Why Your Website Needs a Terms of Use Agreement

 

“I have read and agree to the Terms of Use” is one of the biggest lies on the Internet.

More often than not, users will quickly scroll through the Terms of Use agreement set out on a website without reading or comprehending a single line. This raises serious questions of liability between the users and the owners of the website.

Although Terms of Use agreements are not required by law like Privacy Policies, they are highly recommended to protect and limit the website owner’s liability in the event of any oversights found on the website.

The users may be customers and potential errors or regulations not defined in a Terms of Use agreement can lead to substantial liability issues and result in loss of revenue or future customers for a company over the years.

 

Terms and Conditions, Terms of Service, or Disclaimer

Terms of Use agreement is also known as Terms and Conditions, Terms of Service, or a Disclaimer that is a legally binding contract that sets the tone of relationship between the user and the owner of the website.

It is a set of regulations and guidelines that users must agree to follow in order to use the service. The Terms of Use should define how users should use the site and the consequences that ensue when users fail to comply with the terms. 

 

What They Do

These rules and guidelines can prevent abuse from happening on the website. Oftentimes, there are cases of spamming or defamatory remarks from users that can cause discomfort among other users.

By including a termination clause in the Terms of Use, it specifies how what type of behavior is expected and acceptable to use on the website. It may inform users that if they no longer wish to comply with the terms and conditions of use they can terminate their account. It may also inform users that abusive behavior can result in the termination of their account by the discretion of the owner. 

 

They Also Claim Ownership of the Website

Another usage of the Terms of Use agreement is to claim ownership of the content of the website. Owners can include an intellectual property clause within the terms to inform users that the content posted on the website belongs to the owner and is protected by international copyright laws. Owners can state the rights that they have over their website and review if any users have infringed upon those rights by claiming the content inappropriately. 

 

Warranty Diclaimer

Most importantly, the Terms of Use can also act as a warranty disclaimer to limit liability. A disclaimer tells users that owners are not to be held responsible for errors, inaccurately presented information, or misusage of content. In addition, adding a governing law clause can specify to users which country the website operates from, as well as which jurisdiction that applies to the terms. 

 

Notice Required

That being said, certain actions need to take place to deem the Terms of Use agreement enforceable and to fully protect the owner of the website in the event of a lawsuit. Users need to receive an actual notice of the Terms of Use agreement or be given sufficient information to inquire about the notice.

They should also give explicit assent to the Terms of Use agreement through methods such as signing their name or by selecting a button that says “I have read and agree to the Terms of Use.” Owners can take further precautions such as making sure that they are providing users with a clear notice, prohibiting the use of the website if users do not give prior assent, and periodically having users reaffirm their agreement to the Terms of Use agreement.

Protect your website and your content by investing in a Terms of Use agreement

 

This post is written by Eren Ng, a political science student at UCLA who is an aspiring lawyer.

 

Does your website need a Terms of Use Agreement? Contact Sam Mollaei, Esq. via email or phone at (818) 925-0002.