If your business has a website, it’s critical to protect your business through the appropriate website policies. But, with so much potential fine print, how do you know which policies you really need? In this post, we’ll review several of the most common policies and what kind of businesses need them, including:
- Website Terms and Conditions
- Earnings Disclaimer
- Purchase and Refund Policy
- License for Use of Digital Products
- Affiliate Program Terms and Conditions
- Disclosure Policy
Website Terms and Conditions
What are website terms and conditions?
What is included in website terms and conditions?
Typically, your website terms and conditions will include:
- Website usage – How can your audience use your site? What types of usage are prohibited?
- Intellectual property notices – this might include statements regarding ownership of copyrights and trademarks related to the website.
- Third-party content – This will cover your usage of the content contributed by third parties and provide parameters about what is acceptable as a contribution.
- Third-party linking – if you link to third party content or products, you may include a waiver of your liability as it relates to this content.
- Waiver of warranties regarding information on the site and site performance.
- Indemnity and limitation of liability – to guide when the user will need to hold the website owner harmless and to restrict certain types of damages against the website owner.
- Arbitration provisions in the case of a dispute.
- Reservation of the right to modify the terms.
- If you have a course or membership site, you will also need terms governing these aspects of the website.
Who needs website terms and conditions?
If you are a business with a website, we recommend that you have terms and conditions.
- A list of the types of personal information that are collected. For example, this could include name, email address, IP address, or purchase information.
- How the information is collected. For example, is it voluntarily submitted by a user or tracked automatically through a cookie?
- How the information is used. Common examples are marketing, purchase fulfillment, account maintenance, site performance.
- Whether the information is shared with any third parties. This could include an email service provider (for sending newsletters), a payment processor, scheduling software, other types of software.
- An overview of marketing that tracks behavior, such as usage of the Facebook pixel to create retargeting ads, email newsletters that track user analytics, etc.
- Policy regarding information from children.
- Prohibition on submitting certain sensitive information (such as a social security number).
- Rights for residents of the European Union (GDPR), if applicable.
- Rights for residents of California (CCPA), if applicable.
What is a disclaimer?
A disclaimer is a policy that can help protect a website owner for liability related to the publication of content on the website.
What is included in a disclaimer?
A disclaimer typically includes:
- A notice that all content is provided for informational purposes only.
- A disclaimer of warranties on the content.
- A disclaimer of liability for the viewer’s use of certain content.
- Notification that the viewer should contact certain professionals for content related to various fields. For example, a medical disclaimer may advise the viewer of the content to reach out to their doctor before making any changes based on the content on the website.
Who needs a disclaimer?
If you provide content for informational purposes on your website, you should have a disclaimer. This is especially important if you discuss medical (including nutrition or fitness), legal, or financial matters.
What is an earnings disclaimer?
Similar to the disclaimer described above, an earnings disclaimer protects a business from liability regarding information provided regarded making money.
What is included in an earnings disclaimer?
An earnings disclaimer will typically include:
- A notice that all content is for informational purposes only.
- A statement that future results are not guaranteed and will vary.
- Disclaimer of liability for the viewer’s use of certain content.
Who needs an earnings disclaimer?
If your website offers content or programs related to making more money, increasing sales, business growth, etc., you should have an income disclaimer.
Purchase & Refund Policy
What is a purchase and refund policy?
A purchase and refund policy is used on ecommerce websites that sell products (digital or physical).
What is included in a purchase and refund policy?
A refund and purchase policy typically includes:
- Relevant details regarding purchases on the website.
- An overview of the applicable refund policy. If refunds are not available, state that. Some companies vary their refund policy for certain types of products. For example, digital products may have no refund, but a physical product may be eligible. Some companies will only allow refunds in the event that there is a defect. Get specific as this is an area that can directly impact customer satisfaction.
- If you are offering a satisfaction guarantee (full refund) that requires the purchaser to take certain steps, ensure that you have outlined the steps so they know what has to be done.
Who needs a purchase and refund policy?
If you sell products of any kind through your website or ecommerce software, like Shopify, you should have a purchase and refund policy.
License for use of digital goods
What is a license for use of digital goods?
A license for use of digital goods lists how the purchaser on what rights they receive with their purchase.
What is included in a license for use of digital goods?
A license for use of digital goods typically includes:
- Reservation of copyright rights from the owner.
- A limited license of certain rights for the purchaser, which is often be limited to personal use only.
- Statement that prohibits certain usage of the purchased product., such as distribution or sale by the purchaser.
Who needs a license for use of digital goods?
If you sell digital products on your website, you should have a license for use of digital goods. Many companies will incorporate this into their purchase and refund policy.
Affiliate Program Terms and Conditions
What are affiliate program terms and conditions?
If you offer a commission or referral fee for third-parties who refer customers to your website, you have an affiliate program. Affiliate program terms and conditions govern this type of program.
What is included in affiliate program terms and conditions?
Affiliate program terms and conditions typically include:
- Overview of the affiliate and company’s rights and obligations
- How commissions are tracked
- Payments, potentially including the commission structure, payment timing, and method of payment.
- Program restrictions to prohibit certain actions from the affiliates.
- Grant of license to use intellectual property provided by company for use in affiliate’s marketing efforts.
- Limitations of liability.
- Termination provisions.
- Company’s reservation of right to modify the terms.
Who needs affiliate program terms and conditions?
If you have an affiliate program, you should have terms and conditions to govern the program. Many websites will have a separate application for people who want to become affiliates. These terms and conditions are often linked as a part of that application so they in agreement with the terms at the time the relationship is considered.
What is a disclosure policy?
If a website is promoting content for a company that it has a material relationship with, the website may also include a disclosure policy. This is typically found on websites, such as a blog, that post sponsored content or affiliate links. This is done to address the Federal Trade Commission ‘s(FTC) standard for marketing disclosures.
What is included in a disclosure policy?
A disclosure policy typically includes:
- A statement that the website engages in certain types of promotion, such as sponsored content or affiliate marketing.
- An overview of the website’s practices for such marketing.
- A statement regarding FTC-required disclosure that will be completed on the individual content.
Who needs a disclosure policy?
A disclosure policy does not replace FTC-required disclosures on an individual post, so it not a requirement for website owners. (Please note: if you are currently linking to a disclosure policy INSTEAD of properly disclosing in accordance with FTC guidelines, it is not considered sufficient. disclosure) Some owners prefer to have a policy that details their stance on sponsored content and affiliate marketing and this is a perfect place to do that.
If you need assistance drafting policies for your website or auditing the policies you currently have, we’d be happy to assist. Request a Consult!