“Is affiliate marketing illegal?” is a pretty legitimate question. With all the scams online and the confusion that reigns when we mention “making money online”, asking about this legal issue sounds reasonable.
Making money on the internet is something governments have a problem with because it’s often hard to tell whether you’re a merchant or not. For example when you sell an old piece of furniture on ebay, you’re not a “merchant” really because the table belongs to your great grand-mother and you don’t have an e-commerce but if you start buying 10 tables for a low price and resell them with a 20% retail margin then we can agree that you are a merchant. Even though this type of example remains a bit confused, affiliate marketing is actually pretty easy to categorize.
To the question “Is affiliate marketing illegal?” I’ll simply answer no. This system is an online business scheme that exists for more than 10 years and all the multi millionaires in this industry don’t have cash under their mattresses, believe me. Being affiliated to a program isn’t illegal at all. Big online websites such as Amazon have affiliated programs.
Still, to answer in a more accurate way I’d say that the legal part of affiliate marketing is actually up to you. If you declare your affiliate marketing income, then you have nothing to worry about. On the other hand, not declaring this income is indeed illegal. Being an affiliate marketer is a real business. As an affiliate marketer, you are a self-employed freelancer.
Still, even if affiliate marketing is indeed legal, it doesn’t mean some practices aren’t wrong. Indeed, some black hat practices are being used by some affiliate marketers. For instance, stealing the content of a website, selling an eBook you downloaded for free, selling email addresses when you made clear you won’t share your subscribers information, stealing affiliate commissions and so on, are practices that aren’t legal nor respectful or fair.
So, to sum up my answer to “Is affiliate marketing illegal?” I’d say no, but that doesn’t mean that the way you do affiliate marketing isn’t. Affiliate marketing is a business with great values and the more transparent, honest, relevant, clear you are, the better chances you have to succeed. This business auto regulates itself and makes it a very profitable and enjoyable legal online business.