Terms of Use

Writing Terms of Use Policies

Terms of Use are the policies that you see on websites.  Sometimes users are asked to click “I agree” before gaining access to the website.  Other times they are merely posted on the bottom of the website.  The vast majority of website users never read these terms.

Website users should be aware of the following with regard to Terms of Use:

  1. They protect the company, not the site user.
  2. The website user gives away a lot of rights.
  3. The Terms of Use are always changing.
  4. They are binding agreements and courts often uphold them.

I recommend that users read Terms of Use before clicking “I agree” on accessing the site. “Why?”, you may ask.  The reason is that oftentimes the Terms of Use are extremely broad.  Examples of sites with broad Terms of Use are Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc.  For example, Facebook’s Terms of Use state “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.” This means that the website may have rights to the information you post there.  According to case law, users have the right to information in profile and in their webmail inbox, but probably not information on wall or other public information.

On the other hand, if you own a website, there are things you should be aware of with regard to Terms of Use.  Many website owners copy and paste their Terms of Use from another website and put them in small font at the bottom of the website.  This is not recommended because Terms of Use must be visible and must be agreed to by the people that visit your site.

To learn more about writing terms of use policies for your website, contact Ritter Law Firm today.