Things You Should Know About Your Website’s Terms Of Use

October 7, 2021

Your Terms of Use page should have a well-thought-out document with all relevant information. It’s the most tedious part of your website, but it’s a wise move. It sets the rules for your company’s website, and going without one can cause unnecessary risks to arise later on down the line.

Terms of Use, also known as “Terms and Conditions” or “Terms of Service,” serve as a legally binding agreement between your company and the people who visit your website. As a result, your Terms of Use protect your company from liability by formally notifying users of the rules of your website and how others may and may not use the content of your website. You should work with us as your Family Business Lawyer™ to establish your Terms of Use.

This article will go over the basics of what these agreements should include and why they’re so important. Keep in mind that, depending on your specific business and whether or not you offer things or services online, your Terms of Service agreement may require considerably broader clauses than those discussed here.

woman using a personal computer

Terms of Use Are Necessary

For every business with an online presence (website, blog, mobile app, or other digital platforms), having a Terms of Use agreement is a must—even if it’s not required by law and even if you aren’t actually selling goods or services online. When it comes to interactive features like blogs and websites where users may upload their own content and make comments or share your information on social media, this is very important to keep in mind.

To protect your business from legal liability resulting from destructive actions and abuse by your users, your Terms of Service define the rules for accessing and using your website. They also protect your content and other intellectual property from being copied without your permission. Defamatory content, spamming, unlawful content, and stealing your work are all common forms of user abuse.
If you collect personal data from your users, you must have a Privacy Policy, another web-based agreement that we’ll go over in further detail in a future post. As you’ll see below, some websites include the Privacy Policy within the Terms of Use, while others make it its own stand-alone page.

Terms of Use Elements to Include

The particular language and clauses of your Terms of Use agreement will vary depending on the specifics of your business and the nature of your web offerings. The following are common elements contained and included in typical Terms of Use:

Ownership of content:

This section details who owns the content on your site and how users may or may not use or share it. Make a note if you possess intellectual property rights to any site’s content, such as copyrights or trademarks.

Limit liability:

A disclaimer informing users that you are not liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the content of your website. Additionally, if you permit users to publish content or comments, you should specify that you are not responsible for any illegal, abusive, or defamatory posts generated by third parties.

Privacy policy:

Personal data, such as email addresses or credit card numbers that you acquire from your users or customers, must have a privacy policy that explains what data is collected, how it is gathered, and how it will be used and protected. Because this is the only term in your Terms of Use that you are legally required to post, you have the option of incorporating it into your entire Terms of Use document or creating a separate page with only this one term.

Governing law:

This section identifies the location of your business and the applicable law (state or country) in the event you are sued.

Creating Your Terms of Use Agreement

Copying and pasting phrases from another company’s website may be enticing, but it’s a bad idea. Another reason is that if you use someone else’s terms and conditions without their permission, they may not adequately protect your business in the event of litigation. It depends on your industry, the types of information you collect, disclose, and the potential liabilities you face on what terms of use rules can be quite specific. As a result, you should never rely on copied terms to fully protect your firm and its unique qualities from every possible threat. Every company has its own unique hazards.

A lawyer like us who understands your industry and business will be able to establish a specific Terms of Use agreement for your business, or at the very least, we can review any terms you’ve already created on your own or with the assistance of another lawyer. It’s also perfectly acceptable and even recommended that you look at terms from other businesses in your industry to get a sense of what you need to include in your own agreement.

Implementing Your Terms of Use

Your Terms of Use’s principal purpose is to establish a legally binding contract between your company and the people who visit your website. Your Terms of Use should clearly state that the user automatically agrees to be bound by the Terms of Use by using your website. Simply put, people must be informed of and agree to your conditions before using your website.

There are several ways to get a user to agree to your terms of service.

  • You can display visible links to your Terms of Use page on your homepage and other parts of your site, sometimes known as the “Browsewrap” method. By checking a box or clicking a button, the user is not required to do anything. The easiest method is also the one that has the least chance of being upheld in court.
  • Another approach is called “Clickwrap,” in which you ask for the user’s consent by having them check a box or click a button to indicate that they’ve read and agree with the terms before allowing them to use your site. It is the most effective way to enforce a legal agreement between you and the user. The court is more likely to find that an agreement exists between you and the user if the user has to take some action.
  • The last option is to seek consent from users by having them agree to your Terms of Use during your customer registration process or when they want access to a given site function or feature.

Enlist Our Support To Create Your Terms of Use

Your website’s Terms of Use agreement is just as important as any other legal agreement utilized by your business. There’s a chance that just a handful of individuals will bother to read your Terms of Service, but if something goes wrong and you end up in court, the future of your company could determine the fate of this one boring agreement.

This article is a service of Greg Gordillo, Family Business Lawyer™. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Schedule your LIFT Session today!

Small Business Law Blog