Website terms and conditions template: news, wiki or community site; free-to-access model

These terms and conditions have been drawn for a site that fosters an online community. A key differentiator of these terms from others is that there are no provisions for subscription, so although membership may be required for access, it is free. Examples of types of sites that might use it include: collaborative sites such as software development communities; wikis; user maintained directories; online fan clubs; and customer communities (such as those offering product support). The template includes strong protection of intellectual property, whether generated by you or by your subscribers.

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About this terms and conditions template

This terms and conditions template is suitable for sites that provide an online community. Such sites are likely to allow extensive user interaction, such as posting content on forums, writing and commenting on blog posts, rating products, using interactive tools, and writing reviews. Types of sites for which this T&C template would be suitable would include:

  • collaboration sites such as those for software that bring together designers and engineers to develop a product or service;
  • wikis, where content is submitted and moderated by volunteers to create a reference library on a particular topic;
  • user maintained directories and portals to other websites;
  • user generated, free to use directories or listings sites, for example, sites that allow businesses to create profiles and allow users of those businesses to review the services provided;
  • online fan clubs, that provide discussion facilities alongside news;
  • customer communities, such as user augmented customer support services for products.

Your site users could be businesses or private individuals or both.

This template has been written to cover international use because sites that would use such a template are likely to attract visitors from across the world. It has been written to comply with Indian law, but much is likely to be enforceable in many other legal jurisdictions as well.

The benefit of clear terms and conditions

Using this document on your website will help you:

  • set out clearly how your business works, the service you provide and what you expect from site users;
  • present a professional image of your site. Our use of plain language helps ensure visitors do not feel intimidated by overly formal or legalistic language;
  • prevent misunderstandings and make solving disputes easier;
  • protect your website from misuse (we include paragraphs that form an Acceptable Use Policy, useful if your visitors can interact with your website, for example, by posting reviews or exchanging messages in a forum);
  • protect your site from complaints about content that your users posted – particularly important if your users can contribute content to your site that you might not moderate in real time.

Alternative templates

This set of T&C and the others listed below provide protection to sites that are "content rich" (in other words, provide text, images, videos and other media), and which require protection against misuse of that content. The templates differ in the level of interaction of site visitors with the site, and whether visitors pay on the site for access to the content.

Website terms and conditions template: news, review, information or community site; subscription model is suitable if you charge a subscription fee to visitors to access your site. Example sites that would use this template would include online newspapers and magazines, sites that sell information such as reports through subscription, forums and information portals where visitors subscribe for access. The template contains extensive provisions relating to use of content and interaction with the site and other visitors.

Website terms template: moderated directory, blog or review site is suitable for a site where content is primarily produced by the owner or is moderated before publishing, and where visitor interaction is likely to be more limited in scope. If your site doesn't have e-commerce facilities and doesn't aim to create an unfettered online community, then this template is most likely to be suitable. Examples of sites that would use this template include: personal or corporate blogs; directories (for example, of local attractions) where visitor contributed content is likely to be moderated and approved before publishing; or magazine-style review sites where content is published by pre-approved writers.

If you are in any doubt as to which template you should choose, please contact us.

The law in this document

The law in these T&C is largely common law that deals with the basics of contracts: offer, acceptance, liabilities and risk. That means that, by and large, you can set the commercial terms you want. Our guidance notes will tell you what you can change safely.

This document also contains paragraphs that provide intellectual property protection, both governing how your site content is used by your visitors and how information posted to your site by your visitors can be used by you.

Document contents

The terms and conditions template includes provisions that cover:

  • definitions
  • interpretation
  • basis of contract (licence to use the website)
  • grant of licence for your site to use content posted by a visitor
  • acceptable use policy: terms governing user posted content on your site
  • removal of offensive content
  • security of your website
  • storage of data
  • protection of intellectual property belonging to the site owner
  • termination of the agreement
  • other miscellaneous legal provisions to protect you (limitation of liability, warranties, exclusions, indemnities etc)

This document was written by a solicitor for Net Lawman. It complies with current Indian law.

IN-TCins02 - Website terms and conditions template: news, wiki or community site; free-to-access model

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