Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money online by promoting different products or brands. Every affiliate marketer should be aware of the legal concerns and regulations of this field. These regulations have a purpose and are meant to protect the company, the affiliates, and the customers. This means that following these regulations is not only a legal concern but also a moral responsibility.
When choosing a company or brand to promote, it is important to do careful research. This will help ensure that the products promoted come from a respectable source, which can help protect the affiliate as well as the customers. Choosing a company that does not deliver the promised products will not only hurt the customers but also cause some blame to be attached to the affiliate. Representing a small, relatively-unknown company can also have risks. If the company fails, it may be difficult to extract any payment that has been earned. It is also important to know local regulations when choosing a company. For example, one cannot be an Amazon affiliate in the state of Colorado.
Purchasing contact lists can be another legal concern. It is important to only use lists of potential customers who have given permission to be contacted by affiliates. Email marketing can be very profitable, but using illegal lists developed by spammers or obtaining email information through unscrupulous methods can have consequences.
When using email marketing, it is vital to be aware of current laws and regulations, such as the CAN-SPAM Act. These rules require specific guidelines to be met when contacting potential customers through email. Some examples are that false or deceptive headers and subject lines cannot be used, the message must be identified as an ad, and recipients must be clearly told how to opt out and any attempts to do so should be immediately honored. Affiliates are also required to monitor what sub-affiliates are doing on their behalf. Similar rules are required through agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, so email marketing regulations are only a small part of the legal concerns faced by affiliate marketers.
The FTC has a few regulations designed to prohibit unfair practices and deceptive advertising. An example of these regulations is that any relationship, financial or otherwise, with those providing testimonials or endorsements must be clearly stated. Not only will the advertiser be liable for any false or deceptive statements made in an endorsement or testimonial, but also the person making the statement. It is also necessary to disclose the “generally expected performance” of a product rather than just the best results recorded. It is required that disclosures are clear, conspicuous, appear frequently, and require no action on the part of the consumer. This means that the consumer should not have to click on anything to find the disclosure, which should be as large if not larger than the rest of the text and be in a color that stands out.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, also states a few rules for affiliate marketers. Generally these rules are meant to prevent illegal use of copyrighted sound recordings, videos, and other content. Marketers cannot simply use another person or organization’s property without citations, paying royalties, permission, licensing, or in some cases all of these. This act made circumventing anti-piracy software illegal, as well as requiring licensing fees to be paid to record companies when using a webcast. It also outlawed the manufacturing, sales, and distribution of certain code-cracking devices.
These are a few of the major legal regulations affiliate marketers must follow. These laws have been made to protect everyone involved in the transactions. Keeping informed of all the current legal concerns can protect affiliate marketers themselves, as well as their customers.