Is your website legal? Do you know if your site is breaking any laws, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any 3rd-party companies whose products or services you are promoting or selling?
Internet laws were designed to protect the rights of consumers and apply to anyone who markets, sells or promotes products or services online. Every website owner risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about legal requirements won’t prevent you from being slapped with a legal notice.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 that regulate how businesses promote advertising on their sites state that if you plan to promote anything on your website for profit, you must follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection agencies, such as the BBB, or Better Business Bureau. Look up “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet for more details.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program – Better Business Bureau)
The new laws affect several online business activities, including:
- Any form of advertising, including Google AdWords or AdSense
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
You could also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to expensive litigation.
This article explains the importance of having a legally compliant website and how to quickly add all necessary legal pages to your WordPress website.
Is Your Website Or Blog Legally Compliant?
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we are not providing legal advice on this website. As previously stated, this article is designed only to help make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal requirements in accordance with the laws that govern business online and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of 3rd-party companies whose products or services you advertise
Why It’s Important To Make Your Website Compliant
Consider for a moment what would happen to your business in the following scenarios:
- A person has a cardiac arrest after using your online workout program.
- The skin care products you sell as an affiliate gives people skin rashes.
- You’ve told subscribers that you won’t sell their information, but you have not described exactly what you plan to do with their details.
- Someone steals your content and publishes it on their site.
- There is no statement on your website or blog making your visitors aware that you are marketing a product as an affiliate and could derive an affiliate commission if visitors buy it.
- You don’t spell out the conditions of your refund/return policies.
- Visitors claim that the testimonials on your site are false and try to sue you.
- You didn’t disclose that you have received a free copy in a product review.
- Your site contains adult-related content and you did not take appropriate measures to keep underage children from accessing it.
Consider also these actual case studies of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would have to give up their personal information (including credit card info to complete his offer. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer copped a massive $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ knowledge and consent – including storing private details about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits users from scraping UIDs. Many marketers gambled that they could get away with it and lost. Their accounts were shut down, costing them thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-chosen websites, more than 90% had breached at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had broken at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% had broken at least three of Google’s policies. Although the website owners could technically be sued by Google, more than likely what could happen, is that they would be issued notices or lose access entirely to the Google program with the infringement, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to risk becoming exposed to non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Promoter
- AdSense Publisher
- Niche Publisher
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Online Seller Of Any Product Or Service
it’s important to ensure that your website remains fully compliant with the law.
Complying With Third-Party Services
All the leading online companies and government agencies that regulate trade emphasize the need and importance of observing the terms and policies of third-party service providers.
You must let your visitors know that your business complies will all legal requirements and professional guidelines. This not only improves trust and confidence in your site, it’s also required in many cases by most companies you will do business with.
Google requires you to display legal information when using their services. This includes Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Generating revenue with your website using Google AdSense online advertising …
(Google AdSense online advertising policy requirements)
Or promoting your services via Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell information products through places such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant networks, you are required to add various legal pages before they will approve your products for selling via their marketplace …
(Policy requirements for selling digital products through ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also requires that you include clear disclaimers and disclosures to visitors, especially if you plan to sell or promote products online with the aid of product testimonials or endorsements …
(FTC – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensure That Your Site Is Compliant
New FTC regulations governing how business is conducted online were introduced in March 2012. Search online and you will see that many business are unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As documented on their website, this typically prompts the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute companies for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you do any type of money-making activity online, therefore, it’s best not to take any chances. Even if your business does not operate in the U.S. we strongly recommend protecting your business interests by ensuring that your website is compliant with FTC guidelines.
Various business resources provide guidelines and examples on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your site comply with FTC requirements. We provide a number of references and links to resources at the end of this article …
(It’s important to word your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you plan to develop apps that will integrate with your site, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and many others require you to provide access to your legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are unsure as to whether you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of organizations like Google, Facebook, etc., then assume that you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting products or services on your site using affiliate marketing, or generating revenue online with Google AdSense, ads for Amazon or eBay products, or driving visitors to your website using Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you need to include on your site to comply with their Terms Of Service and policy requirements to avoid having your accounts terminated.
- If you’ve ever wondered whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business interests.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, most 3rd-party websites require you to comply with their policies)
What Compliance Information Pages Does My Website Need To Be Legally Compliant?
If you suspect that your website is falling short in areas of compliance, then you will find this section helpful.
Adding the following legal pages to your site should help your site keep out of trouble with many regulatory authorities and third-party providers, and even help you avoid potential legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Page
- Privacy Statement
- Website Disclaimers
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the above, you may want to consider including any of the following pages where applicable:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you promote or sell affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Links Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (e.g. if your website provides general money-making information)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Media Terms (e.g. if you allow media downloads on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
It’s important to add correct disclosures to your website. For example:
- No Material Connection – This lets your visitors know that you’re not being paid for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Discloses to site users that you may benefit financially if they act on your recommendation and purchase through your affiliate link.
- Review Or Sample Copy – Explains to users that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that lets visitors know that you were compensated in some form to write the post.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs visitors that you’re using online behavioral tracking technology. This is required to comply with the “enhanced notice” the Better Business Bureau has been requiring online publishers to show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Pages To Your Site
Ideally, you should consult your lawyer or a legal firm and ask them to prepare the content of your legal documents. Once these have been created, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Upload Legal Pages To Your Website
If someone prepares the legal verbiage for you in standard web page format (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your site, or have someone upload them for you.
