Your Website Terms of Service

Cliff Ennico on

"I operate a website with training and instructional materials for people who want to engage in certain online activities.

"Lately I've been getting 'cease and desist letters' from companies saying that I am doing things on their websites that violate their Terms of Service.

"I've looked into their complaints, and it seems that while I am not doing anything to harm these companies, some of my customers may -- without my permission and in violation of my instructions -- be doing things on these sites that the companies have a right to complain about.

"When I mention this to the lawyers who write the letters, they say that my website Terms of Service does not explicitly prohibit people from engaging in improper or illegal behavior.

"I admit that when we first launched our website we 'borrowed' our Terms of Services from another similar company in Europe, and assumed that it would be okay for us to use.

"I guess you're going to yell at me for not doing a better job on this, right?"


You are 100% correct.

The website terms-of-service document (if you are hosting a software application on your site, this may be called a user agreement or license agreement instead) is probably the most overlooked document in the entire legal contract canon.

Too many website owners think that "since nobody reads these things anyway, it doesn't really matter what they say, so let's save some money on lawyers and just grab someone else's document."

My position when it comes to website Terms of Service documents is exactly the opposite: Since they are your first line of defense against potential lawsuits, lawyers need to be involved.


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Candorville David Horsey Zack Hill Crankshaft Bart van Leeuwen Nick Anderson