They’re long and boring, but they do have an important role.
Terms and Conditions (T&C), the long lines of agreements and conditions we just skip over. Whether they are in electronic form through the internet or in a physical form through heaps of paperwork, we just don’t find them enticing to read. But what are they, really? Are they just groups of sentences that were put there for formality? Or do you actually need them for your website? Let’s find out!
The definition of Terms and Conditions
Chances are you have already encountered a variant of terms and conditions agreement on a service your subscribed to or a product you purchased. If you have not come across a Terms and Conditions page, then here is an example:
Are Term and Conditions required by law?
The short answer is no. While they are not required by law or government, it is still recommended to have one for your website and services as they play multiple roles that in general, protect it from being abused. Meanwhile, Privacy Policies are the ones required by law if your website collects personal data like your users’ email address, shipping address, names, mobile numbers, etc.
So what are the importance of Terms and Conditions to your website and services? Let’s go over them one by one:
- It allows you to have full ownership of your content.
With the protection of Terms and Conditions, you are able to tell your users that you have full authority and ownership of the content on your website. You can also inform them that you and your website/content are under the full protection of international copyright laws to dismay them from plagiarizing or copying any content from it.
This Term and Condition can be seen in the commonly referred “Intellectual Property Clause” which usually goes like this:
“This Copyright License Agreement (this “Agreement”) is made effective as of [DATE] between [PROPERTY OWNER], of [ADDRESS], [CITY], [ZIP CODE] and [LICENSED PROPERTY USER], of [ADDRESS], [CITY], [ZIP CODE].
This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of [STATE]. This Agreement will commence on the [EFFECTIVE DATE] and continue until the [TERMINATION DATE] or until either party provides written notice of termination to the other party with a 30 days notice.
In this Agreement, the party granting the right to use the licensed property, [OWNER], will be referred to as the “Owner” and the party who is receiving the right to use the licensed property, [USER], will be referred to as the “User.”
Copyright License Agreement Templated gathered from PandaDoc.
CNN’s Term and Conditions’ Intellectual Property clause.
- You have the power to limit liability.
The agreements within Terms and Conditions usually have a warranty disclaimer that limits the owner of the website’s liability on occasions where mishaps and errors in content are found on the website.
With this clause, owners can be at ease since they cannot be held responsible for the errors found in the website’s content, or for the provided information is complete or accurate that would be suitable for any purpose.
- Prevent abuses from happening to your website/service.
This may be the most important purpose of a Terms and Conditions agreement. A term and condition acts as a contract that is bound by your authority between your users. With this, some users may find loopholes in your website or services that be used to abuse or break the ‘’system’’ of said services. This has happened more frequently as more websites and companies offer a “free trial” business model where at times, users can use extend or effectively create unlimited free trials by registering to the website again but using a different email address or mobile number.
Other examples of abusive actions users can do include spamming or harassing other users with unrelated content, posting inappropriate or defamatory content on your website, or infecting the website with malware or viruses (which can also be spread with the aforementioned spamming of other users).
With that said, terms and condition will shield you from this type of abuse or exploitation of services. If your website or service contains content that is generated by the community, you can write a clause in your Terms and Condition that informs your users the posting of abusive content will not be tolerated, as well spamming and harassing other users with the use of the website’s forum or private messages function. These can also lead to them being temporarily banned from the use of your website or services. A harsher variant of this punishment will be talked about in the next section!
- Delete or terminate accounts that threaten your website’s safety.
This part or clause of a term and condition tells users that continued abusive behavior within the platform will not be tolerated and will be faced with a ban or termination of their account.
This may well be a continuation of Reason #3. If you find a user who poses a threat to your website, services, and most importantly other users’ safety, then it may be time to consider permanently deleting/terminating/banning them from your website. While it may be hard to see a patron of your service go away, it is for the better good as every other user on your website will thank you for this act. The Termination clause is commonly for websites and services that have a registration section user must register with their email address or mobile number before accessing certain pages of the website), forums, or community section (where users can freely post their thoughts about a topic), or a private messaging feature (similar to your conventional messaging apps like Facebook Messenger).
A Termination clause usually looks like this:
“We may terminate your access to the Site, without cause or notice, which may result in the forfeiture and destruction of all information associated with your account. All provisions of this Agreement that, by their nature, should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, indemnity, and limitations of liability.”
Termination clause template gathered from TermsFeed.
The gist of Terms and Conditions Meaning and Purpose
Though we often skip over these long lines of agreements, they do hold a vital purpose for the owners of the website and for the safety of its users. In general, it is best to think of terms and condition for your website as they fill in these important roles:
- If users abuse your website or services in any way or form, you can permanently ban or terminate their account. The"Termination" clause of your terms and condition cover this which gives you the ability to effectively remove users who are causing trouble to be removed from your website.
- If users can post self-generated content on your website or service (create content like written content photos, and videos then share it on your website), you can remove any content they created if it infringes with copyright or contains inappropriate content that may cause other users to feel uneasy. Certain clauses from your terms and condition will tell users that they can only create and share content they own rights to, and that does not go over the abuse clause of your Terms and Condition. Similarly, if users can register for an account using their email address or mobile number and freely choose a username, you can tell users that they are not allowed to choose usernames that may infringe trademarks like Google, Facebook, etc. You can also inform them that they are not allowed to put any restricted remarks within their username (racist remarks or hurtful remarks).
- If your website sells products and services, you could cancel specific orders if a product or service is priced incorrectly. You can include a clause in your Terms and Conditions to inform users that specific orders could be canceled if the products they ordered have incorrect prices due to errors.
Creating a Terms and Condition agreement from scratch may appear tedious, but we highly recommend that you make and put one on your website and services as these will add layers of protection for you and your users alike. It is the best way to ensure that things will run smoothly once you publish your own website.