Re: e-hyphenated words

Subject: Re: e-hyphenated words
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 06 Dec 2012 11:25:46 -0800

On 12/6/2012 9:15 AM, Gene Kim-Eng wrote:

Is there really any reason to say "e-commerce" now, except for the fact that it's still new enough that enough people think it's cooler than just calling it "commerce" to make it a marketing buzz word?

As long as the internet does not become a physical jurisdiction, then commercial transactions online are e-commerce. Commerce requires physical interstate or international transport before a sale is made, even if the transport crosses a state line and returns. For example, WidgetCo makes widgets and distributes them to retail stores. If WidgetCo only sells to stores within its home state and never distributes widgets across state lines, then it is not commerce. If WidgetCo sells products through an online retailer, then WidgetCo products may have entered the stream of commerce.

Internet jurisdiction is not a physical jurisdiction but it does sometimes involve various jurisdictions, so whether using the internet places a company in commerce is not clear without considering how and where transactions are handled and where the buyer is located. This is what caused the issues of California requiring Amazon.com to charge sales tax for California sales (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/15/business/la-fi-mo-amazon-collecting-ca-sales-tax-20120915).

States can only tax transactions completed within the state and not transactions in interstate commerce. If Amazon.com e-commerce transactions are all commerce, then California cannot collect tax on transactions for buyers in California. If e-commerce transactions are state transactions, then they are taxable, but the use of "commerce" in "e-commerce" is confusing, except to describe a method of conducting sales that resembles commerce but is really a local transaction that uses the internet.

Amazon.com could have defended itself against charging California sales tax by saying that its transactions are all interstate commerce transactions and not state transactions because Amazon.com transactions are not conducted through a physically-located store in California. Amazon.com conceded to taxing buyers in California, so its e-commerce transactions are not commerce but state transactions.

That is about as clear as the issue of e-commerce can be at this point. Try back in about hundred years to see if any black lines have developed in the legal understanding of "e-commerce." In the meantime, it does not matter if the term is "e-commerce," "ecommerce," "internet commerce," "sales online," or anything else, but it is not "commerce" simply for being online. Commerce requires certain involvement by the seller in interstate and international transactions. If the transactions are commerce, then the use of the internet is not the reason they are commerce.






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References:
e-hyphenated words: From: Martinek, Carla
Re: e-hyphenated words: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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