JUSTLAW

Jason Gabbard
Founder of justLaw
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The Importance of Website Terms of Use

INTRODUCTION

On a website, ‘Terms of use’, which are more often referred to as the ‘Terms of Service’ or Terms and Conditions’ (hereafter, “Terms”) set out rules and regulations which are applicable to the visitors of a website or mobile application. Despite their importance, many entrepreneurs and other site operators often copy these Terms from other sites, giving very little thought to their unique application. At JUSTLAW, we always caution against doing so, as these terms should be tailored to your business and its customers, and they do carry important legal significance.  Read on to learn more.  (Est. read time 2-3 minutes)

At bottom, these Terms are a legal document. They create a contractual relationship between the website visitor and the website owner. Such Terms clarify various aspects of that relationship,  from conditions of providing service, IP ownership, the code of conduct of one user in relation to the other, limits of liability if something goes wrong, disclaimers, and how a user can be suspended from usage.[1]

NEED FOR ‘TERMS OF USE (ToU)’

Because of the legal nature and protection afforded by Terms, they are a ‘must- have’ for all the parties who desire to run their business or offer service efficiently and without any hindrance. These Terms are essentially sine qua non for every company or business who desires to flourish online. This furnishes a need for the development of code of conduct to regulate the user-service provider relation and at the same time govern the relation among different users with ensuring minimal interference with their right to privacy and self-expression.

IMPORTANCE AND ADVANTAGES OF ‘TERMS OF USE’

While is it true that a business does not require legally to set up Terms at the initial stage of their business, to ensure clarity and avoid misunderstanding any good business attorney will recommend that you do so. Such Terms and conditions legalize the control of the service provider on deliberating as to what is acceptable and what is not.[2]

There are a number of inherent advantages that are provided by the Terms.  One of the most important is permitting a site owner to limit the scope of their liability by adding disclaimers, affording substantial protection to the owner in case any error presents itself on the website. Another important benefit of setting up such governing regulations is allowing the effective use and applicability of the Intellectual property law which allow the website owner to product their trademarks, copyrights, patent and other intellectual property or proprietary rights which may be registered or not. This advantage allows the website owner to protect their content, logo, design etc. Furthermore, such terms and conditions are one of the main policies of every company or website owner which  ensure that their website offers a safe environment, free from any abuse, misuse etc. It also allows parties to establish guidelines for suspending account, to mention the laws applicable and the terms to be followed in case a dispute arises.

CONCLUSION: HOW CAN WE DRAFT A STRONG TERMS OF USE DOCUMENT?

Terms of Use plays a Pivotal role in governing the relationship between the owner of the website or service provider and the user for the time period till the service provider carry out his operations, therefore, utilizing term of use which are not properly drafted to cater the need and requirements can be titled as a perilous approach. There are many ways of creating Terms of Use; one may simply duplicate the sample available online or use a terms of use generator. One of the best option available is to hire a professional lawyer who is well-versed in such technical drafting. A good business lawyer can not only draft a strong document of terms of use which may protect the service provider but at the same time allow such Terms to be flexible in case of occurrence of any contingencies.[3]