Business

The Importance of Terms and Conditions

terms & conditions
Sharon Givoni
Written by Sharon Givoni

The Importance of Including Terms and Conditions on Your Website – A rundown for creative businesses

What happens if your business has posted information on its website that isn’t up to date and a customer relies on it? Is it just your reputation at stake or is there more on the line?

There are a number of risks that can arise from operating a website. In order to safeguard yourself, it important to have well drafted terms and conditions in place.

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TERMS AND CONDITIONS – ARE THEY NECESSARY?

Usually no one bothers to read the terms and conditions of a website. However, terms and conditions are vital in outlining the conditions of use in relation to purchasing products, using your intellectual property and your privacy policy.

Concise and clear terms and conditions can point your customers in the right direction if they need to make further enquiries and reduce confusion about the responsibility you take for any third parties activities on your website.

In short, terms and conditions are necessary in running any retail website. Here is a short list of items ordinarily included in terms and conditions that you may want to include in yours.

BUSINESS DETAILS

Business details can include your refunds policy and payment processes and whether your business will allow refunds beyond what is required under the Australian Consumer Law.

You may be required by law to provide customers with your business contact details and these can easily be included in your terms and conditions.

TIP: Include the full trading name of your business and its ABN or ACN and valid contact details in your terms and conditions.

COPYRIGHT PROTECTION

Copyright protection is automatic and does not require registration, but your intellectual property rights may need protecting from customers or third parties using your website. You need to make this clear in your Terms and Conditions to stop other parties from using your intellectual property without your consent.

You may want to consider outlining the process a third party can take to use your copyrighted material, in order to make it clear that you do not authorise the use of your material otherwise.

TIP: You may want to allow another party to use your image in order to market your products and your business. If this is the case, it is advisable to clearly outline the procedure and contact details for the other party to obtain your written consent to use these images for that purpose.

USE OF HYPERTEXT LINKS

You may wish to make it clear that your website is an authorised link and will not lead users to a false website, or worse, a virus.

One way to do this is to allow a third party to use your trademark for the sole purpose of providing a hypertext link to your website. If this is the case, you need to include this authorisation in your terms and conditions.

TIP: Don’t forget to reserve your right to make any changes to any intellectual property concessions.

ACCESSING YOUR WEBSITE IS AT THE USER’S OWN RISK

It may be worthwhile alerting users who use your website that they do so at their own risk. This makes it clear that you do not take responsibility for any viruses that may originate from your website.

PROTECTION FROM LEGAL ACTIONS CONCERNING THE ACCURACY OF INFORMATION

You may want to include a disclaimer stating that the information included in your website is not intended to be the only representation concerning your products.

This reduces the risk of customers being misled by relying on the accuracy of the information displayed on your website.

This condition can also apply to third party information that you have sourced and included on your website, such as graphical representations of products. This condition is important to protect your business from liability arising from third party activity of which you may have no control over.

TIP: Provide customers with a means to obtain up-to-date information – remember to include your contact details for customers to get in touch with you.

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CONCLUSION

Clear and concise terms and conditions will be invaluable to your business. The above Terms and Conditions are a snapshot of some of the things you should keep in mind when creating or updating your website.

Depending on the needs of your business, your Terms and Conditions may need to address a number of other factors and it is advisable to seek independent legal advice.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This article is of a general nature only and must not be relied upon as a substitute for tailored legal advice from a qualified professional. Sharon Givoni owns copyright in this article.

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About the author
Sharon Givoni
Sharon Givoni

Sharon Givoni is a Melbourne-based intellectual property lawyer with clients in the creative industry. She does trademark and designs work as well as contracts and copyright advice. Sharon’s book Owning It: A Creative’s Guide to Copyright, Contracts and the Law, available through Creative Minds Publishing (www.creativemindshq.com/owningit), aims to demystify the law for creative business owners. Sharon can be contacted by email (sharon@iplegal.com.au) or called on 0410 557 907 or 03 9527 1334. Her website for “Sharon Givoni Consulting” is: www.sharongivoni.com.au.

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