Is your website meeting legal guidelines? Do you know what legal notices you should have on your website, to ensure you and your site are protected? Many website owners skip adding legal notices to their site because they aren’t sure that is needed and/or what it should say, today our Guest Blogger and Attorney Merissa V. Grayson from The Law Office of Merissa V. Grayson, is sharing with us the 5 Legal notices you should have on any website.

In today’s society, there have been so many major technological advances over the last decade.  We have gone from the pen and paper world, to the computer world, from classified newspapers and the yellow pages in the phone book, to the internet.

It’s pretty much undisputed that an online presence is essential to success of any business or brand.  Surprisingly, many people don’t even consider the fact that an online presence comes with risks, rules, and consequences.  If you’re missing certain legal notices on your site, you may be at a higher risk of liability.  You are probably breaking the laws of the online world yourself and don’t even know it!  But you’re not alone, most people are… what is required of your website is not exactly clear-cut.  Some websites require legal notices, some don’t.   The legal requirements that apply to your specific situation depend on the purpose of your website and how it functions. Many basic websites can get by with just a disclaimer and/or privacy policy; others may need more.

I know I know…it’s a bit confusing.  But, here are some of the standard notices all website owners should consider:

Disclaimer– A disclaimer is a statement about how people can use and access the information on your site.  The purpose is to limit your liability for site visitors’ use of the information or services provided by your site.  Disclaimers are often used by those who have a lot of information and resources on their site such as blogs, articles, external links, etc.  Common disclaimers include:

  • Site content: If your site is informational (such as a blog), a disclaimer can inform users that  the information on your site is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice.
  • User posted content: If your site contains a forum or other means for visitors to submit comments or other content, a disclaimer can warn site visitors that the forum/contents are not monitored and may contain content that is not endorsed by you.
  • External Link: If you and/or site users link to any outside websites or resources, a disclaimer can be used to clarify that you are not responsible for the site’s accuracy, not endorsing the site and that the information in it is not your own.

Privacy Policy– Your site should have a privacy policy if you collect any type of information from site visitors such as email, phone numbers, addresses, names, gender, race, occupation, etc.  The privacy policy tells site visitors about how the information is collected, how you will use the information collected, who that information is shared with, stored, and managed.

Terms and Conditions-Most websites should contain terms and conditions.  Terms and conditions let site visitors know your site rules.   This is how you let users know how they can and cannot use your website such as:

  • How to credit content and/or pictures if they use it (i.e. crediting images, links back to the site, etc.)
  • Whether site membership is required to post comments or other content
  • Who can use your site: Age restrictions that (i.e. underage 15 requires adult permission), Geographical restrictions (i.e. If you are only licensed to conduct business in specific states/countries, etc.)
  • Rights to use or remove-Situations that may result in users comments/comments being deleted (i.e. “spamming is not tolerated and will result in removal of your comments).
  • Right to re-use or reproduce- lets users acknowledge that any content they submit to your site doesn’t infringe on intellectual property laws and that they give you permission to re-use or reproduce it.

Intellectual Property Notices- Your copyrights, patents, and trademarks are your intellectual property.  It’s important to have Intellectual property notices on your site so your visitors will know who owns the rights to information, slogans, logos, etc. on your site and how they may use that information. (i.e. “any content downloaded/obtained from this site may be used for non-commercial use only”). These notices can also be used to let users know if you plan to claim the rights to any content posted by them to your site.

Legal Jurisdiction- Stating the state, country, etc. your website originates in and is associated with lets visitors know what laws you are operating under.  It puts them on notice as to where they should file a lawsuit against you (not that anyone would want to sue you right?) and could prevent you from being sued in foreign jurisdictions where the laws are different than those your site operates under.

More Tips to keep your Website protected:

  1. If you are unsure on what notices you need, you should consult with an attorney. In the meantime, it’s better to be safe than sorry: it makes more sense to have a notice that is not required than to not have one that is required.
  2. Make sure your legal notices are placed in an obvious place on your website.
  3. Make sure you and all your staff members, including volunteers, understand the notices
  4. Keep your disclaimers up to date.

Do you need more help with the type of content your should have on your website? Download my free eBook Website Content Workbook: A Guide for what should go inside your Website.

 

[successbox]Merissa Merissa V. Grayson is the principal attorney at The Law Office of Merissa V. Grayson.  Her firm focuses on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Small Business & Entertainment. The Small Business & Entertainment division of the firm helps those pursuing entrepreneurship or a career in the entertainment industry make choices that are best for them to ensure that their career and/or business is fully protected and aligned with their objectives. www.merissagraysonlaw.com /www.justsouknow.info. [/successbox]