertisers in USA and EU Should Know About – FTC and European Commission

Due to the latest announcement of changes in regulations for advertisers in the USA, a lot of people talk, write, and speculate about that subject.

Situation In The USA

I published my opinion about an hour ago as a separate note: The core elements can be summarized as follow:
  • Disclose the use of affiliate links on your sites and in your social media profiles.
  • Disclose any form of relationship when writing about commercial products and services. Even if you only got a free sample worth $0.99
  • Monitor your affiliates and publishers for compliance with the new regulations.
  • Always tell the truth.
  • Think twice before showing specific results in testimonials.
  • Last but not least don't use fake blogs with made up reviews and those kind of things.
You may want to read my entire note.

October 10, 2009

The most important pages to read in the FTC PDF document are pages: 55-81.
  FTC: Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising
  [377 KiBytes, 81 pages, PDF document]

Advertisements are evaluated from the perspective of a typical consumer.
Three important questions.

(a) Whose opinion is displayed? (average consumer, the advertiser, an expert in that field, ...)
(b) Are there reasons this opinion could have been influenced by the advertiser?
(c) What are the results a typical, average customer can expect?

(Very soon anything without a disclaimer will look suspicious. :-) )

Situation In The European Union

Let's not forget, the Internet is more or less a medium without national borders.

I mean to say, it is likely that any website targeted to US consumers will effect some of the 500 million consumers in the European union as well.

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