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The Nonprofits' Guide to Internet
Author: Bruce R. Hopkins
ISBN Number: 9780471222781
Publish Date: October 22, 2002
Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition
The Internet provides tax-exempt organizations unlimited opportunities to publicize their message and generate funds. The lack of law or legal precedent governing Internet communication, however, can create a variety of legal entanglements for nonprofits seeking to take advantage of this critical medium. Understanding both the legal basics of Internet use, as well as how the traditional methods of fundraising, charitable giving, lobbying, and unrelated business activities can be carried out on the Internet, is critical for protecting an organization’s tax-exempt status.
The Nonprofits’ Guide to Internet Communications Law delivers thorough coverage of the need-to-know information that will dictate how nonprofits establish and use online resources. Nonprofit law expert Bruce Hopkins explains that Internet communication presents lawyers with a unique situation–there is almost no specific, existing law on which to base a practice. The logical tactic, then, is to extrapolate from the underlying principles of existing law and apply them to the Internet setting. Hopkins approaches a variety of Internet communications issues by explaining existing law, summarizing the pertinent issues concerning Internet communications by nonprofit organizations (aided in some instances by an extraordinary IRS announcement in 2000), then blending the two by musing on what the law pertaining to Internet communications by these organizations may and will be like. Specific issues covered include:
- Political campaign activities
- Related and unrelated business activities
Hopkins also focuses on two broad points of contention on which all of the above topics may turn: the potential attribution of the content of one entity to another by Web site linkages, and the application of the primary purpose test (or, the interpretation of the word substantial) in fields such as unrelated business and lobbying. He forcefully argues that the former should be curbed and the latter should be significantly redefined, offering his vision for reasonable governance of Internet communications.
The greatest set of legal issues facing nonprofit organizations are those pertaining to Internet communications. The Nonprofits’ Guide to Internet Communications Law provides nonprofit administrators and their legal advisors a road map into this unchartered territory.