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  What Do I Need to Know About Content for My eCommerce Website?

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When you run an eCommerce business, your website is your primary retail tool. Your eCommerce site will include various content, including product and service information. For example, you may include your social media and blog posts about the area of the industry you cover on your online store. This may entice your target audience of potential customers to gain new customers for eCommerce brands. It can also promote brand awareness through eCommerce marketing. 

It is essential to be aware of the points you need to know and look out for when including content on your eCommerce website. Whilst you may own your website, you may not always own your content. However, there are times when you may want it to be. This article will explain what you need to know about content for your eCommerce website in the UK.

What is Website Content?

Website content for your eCommerce business can cover many things. It can be, for example:

  • written;
  • audio; or
  • visual.

Therefore, the website content may include the following, for example:

  • logos;
  • photos;
  • marketing copy;
  • blogs; and 
  • podcasts.

What Do I Need to Know About Content for My eCommerce Website? 

When you include content in your eCommerce website, you need to be aware of some legal points. One of these is those relating to intellectual property (IP) rights. IP rights relate to who owns the content and stop others from stealing it. It is possible for IP to be owned by more than one business or person and to be sold or transferred.

When you display content in many forms on your website, you need to be clear as an internet business owner who owns the rights to the content. You also need to ensure website users understand that the rights to the content are with the owner. To do this, you should ensure each web page says the rights are proprietary regarding who owns the rights to it.

The types of intellectual property that may be relevant, for example, to your website include:

  • copyright;
  • trademarks;
  • patents; and
  • database rights.
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User Generated Content

If your eCommerce site allows internet users to create content, you must ensure that your website’s terms of use clearly state who owns the right to this content. 

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You may ask your users for a licence, similar to how Facebook does. You can also require a licence for other content areas on your website produced by others.

Written Content and Graphic Designs

Some businesses use their eCommerce websites to produce a lot of written content. For example, in the form of:

  • blogs;
  • articles;
  • news; and 
  • guides. 

This can be produced directly by you or, for example, by employees in your online business.  If it is the latter, you need to think about the IP rights for this and clarify them. When your business’s employees produce content for your eCommerce site, you will usually have intellectual property rights for this. This is a statutory right for employers, and you can reinforce this in their employment contracts. This would apply, for example, to your marketing team, which looks after branding and content. 

You should be wary, though, because if you ask an employee to produce website content that is separate from their job description, it is unclear if you own the IP rights. This applies to written content and other content, such as graphic design.

If you are a small business, you will likely commission your written content for your website. You may also do this for the graphic design of your site. Copyright for commissioned content initially applies to the writer or designer who worked on it for your eCommerce brand. Therefore, if you wish to have IP rights, you must have a written contract with the person and classify that copyright is assigned to your internet brand. 

Key Takeaways

As an internet business, your eCommerce website will have a range of content, including audio, written, and visual, such as photos and blogs. An important thing you need to know about content for your eCommerce website is intellectual property (IP) rights. This concerns who owns the content on your website and can prevent others from stealing it. Types of IP include patents, copyrights, and trademarks. It is essential to let internet users know who owns the content. 

You need to be clear about IP rights in your terms of use regarding user-generated content. Your written content may be written by your employees. If it is, this usually means you own the rights to it as you have a statutory right. If you commission content such as written or graphic content, IP rights usually belong to the person you commission unless the contract between you says they are assigned to your eCommerce business.  

If you need help understanding content for your eCommerce website in the UK, LegalVision’s experienced eCommerce lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. So call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page.

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Clare Farmer

Clare Farmer

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