We recommend creating a legal directory in your server and uploading your legal pages to this folder using FTP …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder on your server and upload pages using FTP)
You can then easily add links to your legal pages in WordPress using custom links in your menu administration …
Make sure that your legal pages are kept up-to-date and clearly visible to visitors. You can insert these into the WordPress sidebar (or place them in the footer section of your site) to ensure that visitors will be able to access the information from every page …
(Display links to your legal information to users on all of your website’s pages)
We have created a detailed tutorial about adding links to pages on your sidebar menu using widgets here:
You can easily find downloadable attorney-drafted disclosures and internet forms and agreements just by searching online, or going to sites like this one:
Find Legal Forms
(FindLegalForms.com – Attorney-drafted legal forms)
Go here for more details:
Another option is to download a set of website legal templates drafted by attorney Scott Talbert …
Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages
(Cut And Paste Website Legal Pages – Legal Templates)
Cut & Paste website legal templates feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with search and replace to insert your own business name and URL, then pasted into your pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer: multi-discipline professional disclaimers
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance (This proprietary FTC page reflects Federal Trade Commission regulations that came into effect in 2012)
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use: with inter- & intra-page redundancy, Contra Proferentem provision, reservation of rights, and exclusive social media admonition.
You can either create a new page on your website for every legal form you want to add to your site, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload the pages to your server as previously described.
Go here for more information:
Legal Pages – WordPress Plugins
As well as using templates, another option for adding legal pages to your website is to use a plugin.
Here are some great legal WordPress plugins you should check out:
WP Legal Pages Plugin
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin)
If you don’t want to spend time creating legal web pages manually, then consider installing a plugin like WordPress Legal Pages instead …
WordPress Legal Pages is not a free plugin, but it’s a low-priced and well-supported plugin that will help simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site and save you time.
Some of the benefits of using the WP Legal Pages are:
- Pre-written Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal page templates created by professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of your basic legal pages in a few minutes with just a few mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WordPress content editor lets you edit legal pages just like any page on your website.
- Custom Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to any of your WordPress pages and the information is then automatically inserted into your pages when published.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like any WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page lockdown. Page unlocks only when users agree to your terms.
- New Features – The plugin is updated with new features when new versions are released.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu feature will be added to your navigation menu …
(WP Legal Pages – Menu)
This allows you to view, create and edit legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Settings)
With WPLegal Pages, you can easily create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites with products, affiliate/review sites, e-commerce sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Page type menu)
You can also select from a number of built-in legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Pre-configured Legal Templates)
Legal page templates include:
- Linking Policy
- External Links Policy
- Terms and Conditions
- Refund Policy
- Affiliate Disclosure
- Affiliate Agreement
- Earnings Disclaimer
- Antispam Policy
- DoubleClick DART Cookies Policy
- Disclaimer Template
- FTC Disclosure Statement Template
- Medical Disclaimer Template
- Testimonials Disclosure – As per FTC guidelines
- Amazon Affiliate Disclosure Template
- DMCA Policy Template
- California Privacy Rights Policy Template
- Digital Goods Refund Policy Template
- Blog Comments Policy Template
- Newsletter Subscription Policy and Disclaimer Template
- FTC Disclaimer Widget
Visit this website to learn more about this great plugin:
Compliance Bar Plugin – Website Compliance Plugin For WordPress
Compliance Bar is a simple WordPress plugin that contains over 20 customizable compliance templates for your digital presence …
Learn more here:
Legal Suite Pro Plugin
(Legal Suite Pro)
This plugin lets you easily install professionally-written legal pages such as:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance
- Social Media Disclosure
- Medical Disclaimer
- Earnings Disclaimer
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin – Professionally-written legal forms)
- Drag & Drop FTC Disclaimer Widget: Add an FTC Disclaimer to any WordPress sidebar or widget area.
With just one-click you can install almost all of the legal pages your site needs and these professionally written legal pages can be created in your theme and/or as a standalone page outside of your theme.
The plugin developers have packaged high quality, professionally written legal disclaimers into a plugin that can be installed quickly on any WordPress site. Your legal pages can be installed and set up on your site in one minute or less and the plugin licensing is very flexible, allowing you to install and use this plugin on all of your websites (even sites that you decide to sell or flip).
For more details, go here:
If using the services of a lawyer to create your legal documentation is currently out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some basic kind of legal protection on your website until you can afford to hire a legal expert.
We want your website to be safe!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator software below, or consider choosing one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-prepared legal documentation, or plugins as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you engage in any form of business online (or are planning to), it’s important that your site is found to comply with legal requirements of government agencies that regulate business practices online and the terms of service (TOS) and guidelines of third-party services and products that you may be promoting or endorsing online. Your website must comply with a whole set of regulations, some of which you may not be aware of.
Being non-compliant puts you at risk of suffering both financial losses and the loss of your reputation. Why risk your money and reputation, when you can protect yourself so inexpensively?
Legal Disclaimer: Once again, we are not lawyers and we cannot offer legal advice. We strongly advise you to do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way of ensuring that your website is compliant with all legal requirements pertaining to your business.
Below is a useful list of sites we suggest you visit to better understand what your website may require to remain compliant and meet its legal requirements and guidelines:
- FTC Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- Federal Trade Commission Advertising & Marketing Rules Of the Road
- FTC Advertising And Marketing On The Internet
- BBB – Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program
- Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising
- Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act
- CAN-SPAM Act Guide
- Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule
- FTC Regulatory Review Web Page
- FTC Rules and Guides Currently Under Review
- The Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force – Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework
- FTC Staff Report: Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising
- FTC Final Guides Governing Endorsements and Testimonials
- US Patent and Trademark Office
- US Copyright Office
- Analytics Help – Policy requirements for Google Analytics Advertising Features
- Google AdSense Program Policies Explained
- AdSense Help – Required Content
- Google AdWords – Information Collection And Use
- ClickBank – Creating Your First Product
- Facebook Platform Policies
We hope this article has helped you understand why it’s important to have a legally compliant website. Use the information presented above to quickly add legal pages to your WordPress site.
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