Sentry Page Protection
 

Legal Basics for Your Startup

 

key terms

Terms & Conditions • Terms of Use • Terms of Service
Non-commercial Use • Commercial Use
Website Disclaimer
Privacy Policy
 

objectives

1. Learn the three contracts are needed on your website to essentially CYA

 

 

protecting your website

There are three main ways that you can protect your website by entering into a "contract" with your visitors.  It is important to have these three things readily available to your visitors, usually by placing links to them in your footer.  If the agreements or contracts are violated but it is found that the visitors didn't have easy access to them, then your case is a little bit weaker then if the links were placed in a accessible location, like the footer.

01. Terms & Conditions

Debatably the same as Terms of Use and Terms of Service agreements, the Terms & Conditions (the phrase Skill Space chose to use ourselves), is designed to protect all the content on your website.  Therefore, put one in place!  Lawyers as well as a few websites like Termsfeed.com can help you word and draw up a Terms & Conditions agreement so you can install one on your website.

When are you Allowed to Use Other's Work?

Terms of Use (ToU) and Terms of Service (ToS) can also be used to actually remove restrictions from visitors.  An example of this is from photographers, graphic designers, and web designers who might state in their ToU/ToS that anyone can download and use their graphics, images, photographs, etc for either commercial or non-commercial use.  Non-commercial use is essentially not-for-profit use of content or material, whereas commercial use is for-profit.  

Another form of this is the creative commons license, which can also be for non-commercial or commercial use.

Example

FontSquirrel.com and dafont.com offer free and paid fonts for users to download.  Some of them are deemed "free for non-commercial use" meaning you can use it on a personal basis but not for official purposes in relation to an established entity or business.  For that, you would need a commercial license to use the font.

Caveats

All of this is further complicated based on how you plan on using the work, if you are modifying it, if you credit back to the original author or artist, etc.  Scroll back up to the fair use doctrine for a little more explanation.

 

02. Website Disclaimer

Having a website disclaimer on your website protects your liability and responsibility.  

Example 1

At the beginning of this lesson I posted a disclaimer that this lesson is for information only and cannot replace the actual advice of a lawyer.  Why?  Because I'm not a lawyer and I don't want you to sue me if you use what I say and only what I say to 100% protect yourself from legal action.  Listen, I've done a lot of research to bring you all this information, but at the end of the day, this is just an overview and is not personalized or individualized.  Therefore, that disclaimer protects me (in this instance) and you (on your website) from liability and responsibility for what readers take away from your words and content.

Example 2

Think about diet, food, and nutrition bloggers.  They may swear up and down that Weight Watchers program is the sole reason they lost 75 pounds and therefore if you read their blog then you will also lose 75 pounds.  Well, technically you need to consult a medical professional before going on any diet program.  A disclaimer would protect the blog from being held responsible should the person sue because Weight Watchers didn't help them lose 75 pounds or a nutritional imbalance was developed because they followed the Weight Watcher program (and you guessed right that Weight Watchers has a disclaimer and other agreements in place to also protect them from the same person).

 

03. Privacy Policy

A privacy policy protects your visitors and any information they give to you.  In fact, several states actually require a business have a privacy policy.  If your state doesn't, but you are reaching out to visitors who reside in those states, that also counts.  Therefore, it's just good practice to have a privacy policy on your website or blog.

A privacy policy is an agreement or contract that you enter into with your visitors that informs and discloses the ways in which personal information is gathered, used, and possibly disseminated.  Personal information is considered anything that can identify an individual, including their name and email address provided when they sign up for newsletters.  Many websites are not acting alone: they have third-parties assisting them in the functioning of their website or blog.  For example, many users, including Skill Space use Mail Chimp for their newsletters.  Mail Chimp has it's own privacy policy and terms of use, but it is still required by privacy law that the blogger or website owner using Mail Chimp or a similar service to collect email addresses to disclose their own privacy policy on how that information will be used.  Yes, 99% of the time, it really is as simple as providing an email address to sign up for a newsletter and that is it.  However, 1% of the time, personal information can be used for additional reasons.  Reading privacy policies will let you know exactly what that website will be doing with whatever information you give them.  You can go ahead and read ours to get an idea of what is involved in a privacy policy.

Termsfeed.com, PrivacyPolicies.com, and FreePrivacyPolicy.com are resources for customizing a Privacy Policy on your website.

 

 
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