It lays out the rules for visiting or using your website and services. It’s like the big placard posted at the public pool in plain sight so people know what they can and should do (e.g., no running!).
Most websites have one and it is usually located at the footer of each page. Since most businesses need websites (even those that are just a one-location, brick and mortar business), it’s important to know what the terms of services are and whether your business needs one.
The law actually does not require you to have one. BUT … it’s almost always a good idea to have one, especially if you have a website where visitors or users are allowed to post or contribute content.
You might be thinking, “What kind of trouble could a website possibly create for me?”
Surprisingly a lot. This is especially the case if you allow people to contribute or post content on your website. Let’s say that somebody posts an image on your website that they stole from someone else. Or let’s say it is defamatory. The last thing you want is to be sued because of someone else’s actions.
The terms and conditions for buying or using any products or services offered through your website.
Legal stuff laying out who is liable and for what.
What’s typically covered in the first category (i.e., the terms for buying or using any product or services)?
Ordering and cancellation policy.
Payment terms and methods.
And what about the second category, the legal stuff - what’s typically covered there?
Creating and maintaining an account. Users promise that the information they give the website owner (you) to create an account is their own information (i.e., they are not impersonating someone else) and that it is true and accurate. They can’t share their account with anyone else and it’s their responsibility to keep any passwords confidential.
Prohibited uses. Users promise that they won’t hack into or disable the website. Also, users are not allowed to use the website for any illegal purposes.
Ownership of Intellectual Property. This is a big one. Everything on the website - including any logos or posted content - either belongs to the website owner (you) OR the website owner has permission to post from other users. Users do not have permission to steal anything and use it for commercial purposes.
No liability. The website owner (you) is not responsible for any damages from the use of the website, or is only liable up to a certain amount (e.g., price of services). The website owner is also not responsible for any content posted by another user.
Rules and other issues for users posting content. If you allow users to post content on your website, this is where you lay down the rules on what can and cannot be posted. Users also give you a license to “use” their content on your website.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only, it is not legal advice. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Lawgood, its founders, or the author. If you need legal advice, you should hire a lawyer.