Website Terms and Conditions
The "terms and conditions" section found on many websites generally explains the legal relationship between the company and the customer, whether it includes legal disclaimers; billing notices; privacy politices; refund policies; or other details. The terms and conditions often are listed somewhere on the website, you often "pop up" with a prompt requiring the user to "accept" them. But the contents of a website's terms and conditions really depend on the type of business in which it's engaged, the extent of its data collection, which types of functions the site has, and so on.
Below are general guidelines for small busineses. See FindLaw's Internet and E-Commerce section to learn more.
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: 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."
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).
Get Professional Legal Help Drafting Your Website Terms and Conditions
As you're probably well aware, website terms and conditions contain legally specific language, so the way they're written is crucial. If you need help drafting the terms and conditions for your website, consider calling a business and commercial law attorney today.