Table of contents
In simple words, it sets out what is considered acceptable behavior on your website. What users can and can’t do, removes any ambiguity or uncertainty when it comes to liability, protects your intellectual property, and encourages communication and transparency with your customers.
This is especially handy if users can share content such as images, videos, or comments on your website. Having clear guidelines as to what type of content is acceptable and what would lead to content being taken down will allow you to maintain your brand image and limit user frustration as there should be no surprises as to what constitutes prohibited usage.
Indeed, someone could put the blame on your website and claim damages from you, which could be costly if you forgot to include a proper limitation of liability and disclaimer. They can also act as a deterrent as your users will know that they are surfing your website or using your services they are doing so at their own risk.
You can also choose how and where disputes should be handled. For example, if your business is headquartered in California, you may wish to specify that any dispute will fall under the jurisdiction of the California courts or you may decide to subject all disputes to an arbitration process.
Date & Acknowledgment
Reference to Other Policies
If one has to be a certain age or have parental consent in order to be able to use your website, products, or services, you should mention it. If your platform is globally accessible, you may wish to specify that a user has to be able to form legally binding contracts in order to use your products or services, which may vary from one jurisdiction to another.
This is where you would address any use of your website, products, or services that you consider prohibited and that could lead to consequences.
Generally, this includes reprehensible conduct such as sharing or reproducing your work without prior authorization, transmitting spam, uploading viruses or using your website or services to distribute offensive or inappropriate content, using your website or service for illegal purposes, impersonating someone else, or using your content to pretend to be associated with your business.
It’s also a good idea to create a separate acceptable use policy for an extensive list of activities you would like to avoid.
If you provide an online service or software, you may wish to specify that you could stop providing that service at any time, which could help limit your liability should a user be relying on your product or service as part of their work, for example.
This should include mentioning periodic maintenance or updates or technical issues that could cause a temporary shut down of your website or services.
If you own a website that allows users to upload and publish their own content on your platform, you may wish to have a paragraph that addresses this.
For example, you could specify that by uploading content to your website, users warrant that the content is their own or that they have the right to use it without infringing on anyone’s copyright.
Limitation of Liability and Disclaimers
You may also want to include disclaimers to disclaim your liability in regards to specific events such as third-party links, viruses that a user may contract due to visiting your website, or the accuracy of the information presented on your website.
A commonly-used disclaimer in the online services and software industry is the “as-is” disclaimer.
By including the one you are telling your customers that the service that you provide is on an as-is and as-available basis - in other words, you do not provide any guarantees in regards to your service and they are using it at their own risk.
You can include a clause that reaffirms your intellectual property rights over your website and its content, including elements such as software, images, videos, patents, trademarks, and which can link to a more detailed intellectual property policy if you have one.
Standard Contractual Provisions
Using a clickwrap agreement is a good idea as you are prompting users to actively confirm that they have read and accepted your terms - which would make it more difficult for them to claim ignorance should there be a dispute later on.
To protect your business, you can set up a pop-up to bring attention to your terms or require consent at major steps of a visitor’s journey through your website.
If you have an e-commerce store, for example, you may wish to request acceptance of your terms during the checkout process, before a customer goes through with a purchase.
It’s best practice to highlight any important or unusual terms, such as payment or refund policies. If you own a blog, you may wish to highlight what content you consider inappropriate at the time of account creation.
- Updated on February 18, 2021