Internet advertising in the light of the law, part AND

Service Business

It cannot be denied that Internet advertising is an attractive way to promote goods and services - it is influenced by many factors. Just a few years after its introduction and development, it dominated the previously traditional advertising media. The biggest advantages include global access, which allows virtually every consumer in the world to see the advertisement, if it is located on the selected page. An undoubted advantage is also the low cost, which cannot be said even about TV advertising. In the case of online advertising, we determine where and at what time recipients can view the advertisement, e.g. based on the measurement of the frequency of visits.

Thanks to numerous marketing research, we can also profile the selected message much better, which means that on a page devoted to a selected topic (e.g. technological innovations) you can place an advertisement for computer equipment, thus increasing the chance for greater interest and, consequently, the purchase of goods / services. Moreover, this type of advertisement will be permanent and may actually be published for a much longer period than broadcast on television or radio - due to the greater range and interest. The following years brought about significant changes on the internet advertising market. Not only are new types of advertising visible, the legal framework for displaying new forms of advertising has also changed.

It cannot be denied that at the time when Internet advertising began, there were no restrictions in this regard. For this reason, various forms of promoting products and services have been created, which in the minds of Internet users are perceived as undesirable and unethical. The best example of this is spam, the use of which can have serious consequences for businesses - from mailbox blocking, to removal from search engine rankings and even legal proceedings. Adware and spyware are equally unpleasant forms of advertising - their task is not only to promote selected goods, but also to monitor the computer on which these programs have been installed (usually unknowingly). It has therefore become clear that the display of such new promotional materials as internet advertising should be legally regulated. In the first place, it was necessary to answer the question: what types of advertising are allowed on the web?

Internet advertising in the light of Polish law

Poland is one of the leading countries most often attacked by hackers. Firstly, because of the recklessness of users visiting questionable websites or opening e-mails of unknown origin. On the other hand, this state of affairs is largely influenced by the lack of strict legal regulations regarding online advertising, which to this day many Internet users simply equate with spam or various types of viruses. Although it is hard to believe, Polish law has not yet included separate acts that would comprehensively regulate the way internet advertising works. This does not mean, of course, that there are no restrictions. In the domestic Internet, it is forbidden to advertise all kinds of stimulants (including alcohol and tobacco products) and prescription drugs. Here, however, we can find exceptions - e.g. weaker alcohols - such as beers - or some drugs with a clear indication of how they should be used and for what purpose. It is worth getting acquainted with the provision of Art. 16b in detail. The Broadcasting Act of December 29, 1992

Art. 16b.

1. It is forbidden to broadcast advertising:

1) tobacco products, tobacco props, products imitating tobacco products or tobacco props and symbols related to the use of tobacco, within the scope regulated by the Act of November 9, 1995 on the protection of health against the consequences of using tobacco and tobacco products (Journal of Laws of 1996, No. 10, item 55, as amended);

2) alcoholic beverages, to the extent regulated by the Act of October 26, 1982 on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism (Journal of Laws of 2007, No. 70, item 473, as amended);

3) medical services within the meaning of the Act of 30 August 1991 on health care establishments (Journal of Laws of 2007, No. 14, item 89, as amended), provided only on the basis of a doctor's referral;

4) medicinal products, within the scope regulated by the Act of 6 September 2001 - Pharmaceutical Law (Journal of Laws of 2008, No. 45, item 271, as amended);

5) cylindrical games, card games, dice games, mutual wagering, slot machine games, within the scope regulated by the Gambling Act of 19 November 2009 (Journal of Laws No. 201, item 1540 and of 2010, no. 127, item 857).

It is worth noting that in addition to the laws introduced by the parliament, there are also codes voluntarily created by associating entrepreneurs from a selected industry - also in Poland. For example: in our country, the so-called a code of marketing conduct in relation to tobacco products - its purpose is to protect entrepreneurs against unfair and aggressive competition. It is worth adding that this is one of the first initiatives of this type in Eastern Europe.

In turn, on April 8, 2005, the Advertising Code of Polish Breweries was created, which was voluntarily signed by over 90% of beer producers in Poland - the document contained both the rules of conduct when advertising brewing products, as well as penal sanctions in the event of non-compliance with the adopted rules. The above examples show that self-respecting companies, even with protection from legal authorities, can cope quite well with unfair competition.

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Internet advertising and unfair competition

When it comes to protecting entrepreneurs against unfair competition, the legal act regulating this issue is the Act of April 16, 1993 on combating unfair competition. A particularly important provision was included in Art. 16.1, which explains what an act of unfair competition is in terms of advertising - Internet advertising will also be such an act.

Art. 16.

1. An act of unfair competition in the field of advertising is in particular:

1) advertising contrary to the provisions of law, morality or offending human dignity,

2) advertising that misleads the customer and may therefore influence his decisions regarding the purchase of goods or services,

3) advertising referring to the feelings of customers by causing fear, using superstitions or credulity of children,

4) statement which, while encouraging the purchase of goods or services, gives the impression of neutral information,

5) advertising, which constitutes a significant interference in the sphere of privacy, in particular by harassing customers in public places that are burdensome for customers, sending goods not ordered at the customer's expense or abusing technical means of communication.

It is worth adding to the above article the issue of the addressee of legal liability. The unfair competition is the responsibility not only of the company that owns an advertisement that does not meet the above standards, but also an advertising agency or an independent entrepreneur who was responsible for the creation of this advertisement (e.g. on commission).

To sum up, unfair advertising is understood as advertising that causes the recipient to believe that the actual state of affairs is not true. In other words, it is a type of advertising whose purpose is to manipulate the recipient by influencing various stimuli and feelings in order to convince him to buy. For example, when the actual purpose of the advertised good is different than shown in the advertisement. This issue was explained in detail in the provision of the Court of Appeal in Gdańsk of November 6, 1996:

According to the court judicature, an advertisement which is contrary to morality is considered to be an advertisement which, using the recipient's credulity justified by circumstances and an average inability to make complicated associations and inference based on the text displaying the content desired by the advertiser, causes the average recipient to believe that there is facts that do not actually take place, thereby creating a feeling of disappointment, disregard or even cheating.