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The Nonprofits' Guide to Internet Communications Law

From the Inside Flap

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:

Administration of charitable-giving programs



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.
From the Back Cover

Invaluable guidance on the most important legal issues facing nonprofits todayInternet communication is the lifeblood of countless nonprofit organizations, yet there exists no specific law to provide for its regulation. Without solid legal guidance, nonprofits risk not only missing out on the unlimited opportunities that the Internet has to offer, but also jeopardizing their tax-exempt status. The Nonprofits’ Guide to Internet Communications Law analyzes and explains the laws applicable to Internet communications by nonprofit organizations.

Nonprofit law expert Bruce Hopkins writes that with Congress and government agencies reluctant to create new law, it will ultimately be up to the courts to determine the future of Internet law affecting nonprofit organizations. Extrapolating from the underlying principles of existing law, Hopkins addresses the legal ramifications of Internet business activities, charitable-giving administration, fundraising programs, lobbying, political campaign activities, and more.

The Nonprofits’ Guide to Internet Communications Law proves an unparalleled resource for this emerging field.
About the Author

BRUCE R. HOPKINS, a lawyer with the firm Polsinelli, Shalton & Welte, is the country's leading authority on the law of tax-exempt organizations. He is also the author of fifteen books, including The Legal Answer Book for Nonprofit Organizations; The Law of Tax-Exempt Organizations, Seventh Edition; The Law of Fundraising, Second Edition; Private Foundations: Tax Law and Compliance; A Legal Guide to Starting and Managing a Nonprofit Organization, Second Edition; The Tax Law of Charitable Giving, Second Edition; and The Law of Intermediate Sanctions: A Guide for Nonprofits, as well as the newsletter The Nonprofit Counsel, all published by Wiley.

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