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Recording: Easy FTC Compliance Seminar - What You Need to Do, Step-by-Step

Serial Entrepreneur Robert Skrob
Serial Entrepreneur Robert Skrob

The recording of a free tele-seminar call from last Thursday is online now.

Easy FTC Compliance Seminar – What You Need to Do, Step-by-Step (↑)

The host Robert Skrob (↑) discusses with his guests — both experienced lawyers in Internet respectively direct response marketing and related fields — Peter Hoppenfeld (↑) and Michael E. Young (↑). If I remember correctly the call is about 1 hour 12 minutes and packed with great information.

They do not simply rehash general information that’s already circulating on the Internet about those new FTC guidelines in effect since December 1, 2009 in the USA. This is an advanced call for experienced marketers.

Actually they start answering real world questions from their members right away.
Not only that I was listening live myself, I also had submitted a question which was answered during the call.
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FTC Changes For Internet Marketers Coming Up Fast Dec. 01, 2009

Minisite Marketing Expert Jim Edwards
Internet Marketing Expert - Jim Edwards

New rules and guidelines for online Internet marketers and vendors are coming up fast. The date they become effective in the USA is Tuesday, December 1, 2009.

I guess some webmasters will be busy over the weekend to update their sites if they have not taken action earlier.

But what is this all about anyway?

Why not ask an expert?

Jim Edwards did.

FTC - Federal Trade Commission

FTC (Federal Trade Commission) Clarifies New Internet Marketing, Blogging & Affiliate Advertising Guidelines With Jim Edwards (↑)

I strongly recommend you go over there and take opportunity to get this FREE information. Jim offers you 3 options.
  1. Webinar Video Replay

  2. Webinar Audio Replay

  3. PDF Transcript

    (The PDF version is for Jim’s email subscribers only. But guess what, you can sign up for his list on the spot.)
Get all that legal info for FREE.

Jim Edwards interviews Rich Cleland, Assistant Deputy FTC (↑)

In previous posts I have also written about those changes in guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission in the USA for Internet marketing practices. I also wrote about similar — even tighter — legislation for Internet marketers in the EU (European Union).

At this point I want to thank Andy Beard (↑) who mentioned this interview in his latest blog post, “Harder Facts About Comment Spam (↑).”

Take a legal notepad, some time in the evening and listen to that valuable information. Or at least get the PDF for later reference. No idea how long it will be online.

Enjoy the weekend.

John W. Furst

New FTC Rules: The Clock Is Ticking

John W. Furst
is asking, “Who Is This Internet Lawyer?”

In previous posts I have written about changes in guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission in the USA which will affect Internet marketing practices effective December 01, 2009. I also mentioned similar legislation for Internet marketers in the EU (European Union).

Of course, I am not a lawyer and what I write or say only reflects my opinion. And as much I like to discuss legal matters on a theoretical basis with business friends late at night sometimes, I really do not like the day to day implications of laws at all. That does not mean that I can ignore them.

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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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