CREATE YOUR BRAND + KEEP IT LEGAL

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Think of the Terms of Use, also called Terms of Service as an agreement between a user of a site and the owner of the site. The purpose of the agreement is to set forth how users and visitors can engage with the site and to manage expectations for any offerings on the site.

Does your website need a Terms of Use?

The simple answer is that if you have a website, whether it’s a personal blog or a multi-million dollar site, you should have a Terms of Use — it’s especially advisable if you want to “enforce” contractual arrangements with end users, such as copyright, trademark, licenses, etc. Without a Terms of Use, you are exposing yourself to risk and potential liability.

Consider this scenario as an example: A travel blogger creates a site that catalogs his or her travels and showcases all the accompanying photographs. The site also allows user-generated content by allowing comments from site visitors. Two visitors become embroiled in a heated argument and write scathing comments full of profanity. Then another visitor crops one of the pictures and decides to sell it to another site.

What rights does the travel blogger have? At a minimum, a well-drafted Terms of Use would have included a provision giving the blogger, as the site owner, the ability to immediately delete the offending comment. It would have also made clear that any content posted by the blogger was the blogger’s intellectual property and could not be used for commercial exploitation by site users. This is only a tiny fraction of the issues that the Terms of Use should cover and a small glimpse of how a well-drafted Terms of Use can benefit a site owner.

Beyond the legal issues, having a well-drafted Terms of Use makes you look more professional and lends more credibility to your brand.

Can’t I just copy and paste a Terms of Use from another website?

Absolutely not. Every site has its own needs and offers different services, so copying and pasting someone else’s Terms of Use and passing it as your own is not only potentially infringing on someone else’s copyright, but it also will not be helpful to you and/or hold up in a court of law should a legal dispute arise. You may even be complying to do things that you are not aware of.

It is strongly recommended to have a lawyer draft a well thought-out and tailored Terms of Use for your site. If you use a pre-written template, at the very least, have a lawyer review it before posting it on your website to ensure you have covered all your bases.

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