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terms of service

Website Terms Of Service

By Internet Lawyer, Website Lawyer, Website Legal Documents

website terms of service

What are terms of service?

Website terms of service, also known as “terms of use” and “terms and conditions of use,” are typically the rules a website’s visitors must agree that they will follow in order to make use of the website, plus disclaimers limiting the potential liabilities of the owners of the website business in question.

Why have these terms on your site?

A well-written set of terms of service will be legally binding and at the same time can be updated over time if the need arises because of changes in the law or site content.

What typically goes into a set of terms of service?

Your site’s terms may provide a list of definitions for key terms while also explaining the website’s rules and policies and how they apply to users of the website. This most commonly is done in the form of a listing of the services and goods provided and a breakdown of any fees associated with these products and services.

Having a good set of terms of use is important for the attraction of clients and because of the legal protections they can provide.

Potential clients put a lot end to put a lot of stock in a well written set of terms because they make it clear to just how they will benefit from the web service and what that benefit is going to cost them.

Companies that post terms and conditions to their websites benefit from the certainty their clients feel when visiting a site with a well written set of terms. However, they also will benefit from their terms of service because they can be written with disclaimers and other protective shield language to offer a fair amount of protection as website owners.

How do you get your own set of terms of service?

Does your bursiness need a terms of service document put together for your website? Internet Lawyer Mike Young has been helping businesses by preparing their terms of service and other website legal documents since the mid-1990s. To get new terms or service or have your existing terms reviewed, set up a telephone consultation with Attorney Young.

Your Twitter Tweets: Who Owns Them?

By Intellectual Property, Internet Lawyer

Twitter has long taken the position that you own your tweets. When you tweet, you’re giving Twitter a license to distribute your content via its services.

Just because you own the content you tweet doesn’t mean that Twitter is going to protect you if a court wants copies of what you’ve tweeted. Until recently, Twitter took the position that because you own the content, the company didn’t have to cooperate with court requests for copies of your tweets. If you closed your Twitter account, that was the end of it.

However, courts take a different view of the matter. Now Twitter has caved on the issue and has just turned over tweets to a New York court without the consent of the user who tweeted the content.

This is consistent with Twitter’s Terms of Service that provides in relevant part…

You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

In other words, just because you may own the content you tweet doesn’t mean you get final say on who gets copies of that content. And if a court wants copies of what you’ve tweeted, Twitter’s policy appears to be full cooperation even if that hurts you. Think twice before tweeting something that could come back to haunt you in legal proceedings.

Terms of Service: Google Drive, Gmail, and Your Intellectual Property

By Intellectual Property

Google’s simplified Terms of Service arguably give the company the right to compete against you using your own intellectual property…if you store your content in the new Google Drive or include it in an email attachment.

Here’s the key part found in the Terms of Service under “Your Content in our Services.”

“…You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you
hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.
When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you
give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use,
host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as
those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we
make so that your content works better with our Services),
communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and
distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are
for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our
Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if
you stop using our Services

If you’re confident in Google’s unofficial “Don’t Be Evil” policy, then perhaps there’s nothing to worry about. On the other hand, the license seems to give Google the right to take your content to compete against you, or even give the content to others (“those we work with”) to become your competitors.

If this isn’t what Google intended, the Terms of Service needs to be revised to clearly state what Google plans to do with your intellectual property.

Privacy Policy Changes And Terms of Service Updates

By Internet Lawyer

Website attorney updatesYour website attorney probably gets asked this question a lot. When you’re updating your website’s terms of service (a.k.a. terms of use, terms and conditions of use) or privacy policy, how do you let your website visitors and clients know about it?

For those who have opted into one of your email lists, send out a brief notice that…

1. Tells them you’ve updated the documents.
2. Briefly explains in plain English what you’ve changed.
3. Includes a link to the changed document on your site so they can read it.

For those who visit your site but aren’t on your lists, post a notice on your home page. Here’s an example…

“Our Privacy Policy has been updated. Please click here to see what’s been changed.”

Of course, you’ll want to link from the statement to the policy that’s been modified.

Be sure to use a decent-sized font and don’t try to hide the notice by matching the font color to your site’s background. Make it easy to see.

In other words, treat your visitors and clients with the same respect you like to receive when the websites you go to change their terms and policies. If you have any questions, talk with your website attorney to ensure you’re doing the right thing by your visitors and clients while minimizing your legal risks in the process.

If you haven’t updated your website legal documents to reflect the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines that went into effect on December 1, 2009, chances are what you have on your website is obsolete.

To your online success!

-Mike the Website Attorney