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Does Every Website Need Terms of Use and a Privacy Policy?

Does Every Website Need Terms and a Privacy Policy Contract Template

Whether you're a freelancer, business coach, course creator or sell digital products, your website is an important piece of your business puzzle. 

Even if your main marketing to clients is done through Instagram, TikTok or another social media platform, it’s likely that your website is their last stop before hiring you as their coach or for a project, or purchasing one of your products.

What are Website Terms of Use? 

Imagine your website policies as the house rules for your online abode. These policies, including your Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Disclaimers, aren't just a legal jigsaw puzzle – they're your way of setting expectations and boundaries for everyone who walks through your digital doors. Your website terms are different than your client service agreements. Anyone who visits your website is subject to your website terms (the general public!), versus a client who has specifically decided to hire or buy from you.

Are Website Terms of Use Legally Required?

Well, yes and no. General terms and conditions for using your website, for example, that outline your payment and refund policies and licensing provisions (aka, how people can and can’t use your content and resources on your website) aren’t legally required. But, they are legally binding. 

However, if you have a website that collects any form of personal information, like emails, then you’re legally required to have a privacy policy.

Laws like the European Union's GDPR, California's CCPA, and the Canadian CAN-SPAM Act aren't just alphabet soup; they're regulations that can impact your business's reputation and your bank account.

Something that might surprise you, is that in most cases, the law of where the user is located governs their use of your site, not where you the owner, reside. For example, if you are based in Canada, but a user from California visits your site, then your site needs to comply with the CCPA, which is the privacy laws for California.  This is why it’s so important to have thorough, lawyer drafted policies that are robust and up-to-date and not just simply copied from someone else's site. Who knows where they got them! As a lawyer working with entrpreneurs for over a decade, you can bet I've seen some doozy (read: non-compliant policies!). No shame here, you don't know what you don't know. Kudo's to you for reading this and learning more about legally protecting your business though!

I digress. 

For both your website terms and your privacy policy, these should be tailored policies to your policies, and why and how you use, collect, store and delete any personal information and other data you collect form users to your Website. 

Why Should I Have Website Terms of Use?

Picture this: a potential client visits your website and sees crystal-clear policies that scream, "I've got nothing to hide!" Tailored policies aren't just about legality; they're about trust. Showcasing your commitment to transparency and being up front about how you conduct business, and what clients or customers can expect from you from a customer services perspective can be the difference between making a sale and looking for someone else to purchase form. 

Website Terms of Use Legally Protect You and Your Business

Entrepreneurship is an exhilarating ride, but it's not without its bumps. Tailored policies can be your superhero cape, swooping in to protect you from legal dilemmas. Disclaimers can limit your liability, licensing provisions can be the basis of an infringement claim, and clear and easy-to-find payment and refund policies could make the difference between you winning or losing a chargeback dispute. As always, clear and specific policies will win the day, over vague or non-existent policies.  

In my opinion, you are legally leaving yourself open to legal claims fighting a losing battle if you have a website without clear terms of use. You're being even riskier not having a legally compliant and robust privacy policy and could be subject to hefty fines and even law suits. Why risk it? If you have a website, you should have clear terms, and a thorough and tailored privacy policy. 


When Do I Need to Update my Website Terms and Privacy Policy?

Just as trends evolve, so do laws and regulations. Lawyers and judges are being given a serious run for their money these days, trying to keep up with the changing online landscape (hello, A.I.!)

As a rule of thumb, if anything changes, like the products or services you offer, it’s a great chance to update your terms of use. If you purchase a Website Terms of Use and Privacy Policy Template from us, we send you the updated version if and when the laws change. The start of a new calendar or school year is a great time to do a website terms and privacy policy audit, to make sure they are all accurate and up-to-date. 

Where Should My Website Terms and Privacy Policy Live on My Website? 

The best place is a separate page linked at the bottom of your website. For important clauses (like payment terms, refunds, and copyright licenses) or things you get asked all the time, I like to frame these as a question and include them in the FAQ section of your website. That way if someone says they didn’t see that policy (like in a chargeback dispute claim), you can point to several different areas of your website where you clearly set out your policies. 

To Wrap Up….

I get it, Website Terms of Use and Privacy Policies are not the sexiest part of your website, but they are so important! If you want to do a deeper dive, check out this blog: Do I Really need a Privacy Policy?

Ultimately,  tailored website policies are an easy legal protection to implement in your business, and not only help you stay legally compliant, but help build trust with your community. If you need Website Terms for your site, check out one of our Bundles here - which are easy to customize and implement in your business. 

Privacy Policy Template Canada GDPR EU CCPA
Website Terms Template Online Course Canada

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