Website terms of use: what are they, and do you need them?

Hello again!

You first met me back in September, when I introduced you to some of this year’s business & commercial firm students. This blog post is inspired by legal work I recently completed in the Student Law Office. I drafted a set of website terms of use for my client. This post will explain what terms of use are, and why you might need them.

website

What are terms of use?

Whilst not required by law, terms of use can be an important tool in managing the relationship between the owner of a website and its users.

Terms of use require the user to agree to a set of rules which govern how they are allowed to use your website. While the content of such a document may vary depending on the purpose of your website, its overall goal is the same: the protection and regulation of your website.

Terms of use can be drafted to fit your website’s specific needs and this means that they can be drafted to take into account of what is most important to you, as the website owner. It is important to note, however, that if you operate a website that collects personal data (names, email/home addresses and contact numbers) then, by law, your website will also require a privacy policy.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of having terms of use include:

  • Providing you, the owner, with control over who uses your site and how – if the users don’t follow the rules then access to your website can be restricted or denied;
  • Protecting your website content – including logos, pictures and videos;
  • Protecting your business from abuse, especially if you have a forum on your website (this gives you the explicit power to control and/or delete any abusive comments); and
  • Limiting your liability for any errors on your website, so that you cannot be held responsible if a user relies on information available or posted on the website (this can also extend to any social media accounts and third party websites that are linked).

Just having terms of use in place can give you peace of mind that you have set out the rules visitors must follow when they use your website.

Do you need terms of use for your website?

Website terms of use are optional, so it is ultimately the choice of the website owner whether they decide to use them or not. However, from my experience in the Student Law Office the benefits of having a bespoke set of terms on a website outweigh the risks of not having them at all.

‘Til next time!

Beth Carr2

 

This blog post was written by Bethany Carr, a final year MLaw student at Northumbria University. In her spare time, Beth likes to snuggle with her three cats and binge watch Netflix series.

 

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