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What are Terms and Conditions
Terms and Conditions agreements act as a legal contract between you (the company) who has the website or mobile app and the user who access your website and mobile app.
Having a Terms and Conditions agreement is completely optional. No laws require you to have one. Not even the super-strict and wide-reaching General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
It's up to you to set the rules and guidelines that the user must agree to. You can think of your Terms and Conditions agreement as the legal agreement where you maintain your rights to exclude users from your app in the event that they abuse your app, where you maintain your legal rights against potential app abusers, and so on.
Check out our Terms and Conditions FAQ for more helpful insight into these important agreements.
Is a Terms and Conditions required?
A Terms and Conditions is not required and it's not mandatory by law. Unlike Privacy Policies, which are required by laws such as the GDPR, CalOPPA and many others, there's no law or regulation on Terms and Conditions.
However, having a Terms and Conditions gives you the right to terminate the access of abusive users or to terminate the access to users who do not follow your rules and guidelines, as well as other desirable business benefits.
It's extremely important to have this agreement if you operate a SaaS app.
Here are a few examples of how this agreement can help you:
If users abuse your website or mobile app in any way, you can terminate their account. Your "Termination" clause can inform users that their accounts would be terminated if they abuse your service.
If users can post content on your website or mobile app (create content and share it on your platform), you can remove any content they created if it infringes copyright. Your Terms and Conditions will inform users that they can only create and/or share content they own rights to. Similarly, if users can register for an account and choose a username, you can inform users that they are not allowed to choose usernames that may infringe trademarks, i.e. usernames like Google, Facebook, and so on.
If you sell products or services, you could cancel specific orders if a product price is incorrect. Your Terms and Conditions can include a clause to inform users that certain orders, at your sole discretion, can be canceled if the products ordered have incorrect prices due to various errors.
How to enforce Terms and Conditions
While creating and having a Terms and Conditions is important, it's far more important to understand how you can make the Terms and Conditions enforceable.
You should always use clickwrap to get users to agree to your Terms and Conditions. Clickwrap is when you make your users take some action - typically clicking something - to show they're agreeing.
Here's how Engine Yard uses the clickwrap agreement with the I agree check box.
The Intellectual Property disclosure will inform users that the contents, logo and other visual media you created is your property and is protected by copyright laws.
A Termination clause will inform that users' accounts on your website and mobile app or users' access to your website and mobile (if users can't have an account with you) can be terminated in case of abuses or at your sole discretion.
A Governing Law will inform users which laws govern the agreement. This should the country in which your company is headquartered or the country from which you operate your website and mobile app.
A Links To Other Web Sites clause will inform users that you are not responsible for any third party websites that you link to. This kind of clause will generally inform users that they are responsible for reading and agreeing (or disagreeing) with the Terms and Conditions or Privacy Policies of these third parties.
If your website or mobile app allows users to create content and make that content public to other users, a Content section will inform users that they own the rights to the content they have created. The "Content" clause usually mentions that users must give you (the website or mobile app developer) a license so that you can share this content on your website/mobile app and to make it available to other users.
Because the content created by users is public to other users, a DMCA notice clause (or Copyright Infringement ) section is helpful to inform users and copyright authors that, if any content is found to be a copyright infringement, you will respond to any DMCA takedown notices received and you will take down the content.
A Limit What Users Can Do clause can inform users that by agreeing to use your service, they're also agreeing to not do certain things. This can be part of a very long and thorough list in your Terms and Conditions agreements so as to encompass the most amount of negative uses.