Is your WordPress site legal? Do you know if you are breaking the law, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any third-party companies whose services or products you are endorsing or offering?
As the digital era continues growing at such a fast pace and rules keep changing, it’s vitally important to stay on top of what’s going on and ensure that your website or blog remains compliant with all laws and regulations, especially if having a digital presence is important in the success of your overall business strategy.
New laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their websites state that if you plan to promote anything on your site for material gain, you must follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection departments, such as the US-based Better Business Bureau, also known as BBB. Do a search online for “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(Better Business Bureau Website)
The new laws has legal implications for various business activities, including:
- Any kind of advertising, including Google AdWords or AdSense
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creators
If your website does not display certain pages (e.g. terms and conditions of use, privacy statement, financial disclaimers, etc.), many third-party sites such as Google won’t let you advertise, digital marketplaces like ClickBank or JVZoo will not allow you to list digital products, PayPal could close down your account, Facebook will disapprove web applications, and you will not be accepted into a number of advertising or affiliate marketing networks.
You could also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to litigation.
The purpose of this article is to make you aware that your website may be required to comply with legal requirements, the importance of maintaining compliance with the terms of service of other providers whose services or products you may be endorsing on your site, and that there are easy solutions that can help your websites become compliant, such as the tools that we list further below.
Does Your Site Comply With The Law?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we do not offer legal advice in this article. As stated earlier, this article is designed only to make you aware that your website may be subject to certain legal policies in accordance with federal, regional or local laws and regulations that govern business practices online and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of companies whose services or products you recommend on your website or blog
Why It’s Important To Make Your Website Compliant
Consider for one minute what the implications to your business would be in the following scenarios:
- Someone has a heart attack after using your online fitness workout.
- The skin care products you promote as an affiliate marketer gives someone an allergic reaction.
- Your opt-in list provides a statement that lets subscribers know that you won’t sell their information, but you have not clearly spelled out what you’ll do with their details.
- Someone copies your content and publishes it on their website.
- There is no statement on your site making visitors aware that you are an affiliate for the product you are marketing and will derive a financial benefit if visitors purchase it.
- You did not spell out the terms of your refund or return policies.
- Visitors claim the testimonials on your site are fake and try to sue you as a result.
- You didn’t disclose in a product review that you were given a free copy of the product.
- Your site contains adult-related content and you haven’t taken appropriate measures to keep underage persons from accessing it.
Consider too the following actual examples of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would be required to give up their personal information (including credit card info to complete his offer. In addition to a substantial $390,000 fine, he is now required to give everyone they do business with for the next 20 years, a copy of the judgement — including employees.
- A social networking app developer was slapped with a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information from mobile device address books without the owners’ knowledge and consent – including storing private details about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service does not allow users to scrape UIDs. Many internet 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 2010 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites chosen at random, more than 90% were in violation of at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had breached at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were in violation of 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 with warnings 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 you could easily be exposed to the risk of non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA, CPC or PPA Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdWords User
- Product Marketer
- Amazon Affiliate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Adult Content Publisher
- Provider Of Freelance, Consulting Or Coaching Services
- Online Seller Of Any Service Or Product
it’s important to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your website is legally compliant.
Complying With 3rd-Party Companies
Big companies and government regulatory agencies emphasize the need of observing the terms and policies of 3rd-party service providers.
You are expected to let your visitors know that your business complies with all necessary legal requirements and professional guidelines. This not only increases trust and buyer confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of most companies you will engage with online.
Here are just some examples:
Google requires websites to display certain information if using their products. This includes using features such as Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Generating revenue with your WordPress blog with Google AdSense advertising …
(Google AdSense online advertising policy requirements)
And even promoting your services through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell information-based products via companies like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you are required to add legal pages before they will approve your products for selling via their networks …
(ClickBank – policy requirements for vendors)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires you to include clear disclaimers and policies on your website, especially concerning the use of testimonials or product endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations Require Your Site To Comply
New FTC regulations governing how business is conducted online were introduced in March 2012. Search online and you will see that many websites are still unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As has happened in the past, this will most likely prompt 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 plan to do any kind of money-making activity online, therefore, it’s best not to take chances. Even if your business does not operate in the U.S. it’s best to protect your business by ensuring that your site is compliant with all FTC regulations.
