12 most applicable laws for the online pro

Copyright laws, contracts, disclosure guidelines—it’s enough to make a communicator’s head spin. Here’s a plain English guide to stay on the right side of the law.

While it does seem Zappa was onto something when he said this, the fact is, as businesspeople and citizens, we are subject to a host of laws and legal guidelines whether or not we want to be. Selective or random law enforcement is also a reality we must deal with.

And as anyone who’s been stopped for speeding while other cars speed by knows, “They’re doing it, too!” is never a good defense. Thinking you can individually opt-out of a law isn’t going to serve you well, either.

Knowing the laws that affect you is the first step to making sure you raise the bar, not only for you and your business, but for your competition, as well.

These 12 laws applicable to online pros will help keep you on track:

1. Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives any person the right to access records from a U.S. governmental agency. How long it will take to get the records will vary by agency, and there is often a fee associated with obtaining these records. Also keep in mind that not every bit of information is accessible. Be aware of the nine exemptions and three exclusions that may prevent your access.

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