Legal aspects of a website

Eliane Spirig
Eliane Spirig

The legal framework is often forgotten when creating a website. Too much attention is paid to content, design and layout and therefore the legal aspects are ignored. We believe that there are five points which one has to consider.

1. Disclaimer (Disclaimer)

A disclaimer is used by website operators to exclude potential liability. In this context, it should be noted in advance that the legal effect of disclaimers is partly unclear and that there is some amount of legal uncertainty.

As a website operator, it is a good idea to place the disclaimer in a way that all users can view the disclaimer easily. In the event of a dispute, it should be possible to show that the user was aware of the exclusion of liability and accepted it. The placement of the disclaimer is therefore of relatively great importance.

It is also important to know that liability cannot be arbitrarily limited. Here the circumstances of the individual case and in particular the offers presented and / or sold on the website are of importance.

2. how can I protect the content of my website?

The content of a website is protected by the Swiss Copyright Act (CopA). Text, images and diagrams are automatically protected by the CopA. Special notices or the placement of copyright marks is not required under Swiss law. Special contents can at best also enjoy further protection. However, this depends on the each case and must be assessed individually.

3. do I need an imprint?

The imprint, a legally required indication of source about the person responsible, is obligatory for newspapers and magazines in Switzerland. But what does this mean for the World Wide Web? Is there also an imprint obligation for websites?

In general, there is an imprint obligation for web pagehs, on which one can refer goods or services. In sort: if something is sold on the website, an imprint is necessary. If they do not sell or offer any goods or services as a company, there is basically no obligation to provide an imprint. Nevertheless, an imprint is highly recommended, as this makes identification possible and thus strengthens trust within the relationship to costumers.

At this point, the legal consequences of a violation of the Swiss Unfair Competition Act must be pointed out. If the imprint with the correct information is missing, although there is an obligation, there are perhaps some fines. Therefore, an imprint is strongly recommended.

But which information should an imprint contain? The following points are recommended:

- First and last name of the owner or the company name

- Address or registered office of the company

- Telephone, e-mail, fax numbers or other addresses

Important is that a contact form does not replace an e-mail address!

Caution is required when offering goods or services on your website which can also be obtained by EU citizens. If this is the case, the stricter EU regulations regarding imprint obligation must be met.

4. Google Analytics & Social Networks

If Google Analytics and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn are used and included in the website, this must be clearly and explicitly communicated to the Internet user or customer.

The fastest and safest way is to inform the user in the disclaimer about the use of Google Analytics and social networks.

5. Cookies

In the EU there are clear and strict regulations when it comes to cookies. And those regulations served as a basis for Swiss legislation.

In the EU, Internet users must be made aware of the cookies from the website and explicitly agree to the use of cookies with one click.

In Switzerland it is sufficient if there is a note on the website, which states that cookies are used. However, as soon as users residing in the EU are potential customers, a simple reference is not sufficient.

It is therefore strongly recommended to request the explicit consent of the user to the use of cookies.

Nowadays, a website can be set up quickly and by anyone. Questions of design and content often dominate the creation process, leaving the legal aspects behind. This makes it all the more important to know the legal regulations and to implement them accordingly. Especially when goods and services are sold or European Union residents are potential users.


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