Website Membership Agreement: 3 Key Legal Protections for Your Site

website membership agreementWhen you’re running a membership site, it’s important to have a website membership agreement, that is, a legally binding contract that identifies the respective rights and responsibilities of you as the site owner and your clients as members.

Why?

A good membership agreement prevents confusion, protects your site content, and provides you with remedies for member misconduct. Here three things you should include in your site’s membership contract.

1. Scope of Membership License.

What are your members allowed to do with the content they can access on your membership site?

Many members mistakenly believe they can download and use all of your site’s content as they see fit.

There are even unethical people out there who will sign up for a membership site, scrape all the valuable content on the site, and then repackage and sell what they’ve scraped.

In essence, you’ve created the content but after paying a small membership fee (and they usually cancel their memberships during the trial period or first month), these bad apples become your competitors. To add insult to injury, because these members don’t have your investment costs in creating the material, it’s easy for them to undercut you on price when selling your content to others.

This is why a membership agreement is a key piece of website legal protection.

Related Article: 5 Business Website Disclosures And Disclaimers

2. Dispute Resolution.

A good membership agreement lets you pursue all remedies available to you in law and equity for intellectual property theft. On the other hand, you should consider using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms, such as a combination of mediation and binding arbitration, to resolve most other disputes that arise between you as the site owner and your members.

In general, ADR is quicker and costs less to resolve disputes than ending up in court in a lawsuit.

Your membership contract should also identify which laws apply to govern the agreement as well as the location of where disputes will be resolved. This reduces the risk you’ll end up applying unfavorable law to a dispute in a jurisdiction far away from where your business is located.

3. Rights after Membership Termination.

Frequently, membership sites include content that members can download to their computers, tablets or smart phones and use at any time.

Do you want members to continue using your content after their membership has been cancelled? If not, you’ll want to include provisions to bar such use.

Related Article: Membership Website – How To Create One The Right Way

Although there are many other provisions your Internet lawyer can include a website membership agreement to protect you, these three areas are the fundamental building blocks for a good contract that lays the ground rules for use of your membership content.

What if you don’t have a website membership agreement for your site?

If you have a membership site, you’ll want a contract in place that protects your rights. If you’d like to discuss getting such an agreement prepared by Web Lawyer Mike Young, the first thing you’ll do is set up a phone consultation.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

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