Carissa Ellis
June 1, 2016
Business Law

website terms and conditionsIn many cases businesses who have their own website tend to overlook having Terms & Conditions (“T’s & C’s”). Although not required by law, T’s & C’s are highly recommended and provide protection from claims by website users made against a business.

A website’s T’s & C’s are a legally binding contract between a business and its customers. Specifically, it is a set of regulations which users must comply with in order to access a business’ website. However, if a business is collecting personal data (for example credit card information or e-mail addresses), it is required by law to have a stated Privacy Policy.

When to have Terms & Conditions

There are advantages for nearly all websites to utilize T’s & C’s. However, there are certain functionalities of websites in which T’s & C’s are especially important:

  • Selling products or services
  • Accepting payments
  • Soliciting personal information
  • Allowing users to generate content (ie. blog commenting)
  • Giving information that may be relied upon by the website’s user (ie. product descriptions)

What is Included in Terms & Conditions

What to include in a business’ T’s & C’s depends on the area of business, the rules and guidelines the business would like to follow and the functionality of the business’ website.

The basic elements of T’s & C’s include:

  • A clause which regulates use of the website. A business has no control over how people use or misuse the information provided on its website. This clause informs users of the guidelines to follow while utilizing a business’ website and the consequences of misusing the website.
  • An Intellectual Property disclosure informs users that the business is the sole owner of all content contained on its website. Users may not reproduce the content without the business’ written consent.
  • The Terminate Accounts/Access clause informs users who may be abusing the website that they can and will be terminated and banned from using the website.
  • Disclaimers/Limit Liability clauses disclaim and limit a business’ liability for users’ actions as a result of visiting the business’ website.
  • Set Governing Law. If a business is located in New York City, the website may be viewed all over the world. Setting forth the law which governs the agreement informs users that the website is governed by United States law and more specific, New York Law. This comes in handy when determining which law to follow if any disputes may arise.

Ways to Create Terms and Conditions

There are a couple of ways to obtain a T’s & C’s policy, but it is highly recommended to obtain the assistance of an attorney in order to ensure the business is fully protected.

  1. Terms and Conditions Generator:A simple internet search of the keywords “Terms and Conditions Generator” will provide an endless amount of Terms and Conditions Generator websites to choose from. However these are HIGHLY unreliable. There is no way of knowing how outdated the T’s and C’s may be, what country they originated from, if there are clauses omitted, who the author may be, etc. There are too many unknowns when utilizing this method.
  2. Utilization of an AttorneyAn attorney will be able to assist in the review of current T’s & C’s or may assist in creating T’s & C’s which can be generated to a business’ specific needs. Utilization of an attorney will help ensure a business is protected should any issues arise.

Where to go upon completion of Terms & Conditions?

How to Implement T’s & C’s into a Website

There are several ways to implement T’s & C’s into a website including the following:

  • Insert a link which is clearly visible on any page of the website. A great location for the link is either in the header or footer of the website. Itunes has a link to their Terms and Conditions in their footer that can be viewed on any page:
    Itunes Footer Terms OF Use
  • If your website has a registration process, add an “I agree” checkbox (clickwrap agreement). Users will be required to check the box and therefore will be agreeing to the T’s & C’s before completing the registration process. Engine Yard utilizes this method in their registration form:
    Clickwrap agreement
  • Limit a users’ access on the website until they agree to the T’s & C’s. Here is an example of a website that doesn’t let you continue onto the site until you have agreed to the Terms & Conditions:
    Demo Site

Moving forward upon Implementation of Terms & Conditions into the website

Keep Terms and Conditions Updated

Implementing T’s and C’s into a website protects a business from disputes which may arise. T’s and C’s should be frequently reviewed and updated in order to ensure a business is continuously utilizing the best practices.

How to Inform Users of Update

If updates are made to a business’ T’s & C’s, the business should notify its users in advance of those changes so users are aware of what changes will be made and how the changes may affect them. In addition, a business should inform the users why the changes were needed. Ways to announce the changes include:

  • Via Email
  • Via Social Media Channels
  • Via a Blog Post
  • Utilization of a top bar which notifies users, but with a link to a page where they can find more information.

While not legally necessary, implementing a Terms & Conditions statement into a business’ website is wise. Obtaining attorney assistance will ensure a business has all necessary clauses in order to protect itself from any issues which may arise. Contact one of our Green Bay Business attorneys today at (920) 499-5700.

 

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