If you own or operate a website, you need protections in place to guard your business and limit your liability. A terms and conditions agreement can protect your intellectual property, establish rules for your website, and protect you in court in the event of legal issues.
Terms and conditions establish the rules people need to know and follow when using your site. They outline the actions your site visitors are allowed to take, and establish what users are agreeing to by spending time on your site.
By using your website and its features, visitors are accepting your terms and conditions.
Learn more about what terms and conditions are, what a terms and conditions template should include, and how you can make a terms and conditions agreement for your website.
What Are Terms and Conditions?
When properly displayed on the site, visitors agree to your terms and conditions simply by using your site or application.
Should you face a legal dispute at some point, the courts will look at this agreement to see if either you or the site’s visitor violated the terms.
Are Terms and Conditions Required?
- Protection against potential litigation – Should someone sue your business for something involving your website, clear terms and conditions can protect you in court.
- Protection against intellectual property theft – The intellectual property on your website is protected through your terms. This includes copyright infringement protection.
Similar to disclaimers, terms and conditions aren’t legally required, but are necessary if you want to maintain control over your site and protect your business assets.
Who Needs Terms and Conditions Agreements?
- Ecommerce stores
- Mobile apps
- SaaS platforms
What Should Terms and Conditions Include?
Although every website has different needs, there are certain features that are commonly found in basic terms and conditions templates. Here are the main clauses you should consider adding to your terms and conditions:
Introduction with Disclaimer
Introduce your terms by telling the reader what the document is and why you’ve created it.
Include a disclaimer, which states that the site is available “as is” and “as available.” The “as is” phrase in the disclaimer protects you against litigation if your site cannot deliver products or services as advertised due to server problems, internet connectivity issues, or other unforeseen issues.
Intellectual Property Disclosure
Your intellectual property disclosure tells the reader that the text, images, logos, visual media, and written content on your site belongs to you.
This section should explain the copyright laws that protect your intellectual property. In the intellectual property rights statement, you will likely state that all content, other than content the user owns and presents to the site, remains the property of your company and its licensors.
Establish your right to terminate user accounts on your website or app with a termination clause.
State that you can terminate user accounts for specific violations, and that you retain the right to terminate at your discretion.
You may also choose to provide permissions for the site user to terminate their account with the site for any reason they deem fit. Then, state how quickly user-generated terminations will be fulfilled (e.g., when you will delete their account and related information), so the user knows what to expect if they decide to stop working with your site.
- To harm, impersonate or harass others.
- To try to obtain passwords from others.
- To post content under a copyright without attribution.
- To promote or disseminate spam.
- To negatively impact other users of the site.
- To seek data from others, such as through data mining.
- To advertise or market another business.
- To perform illegal activities.
The restrictions should also state if certain areas of your website are off limits, except to representatives from your business. When filling in your terms and conditions template, consider which restrictions apply to your site visitors, and make your list accordingly.
If a mistake occurs on your site due to human error, a corrections section in your terms and conditions statement limits your liability. It indicates you are not liable for problems such as misspellings, omissions, pricing errors, availability errors, and other inaccuracies.
For example, if you inadvertently list a $1,000 product for $10, a corrections section allows you to not fulfill the order when you catch the mistake.
A limitation of liability section eliminates your responsibility for how a user uses your site or acts on information provided by your site.
Modifications and Interruptions
In your terms of service, outline your right to modify or edit the website at your own discretion, and specify that such modifications may result in site interruptions or downtime.
User-Generated Content Clause
If your site welcomes user-generated content (such as comments sections or forums), you need a user-generated content clause.
Typically, you will allow users to retain the rights to their created content, but state that they give you a license to share that content on your site or app for others to see. Consider adding a Digital Millennium Copyright Act disclaimer, which gives you the right to take down content if you receive a DMCA takedown notice.
Changes to Terms
Reserve the right to change the terms and conditions as you see fit. A variation of terms section gives you this right, and it establishes the duty of the user to review the terms regularly.
By continuing to use your site or app, a user continues to agree to your terms.
Links to Other Websites
If your site has links to other websites or allows links through blog comments or other user-generated content, add a disclaimer that you are not responsible for the content on third-party sites that may be linked.
Tell users that they click links at their own risk.
Links to Other Policies
The above are only the main clauses you’ll find in a standard terms and conditions agreement.
Every business and website is unique, and your terms and conditions will have clauses specific to your operations and your users.
How to Create Terms and Conditions
Terms and conditions are critical to running a business online or operating a website. They limit liability, establish site rules, and protect your site from bad actors.
To create a terms and conditions template fit for your site, consult an attorney or use our free terms and conditions generator.