The Truth Behind Website Policies, Terms, & Conditions

You know those terms and conditions pop-up windows you see before you signing into your favorite websites and/or streaming services?  When was the last time you actually read them?  Yes, you know you’re supposed to, but they’re often long and filled with legalese.  On the other side, as a business owner, you might question whether or not you even need them for your website.  Just because few people review them properly doesn’t mean you should omit this important inclusion.

Are you legally required to have website terms and conditions?

You may be surprised to learn the answer is no.  If you’re collecting personal information from your clients or users, then you are required to have a formal privacy policy, but that’s just one piece.  The terms and conditions are just a basic outline of the relationship between you and your customers.  So, if you ever find yourself in court regarding information or services provided via your website, this could help limit your overall liability.

After all, the court can use these explanations to determine what contractual obligations (if any) existed between you and your customers.  In the absence of terms and conditions, you’re leaving your liability completely open to interpretation.  So, while it’s not a legal mandate, it’s definitely a recommended provision to protect yourself and your business.

What should be included in your terms and conditions?

Obviously, this will vary depending on your industry and what you’re trying to accomplish via your website, but there are some universal inclusions worth noting.  Most versions start out with a disclaimer meant to limit liability.  That way, if you or someone else mistakenly posts information in error, you likely won’t be held (legally) responsible.  If you’re going to allow visitors or third parties to post on your webpage, you’ll want to address this too.  Just to make it clear that their views are not necessarily your views and you’re not endorsing them in any way.  When dealing with potentially offensive content, this becomes especially important.

Then, you should go into the privacy policy if you’re collecting anything from your website visitors.  This is the only element that’s required by law.  Whether they’re entering credit card information or just their name and email address, you need to make some sort of official statement about how this is going to be used.  If you plan on sharing it with your marketing partners or storing it for a set amount of time, then this all needs to be disclosed.

To cover all of your bases, be sure to include a copyright somewhere so other competitors can’t just copy your design or your content.  You might also to mention where your website operates from, so this can help try to make it more clear what governing laws come into play.

How do you make them?

It can feel overwhelming when it comes to creating your own terms and conditions, but the good news is, you don’t have to.  The internet is filled with examples and templates but be wary of just copying and pasting.  For one thing, these generic versions aren’t tailored to your business or your specific needs.  For another thing, “borrowing” the wording from any place other than the public domain is a prime example of copyright infringement.  So, if your goal is to avoid legal entanglements, this isn’t the best start.

They also have terms and conditions generators online, but you know the old saying “you get what you pay for”?  Well, that applies here as well.  Would you trust your protection to a free or low cost generic generator?  Probably not.  The most secure way to accomplish this, unless you’re an experienced web developer or legal professional is to consult an attorney.  They can draft them for you or at least review them before you post them.

At the Law Offices of Kirk Halpin & Associates, P.A., drafting website policies, terms, and conditions is just one of the many services we provide.  So, even if you don’t think anyone will actually ever read this fine print, you can feel secure that your web presence is protected from future liability issues.  Give our experienced team a call today to get the process started.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 27th, 2018 at 3:06 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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