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Aug 16, 2018

On today’s episode of Just the Tips, Dean and I punch above our weight a bit by having Richard Chapo, a lawyer specializing in internet law for businesses, on the show. Richard is a business lawyer in San Diego who has been practicing for 25 years and advises small and large online businesses on how best to comply with laws applicable to conducting business online. We dig into some pretty gnarly legal stuff this week, including GDPR, collecting sales tax, and what's up with Apple and its back taxes. This is a great episode of Just the Tips that you won’t want to miss.

What is an Internet lawyer?

Sometimes the Internet may feel like a lawless land, so I had to ask Richard what he means when he calls himself an Internet lawyer. And he said that when he started out, it was just a pretty simple thing, but it’s become increasingly complex over the years, including sophisticated privacy statutes like GDPR, shifting sales tax questions and copyright issues. If you have an online business, or even just an online component to your business (as many do), you need to listen to this week’s episode of Just the Tips.

What do business owners need to watch out for online?

Richard, of course, watches the space closely for any legal issues that may pop up, and it’s fascinating to hear him run through examples big and small of mistakes people make online. He cited everything from Apple owing massive back taxes in Europe, to very small companies making mistakes early on that become huge problems as they scale, to casinos failing to properly disclose information in promotional videos. The legal world is, as always, a minefield, but luckily Richard knows where the mines are buried. This is truly a unique and fascinating episode of Just the Tips.

What do businesses have to do with GDPR?

Of course one of the most prominent laws impacting online businesses this year has been GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation passed in the EU focused on data protection and privacy. As Richard says, the right to privacy in the EU is as valued as the right to free speech in the U.S., and GDPR is the enforcement of that right. As Richard says, a company’s decision to comply with GDPR should be based on the cost of compliance. If you have only 10 sales in the EU, but the cost of compliance is $10,000, maybe it makes more sense to not sell in the EU than comply with GDPR. We think of the Internet as a worldwide thing, but regulations like GDPR could actually segment it. Really interesting stuff from Richard on this week’s episode of Just the Tips.

Supreme Court and the state sales tax

One of the big decisions to impact businesses that sell online was South Dakota v. Wayfair, a case heard by the Supreme Court in June. As Richard says, the legal precedent on whether businesses in one state that sell to another state have to pay the sales tax in that other state came from the 1970s and was based on catalog sales. And it held that businesses did not have to pay that sales tax. But things have changed, in June the Supreme Court reversed that decision. What does that mean for your business? Well, Just the Tips is always here for the free legal advice, so you have to listen to this episode!

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:28] What is an Internet lawyer?
  • [4:44] What do business owners need to watch out for online?
  • [7:39] What mistakes do people make?
  • [16:38] Complying with international law
  • [21:28] GDPR
  • [29:00] Supreme Court and the sales tax
  • [29:47] How Erik audits a company’s marketing
  • [38:36] Don’t let this stuff stop you from selling online

Musicfor “Just The Tips” is titled, “Happy Happy Game Show” by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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