Website Terms and Conditions, Why Do I Need Them?

Three Ways The Most Boring Page on Your Website Offers Critical Protection

Although web professionals spend almost no time on it, website terms and conditions govern the relationship between your company (or the entity running the website) and visitors, users and customers. So, as a founder, this page shouldn’t be ignored. Depending on the type of business you have, there are specific provisions you should include in your terms and conditions to make sure your company’s unique risks are mitigated. However, highlighted below are some general provisions that are a good idea for most companies with a web presence to address.

1. E-Commerce:

If you are selling goods through your website, your terms and conditions are especially important. You should make sure to include your return policy, whether you will make full refunds for dissatisfied customers, and what transit risk you are comfortable taking on – for example, will you be responsible if a product breaks when a customer is shipping back a return? Disclaimers on your liability and any warranty you make in reference to your product are also critical.

2. Protect Your Original Material:

When you put your work on the internet, you are literally making your hard-earned wisdom or recommendations available to the entire world. To protect against any improper third party use, you may need to prominently display notices regarding copyright or trademark. Additionally, to protect against a visitor who may use your content in a manner that you did not intend or who relies on the information you provide to his or her detriment, you should be sure to include appropriate disclaimers and limitations of liability.

3. User-Submitted Information:

If your site displays any information submitted by users (including standard “user profile” details), you should limit your liability from any libelous or offensive material, as well as any material that may infringe on the intellectual property of others. In addition to specifically disclaiming liability, you must also develop policies around when you will monitor and remove content and clearly state these policies in your terms and conditions.

To conclude, if given proper attention, you are entitled to largely ignore the terms and conditions of your website, so long as you initially make sure they adequately protect you and remain up to date. If so, the only time you’ll refer to them is to help you out of a jam. But if no attention is given to this boring little page, you may pay later with unmitigated legal exposure. Make sure to consult an attorney to ensure that your particular company risks are being appropriately mitigated.

 

If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.

Megan K. Johnson is a business lawyer with over 7 years of experience. She helped champion securities crowdfunding at the local level and worked with the first company to successfully close an equity crowdfunding involving everyday investors. She is a partner at Founders Legal and can be reached at [email protected]

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