Terms and conditions — you’ve probably heard about this a lot, came across it multiple times, but didn’t really put much thought into it.
But at some point when running your site, you wondered: do I need terms and conditions for my website? Will it protect me? Can I use some sort of website terms and conditions template?
Well, I can’t really answer that in a few sentences. So sit tight and keep on reading to find detailed answers to your burning questions.
What You Should Know About Terms and Conditions
Although each site has its own rules, standard terms and conditions for websites often include key issues like copyright and trademarks, termination of services, privacy statements, disclaimers of responsibility, and so on.
Site owners and visitors must abide by these rules and acknowledge their own rights and responsibilities. If any of these terms should be abused, terms and conditions also include what kind of actions can be taken against the one who breaks them.
Terms of conditions are not required by law, but it’s recommended to have them to protect your rights and the content of your site.
If you do decide to have a set of your own, it would be helpful to use website terms and conditions templates for reference. However, you still need to set up your own rules and guidelines that are applicable to your site.
You can apply terms and conditions to all kinds of sites, such as ecommerce stores, software as a service applications (SaaS), mobile and web apps, and blogs.
Why You Need to Use Terms and Conditions
Here are several reasons why it’s important to invest some time setting up terms and conditions for your website:
- Avoid being held liable. terms and conditions (T&C for short) usually cover the limitations of liability — a disclaimer that limits your responsibilities in case there are some errors and inaccurate information on your site.
- Prevent abusive visitors. Since you can take actions against the abuser of T&C, you can prevent unwanted visitors from harming your site, for example, defamation, spam attacks, the use of hurtful language, etc.
- Protect your content. Use T&C to protect your intellectual property by stating that all content, logos, and designs are protected by copyright law.
- Ban users that violate T&C. Make sure you include a termination clause in your T&C, so you have a legal justification when blocking an abusive user from using your site.
- State the governing law. By including a governing law clause in the T&C, you are declaring which law would be used if some legal issues arise.
- Preventive measures for other events. Always include clauses for anything that might cause an issue with users, especially if you have an ecommerce site or SaaS. Some examples include refund policies, product description errors, billing terms, and cancellation policies.
Which Elements to Include in Terms and Conditions
How terms and conditions are written is greatly dependent on the kind of services you offer. However, you should at least cover the following clauses:
- Liability Limitation. Can be used for all kind of websites. In this clause, you express that you cannot be held accountable for more than what you agreed to.
- Copyright. For all websites, especially ones that deal with intellectual property. You put a disclaimer that your content is exclusively yours and is protected by law. In addition, if you allow user-generated content, you must state a way for third parties to report users who commit copyright infringement on your site.
- Content. Usually used by sites with a lot of contributors. Content clause informs users that they own any content they’ve created, but they must give you permission first in order to make it accessible to the public.
- Termination. Usually included in T&C of web apps and SASS, but any type of website can use it. Termination clause explains that any user can delete their account when they no longer wish to use your services. Moreover, it also notifies them that their account can be terminated if they violate your T&C rules.
- Service Availability. Used by websites that sell products and services. Here you state what kind of guarantee you can cover and express that your services might not be available 100% of the time.
- Governing Law. For all sites. In this clause, it’s mentioned which law governs your agreement. For instance, if you’re based in California, state that all conditions are governed by the laws of the State of California, and any disputes must be resolved in California’s state and federal courts. This clause will prevent you from hiring an international lawyer if you have legal issues with global users.
Where You Can Create Terms and Conditions
Because forming your own T&C from scratch can get overwhelming, it’s better for you to use website terms and conditions template as a starting point. You can check out Template Lab or SEQ Legal to get some inspiration.
Alternatively, you can also use terms of service generators to create a more personalized set of rules. This method is much quicker since it will generate T&C based on the information you provide.
Check out these T&C generators below and find one that suits your needs:
- WebsitePolicies claims that they make “attorney-drafted legal documents.” This generator can make T&C for websites and mobile apps, but generating one for a commercial site will cost $14.95. WebsitePolicies also offer to host your T&C on their servers for free.
- Terms and Conditions Template is preferred if you want to make a very generic template. That being said, clauses covered are diverse enough to be applicable to various services. Plus, this generator is completely free, so there’s no reason not to use it.
- Termly can generate T&C for blogs, online marketplaces, ecommerce sites, SaaS, and mobile apps. Instead of downloading the generated T&C and uploading it to your site, you can simply embed it by using a given code. There are two plans available – Basic plan, which will cost you nothing, and Pro+ plan ($16/month).
- TermsFeed routinely monitors all laws, acts, and regulations across countries, so it’ll notify you when it’s time to update your T&C. The default template is free, but, for a price, they do include offer some additional options for business websites and mobile apps.
- Privacy Policies provide generated T&C in several formats, so you can edit it as much as you like. They also update you on the latest internet privacy and data protection updates so you’ll always be in the loop. Just like TermsFeed, there are some additional costs for additional options.
When to Enforce Terms and Conditions
Visitors need to agree to your terms and conditions the moment they enter your site. If they don’t, they can’t use your website — it’s as simple as that.
Terms and conditions can also be enforced before doing certain activities such as sharing content, making a purchase, and registering to your site.
The most effective way to make sure users read your T&C and consent to it is by using clickwrap agreement — a notice regarding certain legal agreement before conducting a particular activity.
Setting up terms and conditions for your site is recommended. It informs your users about the general guidelines on using your site, making sure any unnecessary obstacles are kept to a minimum. In addition, you can also use it in court to limit your liability when facing a lawsuit.
So what about you? Have you built your own terms and conditions yet? If you haven’t, the best time to start is now!