Legal Handbook Guides Online Publishers Through Legal Maze

01 November 2002

Bird & Bird has worked with the UK Association of Online Publishers (AOP) to produce a new handbook aimed at raising awareness of legal traps that can loom for online publishers. Written by Bird & Bird partner and internet law expert Graham Smith, “Publishing Online: The Legal Issues” was launched at a special AOP members breakfast briefing forum yesterday. The members of the AOP include BBC News Online, BBCi, The Economist Group, Emap, FT.com, Guardian Unlimited, Haymarket Group, Hollinger Telegraph New Media, Reed Business Information, News International and Rivals Digital Media, and also 250 online magazine publishers through corporate member PPAi (the interactive arm of the Periodical Publishers Association).

Set up in July this year, the AOP was created to represent the interests of online publishers across all areas of the interactive industry. One of the growing concerns voiced among members was a lack of clarity where a number of legal issues are concerned. In a highly accessible manner, the handbook aims to address this by casting light on practical questions such as “Are my e-mail campaigns legal?”, “How do I protect my content rights”, “How can I avoid contractual `surprises’?” and "what about cross-border issues?" As well as this, the book draws attention to the regulatory and contractual issues facing online publishers, for example, intellectual property, content rights, defamation and compliance with the new E-Commerce Regulations and the Distance Selling Regulations.

Bird & Bird’s Smith is a recognised authority on internet law and main author of the textbook “Internet Law and Regulation” (Sweet & Maxwell, 3rd ed 2002). The handbook will be offered exclusively to AOP and PPAi members.

Commenting on the launch of the book, Alex Daley, head of AOP, said:

“We are delighted to have been able to collaborate with Bird & Bird on this venture. The forum really put across the message that it is crucial to have a thorough understanding of these areas, to get advice, and to make sure that sites are compliant with recent regulations. I believe the handbook will be of real value to publishers who are committed to raising standards online.”

Commenting on the book, Bird & Bird’s Graham Smith added:

“Online publishers have vastly more legal issues to consider than do offline publishers, and it is becoming increasingly important to know the legal implications of doing business online. We are delighted to have been able to write this handbook for the AOP and very much hope that it will guide online publishers through the legal maze."

For more information, please contact Graham Smith on +44 (0) 20 7415 6000 or Larry Cattle, Director of Marketing, on +44 (0) 20 7415 6156.