What are the Terms of Use, and why do you need them

There is hardly any website you have seen on the Internet without the page - Terms of Use. That is great because it means that users of the websites can be sure of the transparency and honesty of the websites they are using. However, among all essential documents for websites, the Terms of Use are the most confusing. So why do we need an explanation of how to use the website? Isn’t it already obvious? So we at AVITAR decided to shed some light on the Terms of Use and how to make a properly structured document.

What are the Terms of Use

Any e-commerce and social media website has Terms of Use, an agreement that communicates the website's conditions. The use of this document is not limited to the mentioned websites. For example, a website that provides service to users must describe the conditions of this service in the Terms of Use.

You can also find the other names for the Terms of Use, such as Terms and Conditions or Terms of Service, but essentially they all mean the same. It is also worth noting that Terms of Use are subject to change, which should be clearly stated in the text.

Why do you need Terms of Use on your website?

Terms of Use is one of the documents most websites need to have on the website. However, if you doubt whether you need one or not, there are three main reasons to consider:

  1. Tell users about the conditions of your services in simple words.

By reading the Terms of Use, your website visitors can understand more about  the services you provide and the conditions you offer. In addition, for users, it creates more trust around the business because they see that the website owners care about delivering the best experience while using the website.

2. Have a legal ground to protect your rights as a website owner.

This reason goes alongside with the previous one. If you state in the Terms of Use that you don’t want your intellectual property to be shared, the document will be your legal protection in case something alike happens. You will be able to protect your legal rights over the content you own and have a solid reason why the user should have abided by these rules.

3. Control users’ actions regarding the content you place on your website.

On the Internet, you rarely have much control over what happens and who is doing what. That is understandable because web users access the website from their homes or workplaces worldwide. The documents you place on the website give you control over users’ actions.

Types of Terms of Use agreements

There are two types of Terms of Use documents. Although they don’t differ in content, they are different in how they are presented to the users.

  • Browsewrap agreements. Suppose you find the link on the website that leads to the Terms and Conditions webpage. This is the agreement that the reader only has to read and abide by to avoid any legal consequences, but they don’t have to show that they read the document in any way.
  • Clickwrap agreements. This type of agreement is very different because to show that the reader read the document, they must click on the button to agree. Usually, websites with very strict terms of service use this type of agreement to be 100% sure that the users are ready to abide by them.

How to Structure a correct Terms of Use document

Even though the structure of the Terms of Use document is well known, and you can see the references or templates on the Internet, we would still strongly recommend contacting the lawyer. Law firms, like AVITAR, can consult you on how to make the document, structure information in the right way or look through the draft you already prepared if you want to do the first steps yourself.

Anyway, all the Terms of Use type documents have to contain these essential sections:

  • Acceptance of Terms. This is the document's introductory section, informing the user that they are about to read the terms of using the website. They are legally binding themselves to follow them through by agreeing to them.
  • License to Use. Here, the readers will know they have a limited right to use the website by accepting the terms.
  • Cookies. Usually, the Cookie Policy is an entirely different document, but you should also mention how you use cookies on the website in the Terms of Use.
  • Acceptable Use Policy. In this section, you must include what is good to do on the website and what users shouldn’t do. Probably, this is the essential part of the document.
  • International Use and Compliance. If the website is accessible internationally, which it probably is, the mention of abiding by the country's existing laws must be there.
  • User Accounts. If your website allows users can create their accounts, the details of this process must be included in the Terms of Use.
  • Modification of Site. If you don’t plan to change anything now, include this section detailing what you are allowed to modify.
  • Support or Maintenance. You can state in this section whether you are providing customer support or technical maintenance to the website. In case you are not, still, make sure to point it out.
  • Privacy. The Privacy Notice, just like the Cookie Policy, is something different you should have on the website. However, the details of how you approach users’ privacy still must be included in the Terms of Use.
  • Your Rights and Ownership. Here, you will point your rights to the intellectual property you place on the website. For example, the users’ content is not included if you allow them to create and maintain accounts.
  • Disclaimers. If you want to include any type of disclaimers for the information you place or the use of the website, such as that the nature of the data is only to inform, you have to make it in this section.
  • Termination and Modification. In the last section, you can mention that access to the website is controlled by you only, and you can terminate it anytime.

Now, we hope you see the Terms of Use is an essential document on your website. It will protect your intellectual property and make user behavior more organized. Contact a lawyer to help you structure the document. We will happily assist in doing that.

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2.27.2023 17:50
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