What is a Website Agreement?
A website agreement mentions the terms and conditions of usage. These terms and conditions are followed by website users. Most importantly a web agreement provides details of the license of copyrights. It helps in creating a legal relationship with everyone who visits the website. It doesn’t matter whether they buy anything or not, avail any services or even identify themselves.
However, Website agreements are legally binding and subject to change without notice.
Why do we need Terms and Conditions on a Website?
With the help of terms and conditions, one can protect his/her website and its users. Most terms and conditions for websites set out issues such as permitted usages, privacy, cookies, registration, passwords, intellectual properties, disclaimers etc., which are necessary to protect a website from liabilities of a user who relies on the information, goods and services provided and then suffers a loss.
Elements of Website Terms and Conditions
Some of the most important things included in the terms and conditions of a website are as follows:
- The manner and the way used to collect information
- Terms of service are specified for online sales of goods and services
- Specify applicable taxes on the purchase
- Terms of intellectual property protection of the website
- License clause to restrict the user from copying data from the website
- Conditions applicable to interacting with other users and posting comments
- Clauses to the Jurisdiction of any legal proceeding
- Terms of cancellation and refund
- Contact information in case of grievance, complaint and disputes etc.
Laws governing the website agreements and terms & conditions
In India, the Information Technology Act, 2000 governs the website agreements and its terms and conditions.
Who should maintain the Terms and Conditions of a website?
However, as per the Information Technology Act, all corporates, businesses and entities who gather, use, deal with handling personal data or information are required to maintain security practices and procedures designed to protect such information from unauthorized access, damage, use, modification etc.
As a rule, if you do not have terms and conditions for use, the website is at potential risk. Moreover, if there is any disclosure of information in breach of lawful contract the punishment is imprisonment extending up to 3 years and a fine which may extend up to 5 lakh rupees or with both of them.
Benefits of the terms and conditions for the website
- Own your content: As a website owner, you are the owner of your logo, content (excluding the user-generated content) etc. Hence, in the terms and conditions, you can inform users that you are the exclusive owner of such contents and no one has the right to copy the same as it’s protected by copyrights.
- Liability: The terms and conditions agreement usually include a disclaimer that limits the website owner’s liability in cases where discrepancies are found in the contents on that website. Moreover, these clauses notify users that owner cannot be responsible for any errors in the content presented, or for the information provided is accurate, complete or suitable for any purpose.
- The accurate information collected from website users (names, email address, contact information etc.)
- The method of information collection for example survey, online quizzes etc.
- The manner of information used and shared.
- The protection provided to user information
- How to opt-out of data sharing and the consequences.