How the FTC Compensation Disclosure Guidelines
(December 1st 2009) Impact You
[Please note that this is not legal advice. Please consult your Internet Business Lawyer to address your specific legal concerns.]
In a previous article, we discussed the requirements for disclosure required by the new FTC rules. Here I want to present some information on how to implement changes that will allow you to be compliant with those requirements.
So, What Do I Have to DO To Implement These FTC Guidelines?
For those who are not brand new to network and affiliate marketing, I highly recommend this free (recorded) call by Robert Skrob on “Easy FTC Compliance Secrets”. This call will help you understand some simple changes you will make that will keep your butt outta the fire!
This audio, combined with the PDF by Mr. Young, brings you about as current as is possible on this topic at the time. It’s the best and most complete information I’ve found so far (although there are probably others). Something I didn’t cover is how this affects our need for privacy policies and terms of service for our blogs. That topic however is two-fold because its also important for SEO. I will give Privacy Policies and Disclosure Forms better coverage in an upcoming post.
As far as WHEN do you have to implement them… the rules went into effect in December of 2009, meaning if you currently are not compliant, you are breaking the law.
How Are The Big League Guys Getting Compliant?
Two of affiliate/network marketings biggest and most well-known names, Frank Kern & Eban Pagan, have made interesting implementations of these rules that I think we are keen to copy:
(Note: ***’s were used to replace the actual copy contained in the original email below so as to mask the e-addresses and the referenced affiliate link.)
From: xxxxx@***xxxxxxx.com [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Frank Kern
Sent: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 2:54 PM
Subject: WARNING (duh)
Warning #1: The results in this new video are NOT typical,
but they are still cool.
Warning #2: You have to opt in to watch it (the horror!).
Warning #3: If you buy something as a result of watching this,
I’ll get paid money and I will almost certainly squander it on
shiny things (or candy, or something equally stupid).
With that said, this is an awesome video about a NEW and
exciting way to make some serious dinero.
Here is my cleverly disguised affiliate link:
show details Jan 11 (7 days ago)
Go watch this new video:
You might not be interested in learning how to start a
“CPA” business or an affiliate marketing business… but
the video is killer anyway.
HINT: A good friend of mine helped these guys design
this entire video, and it’s DANGEROUS marketing.
These guys don’t even have a normal “sales letter” on
their site – ONLY this video.
Now, if you ARE interested in having a CPA business,
then the program they’re talking about will really blow
In any event, watch the video. Here’s the link again:
Note: If you decide to buy stuff after you watch their
video, I get paid as an affiliate. But make sure you watch
this video no matter what. It’s one of the best examples
of powerful video marketing I’ve ever seen.
And this, from Mari Smith’s Ezine footer:
Psst – a wee secret: yes, almost all the links in this eZine are big hairy affiliate links. Just keeping you in the loop; in exchange for bringing you some of the best education and resources out there, my partners pay me a commission for any sales. Did you know the FTC are starting to enforce full disclosure rules on affiliate marketing for bloggers? Thought I’d mention in my eZine!
What If I Don’t Live in the USA or Work For/With A Company from the USA? How Am I Affected?
I’m going to use Australia as my example because Mike Young mentioned it specifically, and because many of my readers are Australian. This section is true for my understanding of any country with which the USA has a Free Trade Agreement.
It is my understanding that Australia not only has a free trade agreement with the US, but ALSO an extradition policy. This means if your dealing with US clients or customers in the least manner, then you are help responsible to US FTC regulars AND could be extradited to be tried on American soil. What you do, on Aussie soil with Aussie customers, is your own concern
(Definition of extradition: the surrender of an accused or convicted person by one state or country to another (usually under the provisions of a statute or treaty)
The location of you AND the parent company apparently makes little difference. If you are doing business with Americans, free trade agreements between most countries apparently bind you to observing these rules when dealing with Americans. This means, if you post a link, and an American opens it, and you do not specifically EXCLUDE Americans (which is a whole other breech of free trade if your country observes it), then you have broke the rules.
A British fellow, living in Australia, that breaks the rules, can … under the Free Trade agreement and further.. an Extradition policy which exists between Australia and the US… be arrested and SHIPPED to the US to stand trial and also may be held in prison on American soil even though he never originally set foot on American soil. While this has not happened specific to the affiliate/networking industry, it HAS happened from a small business perspective.
We ARE a global world now. These things are tricky and VERY worth staying on top of to protect yourself.
If you yourself are operating from Canada, and dealing with US customers/clients, you are bound by BOTH USA and Canadian FTC regulations as far as I understand. As for operating from countries without free trade agreements with the US, I really don’t know. Also, as far as dealing with citizens within your OWN country, there you are only bound by internal FTC arrangements.
Look for some additional posts on this topic coming up in the weeks ahead! I have several things yet to share!
Hopefully this answer’s some of your initial compliance issues. Of course, if you’re like me your now kinda sitting back, taking in the full scope of just how many people are seriously NOT in compliance, and wondering where the first ax from the FTC will fall. Compliance with the FTC policies for bloggers & email marketers are the easiest to implement physically. A few of you have already noted a few changes to my site with more to come soon. Facebook and other non-micro-blogging platforms where character limitations are not drastic, are not extremely difficult to comply even if it requires leaving a comment to your own message. The real kicker for social media networking is Twitter, where every single character is valuable. Check back for an upcoming post on twitter compliance and the problems/solutions involved. Also, this post mostly covered disclaimers and we still need to address disclosures as the other half of this issue.
So what are your thoughts on where we in networking and affiliate marketing stand under the new guidelines? What changes will you – and won’t you – make to come into compliance? What will it take for you to decide that now is the time to GET compliant? Share your thoughts, leave a comment and lets compare notes!
PS: Check out part 3 (coming soon!) for the FTC and the Trouble with Twitter!