House Rules

 

Do You Need Terms and Conditions On Your Website?

Good Question. Lets have a look at that.

Terms and conditions provide you with the opportunity to set your own 'house rules'. Ever played monopoly? Did you ever have a rule that no-one could buy property until after they pass 'Go' for the first time? We did, even though it was never in the written rules of the game.

The internet and the use of websites has evolved so quickly that there aren't any rules of the game like there are for monopoly. The World Wide Web Consortium www.W3.org, has been doing its best to make some rules ever since, and those rules are voluntary.

With terms and conditions, you have the opportunity to set some of the 'house rules' around the way customers and visitors use your website.

One of the first things that you can do is chose your area of law and legal venue.

If you don't think this is important, do some searching on a recent case brought by the owners of the Evony computer game against a rather vocal British blogger who commented on their business structure. It is pretty difficult for companies to sue for defamation of character, but under Australian law, certain types of organisations with less than 10 staff members can bring an action. So the Evony people (from the US) sued the British blogger in Sydney, Australia as a result of some of the things he said on his blog.

The Evony game company based in the United States took legal action in an Australian court against a blogger living in England

If the blogger had had terms and conditions on his blog which set out where in the world he was and which laws applied, chances are that the Evony people would have been in England, where he lived, trying to bring a case, and not in Sydney. 

Wouldn't you rather be on your home turf?

This same prinicple can be used to excuse liability in countries where what you are doing is considered an offence. So for example, online gambling is not legal all around the world. If you have pop-up ads on your website that advertise online gambling, you might be committing an offence if accessed in one of those countries. You can include a term which says that the people accessing your website are in a better position to know those rules and take responsibility for what they are accessing.

Think about – where you customers are, and what steps you need to take.

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