The following sections answer these and other relevant questions.
Look at how these groups of similar websites name their policies differently:
Introduction and Definitions
Intellectual Property Rights
Be sure to include a list of activities that are prohibited on your site or app. Common examples include:
- Copying content from the site/app
- Hacking or phishing
- Harassing users or employees
- Selling or transferring user accounts
- Uploading spyware
You need to include a disclaimer stating that users access and use the site/app at their own risk. This is crucial to protect your site from liabilities.
Choice of Law
This doesn’t mean that you can choose any law that you find most beneficial to your business. A choice of law clause will be upheld by the courts only if your business has a reasonable legal connection with the state or country you’ve listed in your terms.
Additional clauses or sections may be necessary depending on the type of service you’re offering. Let’s take a look at the four most common types of services: software, mobile applications, discussion forums, and APIs.
Software companies don’t usually sell the software itself to the user, but a license to use that software. Therefore, a key section in a EULA is the licensing information, which explains:
- User limits: how many users does a single license support
- Device limits: how many devices does a single license support
- Activity limits: what the software can and can’t be used for
This is well illustrated in the EULA of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG):
Common examples include setting age restrictions and banning fake user profiles. Take a look at Reddit’s user agreement:
If you host user-generated content (UGC), like Instagram does, you should consider adopting such a licensing policy.
Sites that carry large amounts of content generated by users, such as Craigslist, run the risk of accidentally carrying harmful, fraudulent, or misleading content.
If your website contains UGC, a disclaimer of liability is essential to keep you from getting sued, should the content be misleading.
Another key clause explains how a user can cancel their Netflix subscription.
These clauses are good to adopt if you run a subscription service. Interestingly, Netflix has a clause that precludes class-action lawsuits:
If you have a large user base, including a class-action waiver in your terms is in your best interest.
Annoyed when Google Maps leads you astray? Well, there’s not much you can do about it, as their terms absolve the company of the responsibility of providing accurate information:
Such a clause is ideal for you if your website or app provides a service whose accuracy or quality level is dependent on factors beyond your control or the scope of your technology.
That’s likely because terms are filled with legal jargon, making them uninteresting to most readers.
Amazon’s Zombie Apocalypse Exception
Amazon’s AWS terms has a clause that allows users to disregard its acceptable use policy in the case of a zombie outbreak. Does Jeff Bezos know something we don’t?
Tumblr’s Simplified Terms
In key sections of Tumblr’s terms of service, the dense text has been made simple:
WordWeb’s Licensing Terms
Finally, here’s a rather unusual licensing deal from WordWeb. Do you take more than two flights each year? Well, your rich, polluting self will need to pay up to use this otherwise free software:
These examples show that terms don’t need to be a boring read. While humor isn’t a requirement, your terms should be written in clear English for the benefit of your users.