• Carolyn Jahnke

Do I Really Need a Website Terms of Use?

Your website provides you and your business with a wide variety of benefits. That has never been truer than during the pandemic as many businesses had to pivot to online sales. However, if your website doesn't have a terms of use, you could be opening yourself up to unnecessary risk.


First, so what is a website terms of use?


A terms of use, also known as terms of service or terms and conditions, is an agreement that requires a user to agree and abide by the terms in order to use a website or service. A terms of use is not legally required, but, ultimately, it is the ounce of prevention for your business and website that provides a pound of cure.


Okay I get that, but why do I need one?


Any time someone interacts with your website, it creates an opportunity for your business to be put at risk and for things to go wrong. When things go wrong, people want to find someone to blame. A well-constructed terms of use helps to protect your business by disclaiming liability from a variety of scenarios in which individuals may interact with your website.


For instance, a terms of use could prevent you from being held liable for the following situations:

  • A user's device becomes infected with malware, and they blame your website; your terms of use can disclaim liability for that type of issue.

  • A user decides to upload a file to your website that violates the copyright of someone else and your website gets sued for it; you can make the user pay for all of the legal costs associated with it.

  • A user copies content from your website and claims it as their own to make money; your terms of use can make it clear what belongs to you and prohibit users from using your intellectual property without your permission

  • A user wants to sue you for your refund policy; your terms of use can outline that any disputes must be handled through arbitration and also address that the user had already agree to the refund policy by using the website because it was in your terms of use.

You've convinced me, I need one. But what should go in my terms of use?


A well-drafted terms of use should be drafted that is specific to your business. Depending on what is all on your website, it should:

  • Set forth how the user agrees to abide by and accepts your terms of use

  • Create a license for users of the website as long as their use is in accordance with the terms of use

  • Document your ownership of content and any intellectual property rights

  • Explain how cookies are used on your website (this could also be done in a separate cookie policy)

  • Prohibit specific activity when using the website (e.g., copying, spamming, adding malware, etc.)

  • Outline any "Member's Only" section details (e.g., user IDs, passwords, removal of accounts)

  • Reserve your right to modify the website at any time

  • Provide any terms related to any transactions or sales conducted on the website

  • Refer to your privacy policy, which addresses how your business may collect, store, share, and delete any personal information (e.g., name, address, email address, phone number, etc.) on your website

  • Document any disclaimers that are specific to your business

  • Share how disputes regarding the website will be handled (e.g., mediation, arbitration, or in court)

  • Limit your liability for any disputes related to the website

  • Reserve the right to terminate their use of the website if they violate the terms of use

That sounds complicated. So how do I easily get a custom terms of use for my website?


There are a number of websites that offer terms of use for minimal dollars. They ask you a lot of questions about how you expect your users to interact with the website. However, the risk with using one of these sites is that they don't take the time to understand any of the nuances of how you uniquely run your business or what business activities you conduct on your website, which may be different from others that are in the same industry. Additionally, there tends to be a lack of explanation as to what all that legal language means so you can appropriately answer the questions that generate your terms of use as well as comprehend how the language in your terms of use protect you.


That doesn't sound great. Is there a better way?


Your website terms of use are table stakes protection for any business with an online presence. It is important they are custom for you. We believe as your legal partner, it is our job to understand how you do business. This knowledge enables us to make sure the appropriate language is included based on your business activities AND that you understand how it protects you.


If you don't have a terms of use or haven't updated yours after adding services to your website, schedule a free consultation so we can discuss what your terms of use should include or what changes might be necessary. AND to celebrate my birthday and encourage businesses to fully protect themselves, we are offering $100 off your custom website terms of use during the month of June for all businesses who need a new terms of use.

3 views0 comments