Securities Law

United States term for the laws that govern the sale of shares, bonds, and other instruments that might be considered securities, to the public. The scope of what are considered securities and are therefore in principle regulated is defined in Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as including

Any note, stock, treasury stock, bond, debenture, certificate of interest, or participation in any profit-sharing agreement or in any oil, gas, or other mineral royalty or lease, any collateral trust certificate, preorganization certificate or subscription, transferable share, investment contract, voting-trust certificate, certificate of deposit, for a security, any put, call, straddle, option, or privilege on any security, certificate of deposit, or group or index of securities (including any interest therein or based on the value thereof), or any put, call, straddle, option, or privilege entered into on a national securities exchange relating to foreign currency, or in general, any instrument commonly known as a ‘security’; or any certificate of interest or participation in, temporary or interim certificate for, receipt for, or warrant or right to subscribe to or purchase, any of the foregoing; but shall not include currency or any note, draft, bill of exchange, or banker’s acceptance which has a maturity at the time of issuance of not exceeding nine months, exclusive of days of grace, or any renewal thereof the maturity of which is likewise limited.

U.S. securities law is enforced on the basis of “strict liability,” that is to say ignorance of the law is not an excuse, though if a violation was innocent, i.e., not willful, this may reduce the penalties applied.

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