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Securities law is, essentially, the law governing investments and capital markets. What is a "security"? In SEC v. WJ Howey Co., 328 U.S. 293 (1946), the Supreme Court announced, "An investment contract for purposes of the Securities Act means a contract, transaction, or scheme whereby a person  invests his money  in a common enterprise and  is led to expect profits  solely from the efforts of the promoter or a third party." The law of business organizations and securities law are intertwined because investment securities are often (but not always) shares or other interests in a corporate entity, or debt issued by corporate entities.
The law governing securities in the U.S. is scattered across a number of sources, including federal statutes, federal regulations, administrative releases and agency determinations, state statutes, regulations, and cases, and even rules adopted by stock exchanges and other industry participants.
The principal federal securities statutes are the Securities Act of 1933 (15 U.S.C. §§ 77a et seq.), the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. §§ 78 et seq.), the Trust Indenture Act of 1939 (15 U.S.C. §§ 77aaa et seq.), the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. §§ 80a-1 et seq.), the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. §§ 80b-1 et seq.), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (Pub. L. No. 107-204), the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Pub. L. No. 111-203) and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (Pub. L. No. 112-106),
Federal Administrative Law
The Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") is the principal federal agency responsible for administering and enforcing the securities laws. The SEC promulgates regulations, forms, releases setting forth its interpretations of the law, "no-action letters" responding to private inquiries, and other agency publications and statements. The SEC also brings administrative proceedings and court cases in response to alleged violations.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission ("CFTC") is responsible for policing derivatives markets (derivatives are contracts that derive their value from the performance of an underlying entity). As such, the CFTC regulations futures, swaps, and options markets.
Congress envisioned self-regulation by industry participants such as professional associations and stock exchanges as part of the structure of the securities laws. These self-regulatory organizations ("SROs") have authority to adopt and enforce rules and conduct disciplinary proceedings of their members, subject to SEC oversight.
In addition to the federal regime, states have adopted their own securities laws, commonly known as 'Blue Sky Laws.'
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