Internet children’s publishing site I intend to launch a web based small press…

Internet children’s publishing site
I intend to launch a web based small press & young writer’s workshop. Content will be provided by self, select individuals and submissions from young writers. In an effort to minimize costs, I would like to structure it as a sole propriotorship. My only reservations concern liability etc. Would providing a terms of use clause, restrictions, and indemnifications protect me personally? Or am I placing myself at risk in the event that some individual finds content problematic or what ever unforseeable complaint that may arise? How may a sole propratore protect himself ? Or is it not possilbe?

3 thoughts on “Internet children’s publishing site I intend to launch a web based small press…

  1. Re: Internet children’s publishing site
    In addition to thinking about what kind of business entity to use, may I suggest that you investigate the availability and cost of insurance to protect your business. Publisher’s liability insurance is a customary line of specialized business insurance.

    Gerry Elman
    Elman Technology Law, P.C.
    Intellectual Property & Internet Business Law, PO Box 209
    Swarthmore, PA 19081-0209

  2. Re: Internet children’s publishing site
    You can and should limit your exposure by including clearly drafted and comprehensive terms of use (including a broad indemnity, a cap on monetary damages, a consequential damages waiver and other such provisions)on your website. However, as a sole proprietor, you will still be personally responsible for answering/fighting all legal claims against the company. Even if you ultimately prevail in defending such claims, you will still have expended your own assets in doing so. For example, you can and should require your users to indemnify you from third party infringement claims (a claim by a third party that work posted by on your site by one of your users infringes the third party’s copyright). However, such a provision will not prevent third parties from suing you if one of your users posts allegedly infringing work on your site. You would then have to answer the claim and either try to bring the user into the lawsuit to defend the claim or defend the claim yourself and then try to seek the costs of the defense (and damages if you lose) from the user. Either way, you’ll need a lawyer and you’ll be spending your own money. For this reason, you may want to seriously consider a corporate form for your company. As you may know, a corporation is considered a person unto itself (separate and apart from you) under the law. Thus, if someone sues the corporation, your personal assets would, ordinarily, be considered separate an would not be at risk. In addition, you would not normally be expected to use your own assets to defend claims against the corporation. The corporation would spend its own money on the defense. If the corporation fails to answer the claim, a default judgment would be entered against it (not you personally), but if it has no money, the plaintiff is generally out of luck. In this scenario (whether the corporation answers rthe claim or fails to do so), you will not have to expend your own assets on the defense, and you will not be personally liable even if the corporation fails to answer and has a default judgment entered against it. So the upshot is that as a practical matter, the corporate form provides you with greater protection than you can achieve by contract as sole proprietor. You should note that it is possible under certain circustances for a plaintiff to “pierce the corporate veil” and go after the assets of the individual(s) running the company (you). But ordinarily, you would be shielded from personal liability for acts of the corporation.

    Brian Greenberg
    Law Office of Brian Greenberg
    305 Broadway, 7th Floor
    New York, NY 10007-1109

  3. Re: Internet children’s publishing site
    A sole proprietor cannot protect himself against liability. To protect yourself, you would have to form a limited liability company (LLC).

    Harold Burstyn
    Harold L. Burstyn Attorney-at-Law
    216 Bradford Parkway
    Syracuse, NY 13224-1767

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