Although not required by law, a website Terms and Conditions agreement (also known as a Terms of Service or a Terms of Use agreement) is highly recommended for your business. This Agreement appears on your site, detailing a set of rules which users must agree to follow in order to use your website or web-based service.

Your Terms and Conditions agreement is different from your Privacy Policy agreement, which informs users what kind of data you collect and how you are using that data. A Privacy Policy is required by law if you collect personal data from your users, such as email address, first and last names, shipping address, etc.

Here are a few reasons why you should have a Terms and Conditions agreement on your website:

Prevent Abuses

A Terms and Conditions agreement acts as a legally binding contract between you and your users, setting the rules and guidelines that users must agree to follow in order to access and use your website or mobile app. In this agreement, you can inform users what happens if they are abusing your website or mobile app by spamming other users, posting defamatory content, etc.

If your website or mobile app hosts content that is generated by users, you can include a section in your Terms and Conditions to inform users that harmful language will not be tolerated, nor will spamming other users. Doing so gives you the right to ban users who are found to be abusing your website.

Own Your Content

As the website owner, you are the owner of your logo, content, the design of the website, and so on (an exception is usually made for user-generated content, as most websites will inform users that any content created by users belongs to them). In the Terms and Conditions, you can inform users that you are the owner of such content and that the content you own is protected by international copyright laws. This clause is commonly referred as the Intellectual Property clause.

Terminate Accounts

Another common clause that Terms and Conditions agreements include is the Termination clause. This clause informs users that abusive accounts will be terminated and banned from using the service.

The Termination clause is aimed at websites that have a registration section (e.g. user must register before using and/or accessing certain sections of the website), as you can disable or ban the abusive users based on the activity of their accounts.

A typical Termination clause might include the following language: “We may terminate your access to the Site, without cause or notice, which may result in the forfeiture and destruction of all information associated with your account.”

Limit Liability

Terms and Conditions agreements commonly include a Warranty Disclaimer that tries to limit the website owner’s liability in cases where errors are found in the content presented on the website.

This kind of clause notifies users that the owner cannot be held responsible for any errors in the content presented, or for the information provided being accurate, complete, or suitable for any purpose.

Establish The Governing Law

Usually, the Governing Law clause of a Terms and Conditions agreement refers to the jurisdiction that applies to the terms presented in the agreement.

For instance, if your website is operated by a registered business in the state of Ohio in the United States, then the governing law of your Terms and Conditions would be presented something like this: “These terms and conditions are governed by the laws of the United States of America and the laws of the State of Ohio.”

Don’t Copy Someone Else’s Terms and Conditions

While some web entrepreneurs may be tempted to copy someone else’s website Terms and Conditions and paste it onto their site in order to save time and money, this may prove to be shortsighted. Every website is different and you need to make sure that the Terms and Conditions you post are tailored to the purpose and functionality of your own site. Otherwise, if you do find yourself in a dispute with a customer over use of your site, you may not be fully protected against the type of abuse that has occurred. Therefore, you should engage the services of an attorney who is experienced in this area to draft and/or review your website’s Terms and Conditions agreement to ensure that it addresses your site’s specific needs.

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