Why your website needs terms and conditions

In today’s day and age websites are critical for any business. If you’re a law office like us, start-up, e-commerce business, social media platform or beyond, it’s important that your website is equipped with Terms & Conditions (T&Cs). We’re sure that you’ve seen these countless times hidden on the footer of websites. You might think of T&Cs as unimportant, but these are crucial in case you’re ever faced with a lawsuit regarding the business or privacy of your website.

For instance, if your website permits its users to post their views (kind of like Facebook and Twitter) and somebody happens to post something “defamatory”, you may be exposed to litigation because you “allowed” the “defamatory” behaviour. This is where a well drafted set of T&Cs comes in handy. To your defence, you’ll be able to rely on your T&Cs, which serve as a legally binding contract between your website and its users and if well-drafted, they will discourage and assume no liability for the defamatory behaviour of users.

Websites come in all shapes and sizes and so do T&Cs. As such, you’re free to incorporate a variety of different clauses and rules as appropriate for your website. While you can always find boilerplate T&Cs online, you most probably won’t find ones that are curated specifically for your needs. Speak to a lawyer well versed in T&Cs and protect your website. Below is a non-exhaustive list of provisions that you can include in your T&Cs.

Language to limit liability   

What if you’re an accounting firm and one of your employees makes an error in a blog posted to the website – are you accountable if someone relies upon this and suffers a loss? This is where you need to limit your liability within the T&Cs and assert that you cannot be liable for errors in the content of the website. Referring back to our defamation example, it’s also important for social media websites to assert that they do not endorse the opinions, comments, posts, etc. of users and third parties.

Language to establish permitted uses  

Users may attempt to take the contents and products of your website and use them for their own endeavours. Let’s say your website offers a particular gaming platform and users are permitted register their own user accounts. Now let’s say the users begin to trade or sell these accounts without your permission? This is where you can emphasize in your T&Cs that users are not permitted to trade user accounts whatsoever or without your express permission.   

Language regarding copyright

There was a time when real property was important. It still is, but now it has competition and that’s intellectual property. Since our businesses are becoming so digitally inclined we’re evermore relying on our intellectual property or in other words the
“creations of our mind”. People can’t steal your real property and the internet shouldn’t steal your intellectual property either. Now it’s up to you to set this out in your T&Cs and include language regarding your intellectual property, including your logos, arts, designs, and beyond.

Language setting out your Privacy Policy

Does your website take credit card information? Does your website take sensitive information such as privileged legal communications? If so, you need to set up a privacy policy for your website. This privacy policy sets out how you handle, secure, and destroy the private and confidential information of users. Your privacy policy can be included in your T&Cs or be a standalone document. We’ll be talking you to some more about privacy policies in our later blogs.

If you’ve got a website going or are thinking of starting one soon, let’s team up and make sure you’re protected on the internet. Talk to us now at info@falconlawyers.ca or 1-877-892-7778.

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