terms of use

TERMS OF USE

The agreement is useful to The Guardian to set the rules and guidelines for visitors, users and customers:

  • Registration: inform users that they must agree to a set of rules when they register on your website or mobile app
  • Disable or terminate accounts: inform users that their accounts can be disabled or terminated if abuses happen on your website or mobile app, e.g. spamming, swearing etc.
  • Owner of content: notify users that you, the company, is the owner of the content appearing on your website or mobile app – except in cases where other users can post content (upload, share, create etc.) where the users are the owners of such content
  • Changes to the agreement: users should be informed about upcoming changes to the agreement before the changes are applied.
  • DMCA: The Guardian is also informing owners of copyright content that they can submit a DMCA notice to the website if they found infringing content in their DMCA clause.
  • And more

These are only a few examples of what kind of clauses and disclosures you can add in this kind of agreement.

What is a Terms of Use

While a Terms of Use is recommended to have, it’s not mandatory by law as the Privacy Policy agreement is required.

This agreement serves a single purpose: to inform users of rules that they must agree to. A Privacy Policy must inform users about your privacy practices (what data you collect, why, how, etc.)

The definition of a Terms of Use agreement is simple:

Terms of service (also known as terms of use and terms and conditions, commonly abbreviated as ToS or TOS and TOU) are rules which one must agree to abide by in order to use a service.

Wikipedia

Because this agreement simply acts as a contract between you, the company, and the users using or accessing your website or mobile app, the agreement can be named as you’d like:

  • Terms of Use (ToU)
  • Terms of Service (ToS)
  • Terms and Conditions (T&C)
  • User Agreement
  • Conditions of Use
  • And so on

The “Conditions of Use” of Amazon could be named “Terms of Use”:

eBay names it “User Agreement”:

 

Agreements like this are usually composed with the following clauses added:

  • Introduction
  • User Content, if the website or mobile app allows for users to create or share content
  • Copyright infringement or DMCA (DMCA is for US only)
  • Warranty
  • Limitation of Liability
  • Indemnification
  • Arbitration
  • Choice of law or Governing law

Examples of Terms of Use

The Terms of Use of Pandora is linked from their website’s footer, labeled as “Terms”:

The page provides a quick and clear summary of their agreement:

Here is a Summary of Pandora’s Terms of Use:

  • You must be at least 13 years old to open a Pandora account.
  • Pandora can only be used in the United States, New Zealand, Australia and those countries’ respective territories.
  • You are solely responsible for protecting your own account password and other account information.
  • Unless you have an active DMX Pandora for Business account, Pandora is for personal use only. That means you can’t play Pandora for the patrons in your bar, coffee shop, etc.
  • You can’t use Pandora to steal music or other content, and you have to listen to it through pandora.com or on a device officially supported by Pandora.
  • Do not use Pandora if you do not agree to the Terms of Use described below. Your use of Pandora means you agree to these Terms of Use.
Pandora

The rules set in this agreement are clear and they could have easily been set in a contract:

  • Minimum age required to sign and accept the agreement
  • The location where the service can be used in
  • Rules on how to use the service: you can’t if you are a bar owner and don’t have a business account; you can’t use it to steal music by any means
  • Informing users that the service can’t be used if they don’t agree to the agreement

Pandora Terms of Use Summary

Kickstarter also uses the name of “Terms of Use” for their legal agreement and it goes into details on how funding works on their platform, what are the rules between backers and creators and so on:

Instagram also uses the name of “Terms of Use”:

Here’s how the introduction in their agreement informs users that they must agree to the presented agreement in order to use the service (the Instagram app):

By accessing or using the Instagram website, the Instagram service, or any applications (including mobile applications) made available by Instagram (together, the “Service”), however, accessed, you agree to be bound by these terms of use (“Terms of Use”). The Service is owned or controlled by Instagram, LLC (“Instagram”). These Terms of Use affect your legal rights and obligations. If you do not agree to be bound by all of these Terms of Use, do not access or use the Service.

Instragram

It’s linked from the website’s footer as well:

Instagram Website Footer

The API that Instagram develops also uses the same name for the legal page, titled “API Terms of Use”:

Instagram API Terms

Sample disclosures for Terms of Use

Your Terms of Use agreement should include at least these disclosures to protect your business from abuses. Then additional clauses to cover other situations:

  • The text where you state that if your users don’t agree with the terms you posted online, in the presented agreement, they can not register an account.The enforceability of your agreement is important and it depends if you implement this agreement as a browsewrap or as a clickwrap agreement.
  • A warranty disclaimer: this section discloses that you can not guarantee that the information provided on your website or mobile app is accurate, complete or suitable for any purpose.
  • A termination disclosure in which you will reserve the right to terminate accounts that you may think are abusive towards other users of the community or against your business
  • And so on

Termination disclosure

A Termination clause usually looks like this:

We may terminate your access to the Site, without cause or notice, which may result in the forfeiture and destruction of all information associated with you. All provisions of this Agreement that by their nature should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, indemnity, and limitations of liability.

The Terms of Service page of The Guardian mentions a similar “Termination” clause:

Termination clause in Terms of Service of Guardian

It reads:

If, for any reason, we believe that you have not complied with these terms and conditions, we may, at our sole discretion, cancel your access to the registration areas of Guardian Site immediately and without prior notice.

The Guardian

Intellectual Property disclosure

Another useful clause is the “Intellectual Property” which can explain to users that the content, logo, and design of your website or mobile is your property (your company’s intellectual property).

The Site and its original content, features, and functionality are owned by My Company and are protected by international copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret and other intellectual property or proprietary rights laws.

The Terms of Use page of BBC includes a “Rights in BBC Online Services and BBC Content” disclosure that clearly explains that the content is owned by BBC:

BBC Terms of Use: Who owns or has rights

A Terms of use agreement is useful even if you have a general, presentation-only, website or mobile app as you can limit abuses that some users may do to your business.

Download Terms of Use Template

Use the Terms of Use Generator to create this legal agreement.

If you’re looking for the template, download the Terms of Use Template as a PDF file or download the Terms of Use Template as a DOCX file. It’s free.

This free Generic Terms of Use Template is available to download and it includes the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • Termination
  • Links To Other Websites
  • Governing Law
  • Changes To This Terms of Use
  • Contact Information