10 Tips for Selling Information Legally


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Do you sell (or market) information? You probably do, or at least could do. Anyone from a lawyer, accountant, web developer, trainer or marketing consultant can sell information.

Some people sell this information face to face (or even give it away), some sell it in books, some via CDs and many more on-line and an increasing amount of people sell information via an e-book (effectively a book you can download from a website). In this article we concentrate on selling information in the form of an e-book but all the issues are the same whatever format you sell your information in.

There are all the normal legal issues that apply and more. We can’t cover them all in an article and often detailed advice is needed but these are our Top Ten Tips to keep out of Court and in the info-selling business:

1. Check your business insurance covers selling an e-book or even just giving information on your website, many exclude items such as “things not usual in your business”. Some even explicitly exclude websites.

2. Try to limit your liability. You can do this by using careful and well drawn up conditions in a contract.

3. Try to make clear in the e-book that, presumably, the e-book is only information and not advice. (And don’t forget to take advice yourself!)

4. Register (or at the very least) comply with the Data Protection Act. You will be collecting data about the people who buy from you—at least you certainly should be as you will amass significant information about people who: 1. are interested in your subject, 2. will buy a book on it and 3 will buy on-line. That’s valuable information for future use. If you are not registered you will have much less flexibility in what you can do with the data and if you don’t comply with the Act then you may well get into serious trouble.

5. Make sure your marketing is legally compliant. For example don’t send e-mails to people who haven’t agreed to have them and do check any telephone numbers or addresses you buy for marketing purposes with the mailing and telephone preference services.

6. Make sure you protect your copyright in your book.

7. Pressing “ctrl” and “alt” and “c” will give you that nice little © sign for your work! (It doesn’t really have any legal effect but many potential copiers think it does, so use it).

8. Make certain that you are not publishing someone else’s intellectual property - who owns the photos, are you copying someone else’s copyrighted work?

9. If you’ve provided the information and an independent person / business has put it into software, who owns the copyright in the e-book? They do! Get it transferred to you preferably via a software development agreement.

10. Make sure that even when you have good legal wording you “capture” the agreement of the buyer correctly. Some sites simply have a link to “terms and conditions”, that is not good enough. There is no definite rule about what is good enough but we suggest you get the buyer to undergo some sort of “mental connection” with the terms, so e. g. get them to click a paragraph about them. What that paragraph should contain is a major subject in itself so do take advice.

E-books can be a great way to spread your ideas, market your business and generate income and whilst there are some areas to watch out for the benefits of selling information on-line surely outweigh those risks and are probably no more than selling off-line. Take good legal advice and these risks can be minimised and your profits protected.

To get more details contact Stuart McIntosh on 0121 308 2118 or email stuart. mcintosh@business-lawfirm.co.uk.


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