Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

COPPA


Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.

  • You cannot reply to this topic
8 replies to this topic

#1 Dark_Oppressor   Members   -  Reputation: 159

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 18 December 2011 - 12:19 AM

So, I am almost finished with my first commercial (indie) game, and I've formed an LLC, settled up with the feds, etc. I live in the US. My site has got forums, and one of the few things I am still trying to figure out is how I want to handle this COPPA thing. I understand that you must do some annoying paperwork, or you can just forbid people under 13 from registering to avoid the whole issue.

If any of you have your own companies, websites, whatever, what have you opted to do?

Sponsor:

#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21323

Like
3Likes
Like

Posted 19 December 2011 - 12:18 AM

Before going live this is one of many topics to discuss with your lawyer.

Most of the stuff will be boilerplate but it is still important to have your lawyer review it to ensure you comply with the law.

Most sites can comply with the law by simply asking the person their age (with specific language) as the age check. If they are underage you provide a form (provided by your lawyer) requiring a parent to either fax or mail back, or (if your state allows it) click-back via email.

That returned form, or the electronic clickback version, must be kept on file until the child comes of age, AND you must keep it and eventually destroy it according to the terms of your written data destruction policy that every small business should also have their lawyer help with.

That is assuming you have a data destruction policy, which is a good idea as I'm sure your lawyer can explain; I've only been hit once with somebody wanting old stuff and it is so nice to simply know that I was in the clear because of the simple policy. I have a friend who had some problems that took a few thousand dollars to clear up (read:pay the guy to settle and quit causing problems) simply because he didn't have a written data destruction policy in place.


COPPA is just one of a few hundred bits of nuance you will want to actually discuss with a real live lawyer.


For my site, I follow my lawyer's advice of asking the age (with language my lawyer provided me), and a form (also provided by the lawyer) and have digital copies that get kept until the month after the child supposedly turns 13, simply by storing by expiration date. Then they are purged with the normal records-policy purge.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#3 Dark_Oppressor   Members   -  Reputation: 159

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 19 December 2011 - 04:02 PM

Thanks for the response! My current leaning (even more so after your reply) is to just say kids can't use the forums. That sounds like a ridiculous hassle to run a bloody forum. (Sidebar: this country certainly has a lot of red tape for starting/running something very simple...)

I have no lawyer, and I've been assuming they are insanely far out of my price range. Any idea how expensive it would be to get someone to help me with all of this paperwork? So far, I've been relying on Google+forums+government websites.

#4 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21323

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 19 December 2011 - 06:24 PM

Thanks for the response! My current leaning (even more so after your reply) is to just say kids can't use the forums. That sounds like a ridiculous hassle to run a bloody forum. (Sidebar: this country certainly has a lot of red tape for starting/running something very simple...)

I have no lawyer, and I've been assuming they are insanely far out of my price range. Any idea how expensive it would be to get someone to help me with all of this paperwork? So far, I've been relying on Google+forums+government websites.

Most of it is simple paperwork. Those "hassles" are based on real problems that people have had in the past, problems that have cost fortunes to resolve. In an effort to prevent the problems in the future rules were established (laws and court precedence) that make it easier and cheaper for everyone in the future. You can choose to think of them has hassles, or you can choose to think of them as requirements of doing business, just like requirements for compiling code.

As for not having a business lawyer, that is something you should change. Their actual pay depends on location, but if you have done your homework the simple paperwork of starting a business is inexpensive.

IIRC it cost me about $300 total (2x 45 minute visits plus some email) when getting started. Mine charges $150/hr, and when I shopped around that was a fairly common price for basic business lawyers in my area. Your location will vary.

Think of it as insurance. As my friend mentioned above discovered, the cost of missing a simple detail (data destruction policy) for him was a few thousand dollars when some disgruntled person was upset with him. There are many examples (search the web) about how a such simple "hassles" are important facets of starting up a business.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#5 Dark_Oppressor   Members   -  Reputation: 159

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 19 December 2011 - 07:44 PM

Yes, that is about what I figured, as far as price goes. That is really a bit outside my price range, as I am doing this on the side, and don't even know if I'll make any money. Regardless, I am attempting to find a business lawyer in my area, but no luck so far. All I can find are things about bankruptcy, divorce, etc. Would "business lawyer" be the right thing to search for?

Oh, and I had another question. If I were to get a lawyer to help with this stuff, is it all just pretty much one-time paperwork to be dealt with? So far the only ongoing costs I have (aside from making games!) are website-related.

#6 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 30387

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 19 December 2011 - 07:55 PM

Seems much cheaper to just force 12 year olds to lie about their age Posted Image

#7 Dark_Oppressor   Members   -  Reputation: 159

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 19 December 2011 - 08:07 PM

Seems much cheaper to just force 12 year olds to lie about their age Posted Image


Yes, that is kind of where I am leaning. I do like the idea of having someone who has read the inside of the top of the box go over all of the paperwork with me, but I don't know if I will be able to afford it unless the game I'm making actually sells.

I'm thinking maybe I set things up, tell 12 year olds they can't have a forum account (at least for now), and try to sell this thing. If it doesn't sell, then ok. If it does, I'll move forward with the lawyering, etc. Of course, if I find a lawyer and I can actually afford it, I'll just do it now, I think.

#8 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21323

Like
2Likes
Like

Posted 19 December 2011 - 08:35 PM

Yes, that is about what I figured, as far as price goes. That is really a bit outside my price range, as I am doing this on the side, and don't even know if I'll make any money. Regardless, I am attempting to find a business lawyer in my area, but no luck so far. All I can find are things about bankruptcy, divorce, etc. Would "business lawyer" be the right thing to search for?

Oh, and I had another question. If I were to get a lawyer to help with this stuff, is it all just pretty much one-time paperwork to be dealt with? So far the only ongoing costs I have (aside from making games!) are website-related.

Yes, it is one-time work.

When setting up the appointment spend time on the phone discussing what forms you know you will need (including COPPA, ToS, Privacy, EULA) and also consider sending him the version you are hoping to use.

If you have not already incorporated or have not set up as a DBA or non-incorporated personal business, the lawyer should go through the details. You should discuss what licensing is required, in the US your options are generally to either not incorporate and do it under your own name, or to incorporate to an LLC or S-Corp where the money is directed to you; mostly that boils down to taxes and liability and the ability to hire people and get funding. Regardless of that choice, states have their own laws and will require you to register with them even if you don't incorporate. Many states will require a DBA license even if you choose to not incorporate; in my state it is the same cost for incorporated businesses and non-incorporated businesses ($56 the first year, much less to renew). Next there are cities, many will require a business license if you call your home an office and you make more than a tiny amount of money. In my city is a $200/yr license for anyone earning more than $600/yr from a home business, which is a common thing for big cities that are hurting for money and don't face opposition because sheeple don't care and assume it is a corporate thing for huge businesses, not realizing it hits their neighbors and micro-businesses.

Finally you need to make sure you know the tax requirements. Even if you only sell your software online you must be very careful to never ever keep government from tax money.

There are many other business policy questions you should discuss if you have questions about them. You learn about them by reading business books. Business development is just as complex as software development; both take many years of effort in order to reach competency. Building a game is easy in comparison to building a business.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#9 Dark_Oppressor   Members   -  Reputation: 159

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 11 January 2012 - 11:45 PM

Forgive the late reply! Thanks for all of the advice. I have gotten in touch with a lawyer, and I think I'm about set.




Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.



PARTNERS