Effective July 1, 2015, many websites will be required to comply with Florida’s new True Origin of Digital Goods Act. This act adds Florida to the growing list of states with laws aimed at achieving transparency in online business transactions and antipiracy efforts.
Signed into law on May 21, 2015, this new Act applies to online services available in Florida, such as websites or apps, which distribute whole media content such as downloadable songs or videos. As the law applies based on the location of users, under the letter of the law, companies outside Florida must comply. Where applicable, companies must publish true and accurate business contact information in a conspicuous manner.
This is fundamentally an antipiracy measure which applies to websites or online services that are in the business of publishing or transmitting “substantial” portions of recordings or audiovisual works, exempting websites and online services that may include excerpts from such works.
Any such business must “conspicuously disclose his or her true and correct name, physical address, and telephone number or e-mail address on his or her website or online service in a location readily accessible to a consumer using or visiting the website or online service.”
To comply with the law, contact information is to be posted (a) on the landing page, home page, or initial launch screen, (b) in an “about us” or “contact us” tab, (c) on another informational page, or (d) in any other area of the website or service commonly used to display contact information to consumers. It is doubtful that posting the required information in a long online Terms of Service would qualify as sufficient disclosure under this law.
This law is being scrutinized by free speech advocates, who think it fails to consider the right to remain anonymous online, and it may receive a court challenge. The drafters have expressly excluded its application to internet service providers, mobile radio services, and others covered by federal laws.
Lawyers at McCarter & English, LLP, routinely advise clients on preparing and maintaining online documents, such as Terms of Service and Privacy Policies, and continue to monitor the space for updates in this rapidly evolving area of the law.