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Even A Business in Cyberspace Needs Legal Protection That feeling of being unfettered on the Internet is an illusion but some basic legal documents will make it virtually real.

By Genavieve Shingle Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Virtual entrepreneurs are the new black. Our industry is rapidly expanding as more and more business owners are starting to operate completely in cyber space. And why not? Limitless potential clients, cheaper expenses, sweatpants are our uniforms…sounds divine. And for the most part, it is.

What many virtual entrepreneurs do not realize is that there are legal requirements for having this virtual presence. The two most common documents needed are "terms & conditions" and a "privacy policy."

Related: The Biggest Legal Mistake Entrepreneurs Make

Terms and conditions are a metaphorical contract between the company and those who visit the website. It sets forth the services the company provides, the limitations on liability, governing law, and the various intellectual property rights of the company, such as copyright by noting that the content on the site belongs solely to the company.

A privacy policy is for businesses that sell products on their site, collect any sort of information, such as a name and e-mail for a newsletter, etc. This privacy policy promises those who visit the site that you will neither sell their private information nor spam them with unnecessary information. It also provides that you will securely store this information. The foundation of this document is to provide peace of mind for your potential clients.

Related: Getting a Little Legal Advice

There are various state and federal laws that have specific rules on privacy policies. The Internet is, literally, the World Wide Web. Visitors from all over the world, and especially, the United States, can visit your site and expose you to the liability of that state. California is one of the strictest in terms of requiring a conspicuous privacy policy on your site. US. business owners want to make sure they're following the rules and regulations that will comply with each state in the US.

Don't just copy someone else's terms and conditions and privacy policy, thinking you can make a few tweaks for your business. That is copyright infringement. Just as you do not want anyone to copy anything from your site, this applies to other people's sites as well. These documents are written specifically for a certain business, then it belongs to that business owner.

Get yourself these two documents and protect your ass(ets).

Related: Don't Launch Your Business Without Covering These Legal Bases

Genavieve Shingle

Lawyer for Entrepreneurs

Genavieve Shingle is a lawyer for entrepreneurs and founder of Genavieve Shingle Law. She left the corporate law world to start her own practice helping businesses and entrepreneurs protect their future and dreams with accessible legal services, legal templates and a legal education program called Damsel in Defense.™ Her course can be found at www.damselindefense.ninja.

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