Sep 29,2019 | 18 min read

Website Policy, Limiting Liability, Copyright & Minors

Author - Advocate Jyoti Ravi Sachdeva and Associate Kantika Mukherjee

Website Policy - Terms and Conditions

The "terms and conditions" section is a basic requirement which every website should have and which usually explains the legal relationship between the website and the person transacting through the website who could be just a User or a Customer. These terms and conditions interalia consists of legal disclaimers; privacy policies; refund policies and many other details. The terms and conditions are listed on the Website, and are mostly required to be accepted by the User/Customer before transacting through the Website. In some cases where the services provided by the Website are free of cost these Terms and Conditions are deemed to be accepted by the User accessing the Website. The content of a Website's terms and conditions particularly is subject to the type of business/services that are being provided by an Entity through its Website and the extent of its data collection, and the nature of business/ services/functions that the Website has, and so on.

Website Terms and Conditions: Limit Your Liability

Any website that allows its users to post the content, or offers space for forum postings or chatting, it is imperative that the Website Terms and Conditions include a clause that would limit the liability of the Entity operating the Website for any infringing, offensive or slanderous postings that are made on the Website. Generally, there are three ways to execute this:

  • Monitor and remove offensive content: If the website comprises a forum or other place for the public to post, the website administrator must on its own regularly monitor and remove any content if it appears to be offensive or slanderous.
  • Remove postings that receive complaints: It happens that the website administrator may receive complaints from some Users concerning the postings of other Users on the website, in that case one must make sure to remove them in accordance with the procedure prescribed in the Information Technology Act and/or the law of the land.
  • Disclaim liability: A website must include a disclaimer that the owner of the website doesn’t necessarily endorse or approve of any statements made by third parties i.e., Users that are posted to the website. However, though this disclaimer shall not completely protect the website from potential liability, it might reduce it and minimize any monetary damages that website administrators could be ordered to pay if the website gets involved in a lawsuit.

Website Terms and Conditions: Copyright

No matter what a website does, whether it is a purely informational blog, or it is a fully functioning online store complete with a forum, website administrator must include notices towards the public that the website is copyrighted as well as trademarked (if applicable). Thus, irrespective of what the website does, the website administrators must always include a notice about copyright and trademark. As an instance, at the end of each webpage, website administrator must include “COPYRIGHTS 2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. XYZ INFORMATICS”

The administrator of the website must specify in the terms and conditions that the entire contents of the Website are protected by copyright and trademark laws.

For example; “The contents of XYZ for example designs, text, graphics, pictures, video, information, logos, button icons, software, and any additional content are secured under copyright, trademark and other laws”.

“Each and every content of the XYZ website is the exclusive property of the XYZ website or its licensors and is secured under copyright, trademark and other laws”.

“Any unauthorized use of the Content of the XYZ website shall be taken as a violation of these laws applicable regulations and statutes, and it is strictly prohibited under law”.

“ Any unauthorized posting, reproduction, copying, distribution, modification, public display or public performance of copyrighted works which includes infringement of the copyright owners' rights must be dealt sternly.”

“ By accepting the terms, you agree and consent that you shall not use XYZ to infringe or violate the intellectual property rights of any person at all. XYZ website has the right to disable or terminate the accounts of any User(s), or block access to XYZ of any users accounts of any time in its sole discretion with or without notice, who violates any copyrights, or other intellectual property rights, of any person, and without any accountability to the User whose account is terminated or access is blocked.”

“ Other XYZ graphics, logos, page headers, button icons, scripts, and service names are trademarks or trade dress of XYZ. XYZ’s trademarks and trade dress may not be used in connection with any product or service that is not XYZ’s as applicable, in any manner that is likely to cause confusion among users, or in any manner that disparages or discredits XYZ.”

Website Terms and Conditions: Minors

Generally, the use of a Website is available only to individuals who could enter into legally valid contracts in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. If the person is a minor that is under the age of 18 years the person may use the Website only with the involvement of a parent or guardian.

If the website is targeted at a young audience, under 18 years old, it is imperative that the website owner has a proper mechanism in place for moderation of content including requiring parental permission and access of website under parental or legal guidance which would help potentially reduce the liability in case of litigation.

For instance; the “XYZ website doesn’t allow any users under the age of 18, to use the website content or services. The users must represent and warrant to XYZ that they are 18 and above and are capable of entering, carrying out and adhering towards these Terms. The users under the age of 18 can use our application or website, only with parental permission and with the involvement and guidance of their parents or legal guardians, under such Parent or Legal guardian's registered account.”

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