Pretty much every business these days needs a website. The websites of some small businesses are very simple and purely informational. If this sounds like your business website, you should include a copyright notice on each page and a trademark notice if your business uses a trademark. However, when your business website is more intricate than simple, you should include terms and conditions. Because a host of laws at the federal and state levels call for disclosure on issues such as data collection, you might also prefer to talk with a lawyer to ensure you have covered all bases in your website terms and conditions. That said, here’s the general lowdown on what issues to focus on.
Copyright and Trademark Notices
Any business website, simple or complex, large or small, should have a copyright notice and, if applicable, a trademark notice. When you publish material from other parties, for example, as part of a blog post, include such notices. Be careful that you are being legally compliant when you use photos on your website; check that the photo is safe for reuse. Take material down as soon as possible if you receive a takedown request so that it is down while you investigate. You can always put it back up if you feel it is legally sound to do so.
Customer Privacy and Data Collection
Returns, Refunds, Lost Items
It is possible that your business sells products or services online. When you deal in e-commerce, your website terms and conditions should include provisions for returns, refunds and lost items. Explain your returns policy; for example, you might allow customers 15 days after they receive a product to return it, but only if it is unused or defective. Again, look at your competitors’ returns, refunds and lost items sections. For example, if you deal in pottery, a competitor’s website might alert you to the fact that it is a good idea to limit your liability when a customer ships a pottery bowl back to your location.
Behavior of Website Users
Many websites have blogs that allow followers to comment on posts. Many also host forums and other interactive mediums. However, as you probably know, Internet commenting can get nasty—and fast. To minimize the chances of such commentary reflecting on your business, have your website terms and conditions spell out the type of behavior that is expected from users of the website. Examples include treating other commenters with respect and not posting obscene or copyrighted materials. Make provisions for what happens if these rules are broken, and explain that you are not responsible for what other people post on your website. Such a notice will not prevent you from being sued, but might limit what you have to pay out if the other party prevails.
It’s possible your business may need to adhere to COPPA, or the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule. If your business focuses on minors, especially those 13 years old and younger, check out this link to children’s privacy on the Federal Trade Commission website. If you are unsure whether your business should include information on minors in its website terms and conditions, this link has the lowdown.
Your website terms and conditions can save you an abundance of legal trouble and frustration. Be sure to talk with an attorney if you ever have any questions or concerns.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.