I’m just wondering what constitutes advertising… especially in states where advertising is not allowed. Basically I’m wanting to give our pass-along cards to friends to give out, but I’m not sure if it’s legal for me to do that for friends in states where advertising is illegal. Example 1: I have a friend in Idaho, who could pass out our cards to her friends there. But technically, advertising isn’t legal in that state. Does “advertising” apply to cards as well? Example 2: A friend of a friend has a business in Ohio. They could have a stack of our cards on their checkout desk. But would that constitute advertising?
Any help would be appreciated!
Excellent question and one that many people ask. I'll give you my opinion as an adoptive parent and adoption educator and consultant to families pursuing domestic infant adoption, but I'm not an attorney. I STRONGLY encourage you to get advice from an attorney who specializes in adoption in your state. He or she can connect with peers in other states to understand their state laws, if necessary. It gets complicated quickly and different attorneys will sometimes provide different advice for the same exact situation (in part because some attorneys are simply more conservative, or cautious, than others), so make sure you work with an attorney you trust and like.
To get a basic understand of state laws in terms of adoption, check out this article I wrote titled Adoption Advertising Laws.
I do not know of a state that prohibits passing out cards to people you know because this is really under the category of networking and not advertising. Statues really don't speak to "networking." They focus on advertising. Passing out cards to people you don't know (e.g., randomly at a bar or street corner) is more likely to be under the heading of advertising. This type of activity is what may be prohibited.
The same general rules apply to your friends. If they pass out your cards to people THEY know then that's networking and is OK. If they pass out cards to those they don't know then it's advertising and that may not be OK.
Given my interpretation then (again, ask a qualified attorney these questions), your Idaho friend can pass out cards to his or her friends, but your Ohio friend of a friend probably shouldn't leave a stack of cards out at his or her place of business.
I hope this helps. Good luck!
Thank you, Hal. That clears up some of my questions. Now--another one that I couldn't find info on in your well-done article. We have a trucker friend who has offered to leave cards with the tips he gives at restaurants. Do we need to tell him, "This state you may put cards on, this one you can't", or do we let that open to him? It feels a bit scary because we can't control where all our cards may go. Make sense?
My very non-legal opinion... Don't worry about it and let him pass out cards. Even a brief interaction with someone probably means "you know them" so it's networking and not advertising.
For example, although some attorneys in some states might say you cannot hand out cards at a street corner because that's advertising, if you talk with someone for a minute at a street corner and bring up your plans to adopt and hand them a card, then that's networking.
Speak with a qualified attorney though!! :)