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Key Components of Your Website’s “Terms of Use” Agreement

Introduction

If you operate a business website, and particularly if that website provides digital services for users, therefore you should have your users agree to a “Terms of Use” contract before they can participate. Also known as “Terms of Service” or “Terms and Conditions,” a terms of use agreement dictates the rules that users of your website and digital services must follow in order to use the site.[1]

Terms of UseConducting e-commerce, providing social networking abilities, or providing any other digital services that store user information online can be a risky prospect which can open your company up to all sorts of legal risks if you do not erect appropriate legal defenses.

In this blog we will detail some of the key components that your terms of use agreement needs to include. This blog is not intended as legal advice for your specific business. Depending on the nature of your online activities and services, you may or may not need to utilize some or all of the following clauses in your terms of use. Please contact the attorneys at Muir & Associates for help deciding what your specific terms of use agreement should include, as well as help creating those agreements.

1) Proper/Expected Usage

Your terms of use should include details about the proper and expected usage of your website or software. In this way, you can clearly define the intended purpose of your website and protect yourself should someone attempt to use it in problematic ways or for illicit purposes. Also known as  Acceptable Use Policy, this is more intended to protect you from legal action brought on by a user and rarely includes realistic enforcement.

2) Privacy Policy

A privacy policy should disclose to your clientele how you gather their personal information.[2] For example,

  • How it will be managed
  • What it can be used for,
  • details regarding personal or private user information, such as
    • names,
    • addresses,
    • phone numbers, or
    • credit card information.

User privacy is a complex issues so be sure to consult with a lawyer to ensure you are fulfilling all legal requirements with regards to protecting private information.

3) Payment Information

Ensure that you tell them how you keep credit card information, how your subscriptions work, or other relevant financial details, if your site involves payment for service or product.

4) Opt Out

If your users create accounts with your service, you should explain how they can terminate their account with you. Users have to have a way to cease their use of the digital service you provide.

5) Disclaimer

Every terms of use should include a disclaimer that limits your liability for the actions of your users. Your users must agree that the site, software, or service is meant only for the defined, intended and purpose. Thus, they cannot hold you liable for damages caused by those who might use it for any other purpose.

6) “Subject to Change”

You need to utilize language that informs users that your terms of use is subject to change at any time. This gives you the flexibility you need to make adjustments as your circumstances change.

Business owners with websites or who offer any digital services cannot afford to neglect a thoroughly crafted terms of use agreement. The legal repercussions of failing to define your rules and liability could be catastrophic for your company. The law firm of Muir & Associates is well-equipped to analyze your company’s needs and help you create a terms of use agreement that protects what you’ve worked so hard to build.

 

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