A Terms & Conditions document for a website is an agreement the website makes with its users about how to use the site properly, as well as the obligations and responsibilities of each. Most websites, especially commercial websites, have a portion of the site devoted to Terms & Conditions, because it's the most important document for letting your site users know what you expect of them. If you are running any kind of business or personal website that allows users to interact with your site, it's a good idea to have a clearly laid out document with all the Terms & Conditions you require.
One of the primary functions of a Terms & Conditions document is to outline what will happen in a variety of different possible situations, including if the user breaks the rules and must have his/her account terminated. If the user goes in knowing what to expect, it is less likely that there will be problems between the user and the website down the road.
The Terms & Conditions document on any website creates a legally binding set of rules for the user, as well as, in most cases, the website owner. It's a place to set up expectations for each of the parties and ensure that the use of the website runs smoothly for both.
How to use this document
These Terms & Conditions outline the basic responsibilities for a user to your website, including what the user can and can't do, what happens in case of a dispute, and how you may go about terminating their account if you need to. You should use this document when you are just setting up a new business or personal website, or when you are updating the rules on your current website.
Within this document, you can choose several different models for what your website does, such as whether it sells products or services, gives professional advice or lets other users post content like pictures, video, or status updates. It also addresses what happens if the user does anything to harm your website, like violates your intellectual property rights.
Importantly, in these Terms & Conditions, you can choose what state you live in, which will apply the law of that state to this document.
Although there is not one set of laws or regulations outlining what must be contained in the Terms & Conditions for a website, website disclosures are broadly governed under U.S. Common Law and the advertising and privacy laws of the Federal Trade Commission.
Terms & Conditions are not strictly required for live websites, but having a set of Terms & Conditions allows you to determine the rules for others using your website. Specifically, as well, a best practice for a Terms & Conditions document is to try to give the user information about what happens in almost any situation of their interaction with your website.
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