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Terms and Condition of Use: Why You Should Have One

Terms and Condition of Use Agreement Lawyer

The Terms and Conditions of Use and Why You Really Should Have One

You’ve seen it. Pretty much every website or online service you use makes you agree to it. Yet, even though it’s everywhere on the internet, many misconceptions still exist. We’re talking, of course, about the Terms and Conditions of Use that you agree to every time you do pretty much anything online. Seeing as how Terms and Conditions exist on every platform, you stand to benefit greatly by understanding why it is so important that every site has their own version of it.

Contrary to popular belief, while the Terms and Conditions of Use agreement is greatly recommended to have for your website or online platform, you are not required by law to have this agreement. From a legal standpoint, only policies regarding user privacy are required to be displayed publicly, and that’s only if you gather personal data from users of your service or platform. Data can refer to such things as email addresses, names, physical addresses, gender, age, telephone numbers and other pieces of personal information. Terms and Conditions of Use can also be called Terms and Conditions or Terms of Service or even just Terms of Use.

Terms of Use Agreement

Regardless of what you want to call it, a Terms of Use Agreement is a series of rules and conditions to which users must give their consent and understanding in order to utilize a service or product. In short, it is an agreement that establishes the rules that users must agree to if they want to use your website. While you aren’t legally obligated to have a Terms of Use, there are many advantageous reasons why you should include one on your site.                           

Terms of Use Agreement Can Prevent Abuse of Power

The Terms of Use Agreement serves as a legally binding contract between you and your users. Specifically, the agreement establishes the rules and protocols that users have to follow and abide by if they want to utilize your website or application. On the other hand, a Privacy Policy agreement serves to let your users know about the kinds of data you may collect as they make use of your site, as well as what you plan to do with that collected data. It’s in this agreement that you would write several sections talking about the rules and guidelines that come with using your site, and what the consequences of breaking those rules or abusing them are. Different users can exploit or abuse your site in different ways but some common examples of abusive actions are: spamming other users, posting defamatory content, or using your content in a way that is unintended, etc. However, you can include a clause within your Terms of Use Agreement that outlines that certain actions will not be tolerated, such as harmful language or hate speech, constantly posting spam, and harassing other users. As a consequence for engaging in those forbidden actions, you can ban users who abuse your site.

You’ll Own Your Content

Since you are the owner of your platform, be that a website, an app, or a brand, you have the ability to call the shots with how your stuff can get used. In particular, your branding designs, logos, videos, articles, and software are yours to decide how to use and share, if at all. Moreover, you can let your users know that you are the owner of that content and that your content is protected by international copyright laws. This is a crucial clause to add in your Terms of Use Agreement and it most often gets referred to as the Intellectual Property Clause. Having this clause can really make or break your platform because it directly informs users as to how they can and can’t use your intellectual property without infringing on your original creations. As such, be sure to include a well-written Intellectual Property Clause in your Terms of Use Agreement, or it just might come back to haunt you later down the line.

The Termination Clause in Terms of Use

Terms of Use can also provides a way to end the abusers. Besides helping you deal with abusive users and owning your content, the Terms of Use can also provide a nifty way to permanently end the accounts of particularly problematic users. Specifically, you’ll want to include a clause in the Terms of Use called the Termination Clause.

Terms of Use can Be Subject to Termination Banning User(s) From Using The Service

It lets users know that abusive accounts which violate the Terms of Use can be subject to termination and may get banned from using the service. This clause is especially good for sites, apps, and services that require their users to register an account before being able to use the service because you can outright terminate, disable, or even ban abusive users on the basis of the illicit activity tied to their accounts. Thus, you always an option for dealing with misbehaving users, even in worst case scenarios.

The Terms of Use Also Limit Your Liability

Another important perk that comes along with having a Terms of Use on your site is that such agreements often include a disclaimer which serves to limit the owner’s (i.e. your) liability, in the event that errors, misinformation, or mistakes are found in the contents of your website. Essentially, the Limited Liability Clause lets users know that there are limitations to how liable or responsible the owner can be for any harm that may come to the user because of incomplete, inaccurate, or untrue information. Thus, the content of your website gets even more protection since the degree of liability you would be accountable for much smaller.

International and Online Commerce: Rule of Law

The interesting part of international and online commerce is that our entire economies are becoming ever-increasingly interconnected and linked. Many avenues of business and commerce have bled over into other countries, despite them originating from another country entirely. A great example of this would be Amazon, which serves customers from many parts of the world, but is ultimately based in the United States. This is where the Governing Law clause of your Terms of Use Agreements comes into play. In short, it establishes the jurisdiction which is relevant to the terms outlined in your agreement. Basically, the Governing Law clause states that your agreement is bound by the law of the land in which your company, business, service, or application is headquartered. This clause serves to identify the home country and region that your company is registered in, effectively establishing the kinds of laws and rules that it has to follow. As an example, if your company is headquartered in San Francisco, your Governing Law clause should state that your site is operated by a registered business in the state of California in the United States. That will ensure that your users are aware that your site works in accordance to California and to U.S. federal laws.

Website, Online Service, Software, or Application Should Have a Terms and Conditions of Use Section

Any website, online service, software, or application, should have a dedicated Terms and Conditions of Use section. While it may be the most skipped over section in your site, it is imperative to have users of your service consent to the terms presented in the agreement, as that gives you the opportunity to write in some very helpful clauses. Those clauses will limit your liability, protect your original content, allow for banning and termination of abusive users, and establish your governing law by which you conduct your services. By providing all of this information and requiring your users to consent to the presented terms, you give yourself a lot more wiggle room should any situation ever escalate into a legal issue.

Los Angeles Business Contracts and Agreement Lawyers

At KAASS LAW, our Los Angeles business lawyers do all that we can do help our clients build sustainable, safe, and profitable businesses. We recognize the hard work and dedication that goes into delivering a final finished product and we stand by our clients to make sure they have as simple and smooth an experience as possible, especially when they initially set up their business. We invite you to give us a toll free call at (310) 943-1171 to speak to our business lawyers and to see how we can help your business grow today.

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KAASS LAW is authorized to practice law in California. The above content is intended for California residents only. This content provides only general information which may or may not reflect current legal developments. KAASS LAW expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any of the contents of this website. The above content DOES NOT create an attorney-client relationship. KAASS LAW does not represent you unless you have expressly retained KAASS LAW in person at the KAASS LAW office.

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