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The 5 Documents You Need to “Legalize” Your Website

February 22, 2018

You purchased your domain name, installed your website theme, designed your website, and now you’re ready to start posting content. But wait, what legal documents does your website need? There are 5 documents that every website should have:

  1. Terms & Conditions Policy (“T&Cs”): T&Cs outline the policies of your website. It will inform users of what information is being collected and how it can be used by third parties. For example, if you have affiliate links on your website, your T&Cs will notify users that their information might be collected for statistical purposes on a third party (the affiliate’s) website. It will also outline the consequences of users who abuse your website. T&Cs can also limit your liability in cases where errors are found in the content presented on the website.

2. Privacy Policy: If you collect any personal information from visitors (i.e. taking an e-mail address when someone subscribes to your newsletter), you are required to have a privacy policy that informs your visitors that their information is being collected. This privacy policy should include what type of information you collect, how that information is used, what third parties have access to that information (influencer or ad networks), how a person can opt-out of personal information being shared or stored, and the processing of payments made on the website (i.e. credit card information/PayPal). Your privacy policy should be at the foot of your website.

3. Disclosure Notice: The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) requires you to include a disclosure notice if you are advertising products or services. You are required to include a disclosure notice even if you’ve gotten products for free. You are also required to include a disclosure notice if you are an affiliate earning a commission for something that you are writing about. The disclosure can be at the top or bottom of a post, but it must be located somewhere on the post. For example, you can state something like: “This is a sponsored post.” Similarly, on social media, you are required to use a disclosure such as #ad, #paid, or #sponsored.

4. Disclaimers: If you’re writing about medical, legal, financial, personal training, or life-coaching/wellness topics, it is important to include a disclaimer that what you are writing should not be taken as professional advice, so as to not mislead your readers. Although you will want to clarify your role in providing specialized advice to the public, you will also want to advise users that the information is being used for educational and general purposes and that a licensed provider should be contacted. Disclaimers are not mandatory, but lets your readers know that you are just providing them with information and that they should consult with a professional advisor before making a decision. You want to avoid someone taking legal action against you.

5. Copyright Notice: You do not have to formally register your content with the US Copyright Office to place the “©” conspicuously on the footer of your website. If you ever need to sue a copyright infringer, having a clear copyright notice helps establish that the infringer had actual notice of your rights — he can’t “play dumb” that he didn’t know it was your stuff.

To find out what documents your website might need and to work with me directly, contact me here.

**DISCLAIMER: The information given here is general in nature and does not create an attorney-client relationship. **

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