Any business or other entity that operates a website should take the time to draft a set of terms and conditions (“Terms and Conditions”) that will govern the relationship between end-users and the subject website operator in connection with the website and its various offerings.
Website Terms and Conditions are essential in, among other things, establishing the ownership rights of the website operator in and to the applicable content and offerings featured on the website, limiting the liability of the website operator in connection with the website and its content/offerings, establishing payment terms (if any) and setting forth the terms for dispute resolution.
Cover Your Bases
The Terms and Conditions should address some or all of following, which is by no means an exhaustive list: (1) a description of the functionality of the website and underlying services, products and offerings; (2) any applicable payment terms and, relatedly, methods for canceling accounts; (3) general disclaimers, and website-specific disclaimers depending on the nature of the website and the underlying content/offerings; (4) ownership in and to the website and the underlying content/offerings; (5) limitations of liability; (6) any applicable age restrictions; (7) Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbor language; (8) restrictions on end-user conduct by and through the website; and (9) a dispute resolution section, including choice of law, prohibitions on class actions and arbitration provisions.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
The specific terms contained in the Terms and Conditions will inevitably vary depending on the type of content/offerings featured on the website, and the underlying commercial relationship between the end-user and the applicable website operator. For example, some Terms and Conditions will have terms governing a web environment that fosters interactions between end-users, while others will feature no such forums. In addition, where the Terms and Conditions cover products and/or services that end-users must pay a fee to access, there are numerous payment-related provisions that must be included.
It is highly recommended that you retain qualified legal counsel to ensure that any Terms and Conditions that you use in connection with your website provide adequate levels of protection for your business, while anticipating all important contingencies.