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3 Legal Statements You Should Include on Your Business Website

Consider adding these legal statements to your business website.

Getting your business website up and running is an exciting endeavor! As a business owner, you have many tasks to juggle, but one thing you should not neglect is the law.

Many people do not think about including legal terms on their website, and some are overwhelmed with the thought of researching applicable business law. But there are many different legal considerations to think about. To protect your business, content, products and other property, you should include certain legal terms and statements on your business website or blog.

Legal safety leads to trust, trust leads to loyalty, and loyalty leads to more purchases and shares. Here are 3 major elements your website needs in order to be legally legitimate.

1. Privacy Policy

If you are collecting information or data from your website visitors or customers (such as email addresses or credit card information), you need to post a Privacy Policy. This outlines how the information you are collecting will be used or not used. This is required by law!

Why your site needs one

There are two major reasons why your site needs a Privacy Policy. Federal law, and in some cases state law, governs the manner in which you interact with your website visitors.

For example, in the US, the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) states that if you collect any personal information from any California-based users, such as email addresses, phone numbers, or mailing addresses, you are required to have a legal statement available that explains the privacy practices of your business.

Because internet and technology is wide-reaching, the CalOPPA Act in effect means that if you collect any kind of personal information, even just email addresses, you should have that legal statement as required by CalOPPA because it is likely that California residents are using your websites or apps.

What it should contain

The contents of your Privacy Policy depend on the law in your state and they type of website you have.

This quick list will give you a good start:

  • An explanation of the information you collect and what it is used for
  • How people can access and change any information previously collected
  • How you will notify website visitors of changes in your Privacy Policy
  • A statement about age restrictions
  • A statement about how you share any information you collect

2. Terms and Conditions

A Terms and Conditions statement, also known as a Terms of Service or a Terms of Use agreement is a contract you make with the visitors to your website. They set out the behaviors you expect from your visitors as well as what your visitors can expect from you. While a Terms and Conditions agreement is recommended for your website, it's not required by law to have one.

Why your site needs one

In this statement, you can include necessary sections to inform users of the guidelines of using your website, what happens if users are abusing your website, and so on. Well drafted Terms and Conditions can limit your legal liability, protect your intellectual property, and help you collect online payments on time. Without a Terms and Conditions statement, any disputes arising from the use of, or purchases from, your site will likely be more messy and costly.

What it should contain

Similar to your Privacy Policy, the contents of your Terms and Conditions should be specific to your particular business.

Here's a general list of what your Terms and Conditions should possibly contain:

  • A clear definition of what products or services will be provided
  • Where and how disputes will be handled
  • Guarantees and warranties offered
  • Termination of service
  • Intellectual Property policy, such as how yours can and cannot be used
  • Your right to refuse service, including when and how you can exercise it
  • How purchases are processed, if you are a retailer
  • Refund policy and shipping policies, if applicable
  • How changes in your terms will be communicated
  • Disclaimers, if you give advice in certain fields like health, finance, law, etc.
  • Comment policy

3. Copyright Notice

There is a possibility that a visitor might try to steal your online content. Maybe they will copy one of your photos, an animation, or a body of text. To help prevent this conduct, include a copyright notice on your website.

Although it is not legally mandatory, using a copyright notice is free, and may help to deter infringements. It may also help you win greater damages if you sue someone for copying the content on your website. Make it clear to your visitors that your website content is legally yours and they do not have the right to use it without your permission.

Why your site needs one

A Copyright Notice, though not required by law, is a great way to prevent visitors from using your material without your permission. Having a Copyright Notice and a general "How to use my content" policy posted on your website will save you a lot of time, money, and headaches.

What it should contain

The Copyright Notice itself should contain the:

  • The Copyright symbol ©, or the words "Copyright" or "Copr."
  • The year you published your website
  • The name of the copyright owner (Most likely you, or your business)

You can place the copyright notice on the home page or the bottom of the website page. Remember, any piece of artwork or writing is automatically protected under copyright law, regardless of whether it is properly registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. But, placing the "©" on your website provides a clear message to your website visitors that you are aware of your rights and intend to enforce them if someone infringes.

If you should ever need to sue an infringer, the presence of the copyright notice will help you establish that the violator had actual notice of your rights.

The writer of this article is a business professional with a J.D. The writer is not a practicing attorney and this information is not legal advice from the writer or Online Labels, LLC. This information is directed toward US blog readers. Check your state's laws for more detailed information about laws and regulations in your jurisdiction.

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