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Website Terms and Conditions

There are many websites that have their terms and conditions posted somewhere on their websites. If you have a website, you may be wondering if you need a similar legal notice. If you have more than a simple information only website, you may need one as well.

Website Terms and Conditions: Returns, Refunds and Lost Items

If your website is in engaged in e-commerce by selling products to customers, then you probably need a terms and conditions legal notice regarding credit card billing, returns and refunds. As an example, many websites allow customers to return un-used products for up to thirty days after purchase. You may want to include similar language in your website.

In addition, there are other disclaimers that you should make in a terms and conditions page that depend on your website. If, for example, your website sells glass ornaments, you should probably disclaim any liability for losses due to breakage when a customer sends an item back to your store.

Website Terms and Conditions: Privacy Policy

If your website is setup in such a way that you gather certain types of personal information form the visitors to your website (name, address, phone number, credit card information), then your website should include a privacy policy in the terms and conditions page. In this policy, you should explicitly spell out how the private information will be used and not used. For example, if you intend on selling your customer's names and addresses to a marketing company, you need to spell this out in the privacy policy.

If you need help writing a privacy policy for your website, you should check out other websites that are in the same business as yours to get ideas. After reading some other privacy policies, you should have an idea of everything that needs to be included in the privacy policy for your website.

Lastly, if you are planning on changing the privacy policy of your website, you should inform any customers that you currently have information on about the change to the policy and see if they want to withdraw their private information.

Website Terms and Conditions: Limit Your Liability

If you run a website that allows users to post original content, or provides space for forum postings or chatting, you should include a clause in your terms and conditions that will limit your liability for any offensive or slanderous postings that are made on your site. In general, there are three ways to go about doing this:

  • Monitor and remove offensive content. If your website contains a forum or other place for the public to post, you should regularly monitor this area and remove any content that you see as offensive or slanderous.
  • Remove postings that receive complaints. It often happens that you will receive complaints from some users regarding the postings of other users on your website. Before investigating the postings in question, be sure to remove them first and then study them. If after your investigation, you do not find any offensive or slanderous material, you can then put the posting back up.
  • Disclaim liability. Like the disclaimers before and after infomercials on TV, your website should include a disclaimer that the owner of the website does not necessarily endorse or approve of any statements made by third parties that are posted to the website. However, even this disclaimer will not completely shield you from potential liability, but it may lessen it and minimize any financial damages that you could be ordered to pay if your website gets involved in a lawsuit.

Website Terms and Conditions: Copyright

No matter what your site does, whether it is a purely informational blog, or it is a full-functioning online store complete with a forum, you should include notices to the public that your website is copyrighted and trademarked (if applicable). As an example, at the end of each webpage, you should include "Copyright BobFTopp.com" or "Bobby's Topps is a trademark of Bob F. Top."

When you want to include another person's work on your website, you should read this article Getting Permission to Publish: Ten Tipts for Webmasters.

Website Terms and Conditions: Minors

If your website is targeted at a young audience (under 13 years old), there are special rules that you will need to adhere to. Specifically, you will need to ensure that your website complies with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). 

Next Steps
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address you business's operational needs.
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