A number of business resource sites provide guidelines and examples on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help you comply with FTC requirements. See our additional references and useful resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(You must structure your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you are planning to develop apps that will integrate with your site, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others will require you to provide information about various legal pages …
(Facebook apps also require compliance)
- If you are unsure whether you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of companies like Google, Facebook, etc., then it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote products or services on your site as an affiliate marketer, or making money online with Google AdSense, ads for Amazon or eBay products, or use Google AdWords to drive visitors to your pages, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you are required to include on your site to comply with all Terms Of Service and policy requirements to avoid having your accounts shut down.
- If you’ve ever wondered whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, then it’s best to act now and take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business interests.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, almost all 3rd-party services require you to comply with their policies and guidelines)
What Legal Information Do You Need To Add To Your Site To Be Insured Against Legal Compliance Issues?
If your website or blog is lacking in areas of compliance, then you will find this section helpful.
At its most basic, adding the following compliance pages to your website will help your business stay out of trouble with many consumer protection authorities and third-party providers, and avoid potential legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “cease and desist” notices):
- About Us Page
- Contact Us
- Privacy Statement
- Terms And Conditions
- Website Disclaimers
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the above pages, you may want to look into adding one or more of these legal pages where applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you provide an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Links Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (e.g. if your website provides general information about financial areas or income opportunities)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
Disclosure Pages – Types
Adding the right disclosure information to your website is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs site users that you will not receive compensation for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Discloses to your readers that you will benefit financially if they purchase through an affiliate link.
- Review/Sample Copy – Lets visitors be aware that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product you’re reviewing.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that lets your visitors know that you were compensated in some form to write the article.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs your visitors that you’re using online behavioral tracking technology. This is required to satisfy the “enhanced notice” the Better Business Bureau has been requiring website publishers to show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
Adding Compliance Pages To Your Website
Ideally, you will have a lawyer prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once this has been created, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Uploading Legal Web Pages Manually
If someone prepares the legal content for you in standard web page format (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your web server, or have someone upload them for you.
We recommend creating a legal directory in your web server and uploading your legal pages to this folder via FTP …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder on your server and upload pages via FTP)
You can then add a link to your legal pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
(Custom WordPress Menu Feature)
Displaying Legal Pages On Your Website
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are fully up-to-date and display clearly to all site visitors. You can insert these into the sidebar menu (or place them in the footer of your website) so that visitors have access to the information from every web page …
(It’s important to display legal pages to visitors on all of your site’s pages)
To learn more about displaying links to pages on your sidebar or footer using widgets, see this tutorial:
Using Store-Bought Templates
You can easily find attorney-drafted downloadable forms and agreements just by searching online, or going to websites like the ones listed below:
(Find Legal Forms – Legal forms)
Another option is to purchase a set of cut and paste legal templates written by attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Cut And Paste Website Legal Pages – Website Legal Pages)
These legal pages feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with a quick search and replace to add your own business name and URL, then pasted into your pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Form Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance (This proprietary FTC page reflects new Federal Trade Commission guidelines brought into effect on March 2012)
- Terms of Service & 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 WordPress page for every legal form you want added to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload the pages to your server as described previously.
For more details, go here:
Legal Pages – Plugins
In addition to using legal templates, you can keep things very simple by using a plugin.
Here are some legal WordPress plugins you should check out:
(WP Legal Pages)
If the idea of manually setting up legal pages for your website feels too time-consuming for you, then consider choosing WP Legal Pages …
The WP Legal Pages plugin is not free, but it’s a low-priced and well-supported plugin that will simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site and save you a great deal of time and effort.
Here are just some of the reasons to consider using WordPress Legal Pages:
- Pre-written Templates – Over 20 built-in legal page templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of the legal pages you need in around 3 minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WordPress content editor lets you edit legal pages like every other WordPress page.
- Shortcodes – You can add shortcodes to your WordPress pages and the information will then be automatically inserted into your content when you publish.
- Exclude pages. The plugin lets you exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like every other WP page.
- Forced Options – Force page lock down. Page unlocks and can be accessed only when user agrees to your legal terms.
- New Features – More features are being added to this plugin with every new version.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu feature is added to your navigation menu section …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Legal Pages Menu)
This lets you create, edit and view your legal pages from the admin area …
(WP Legal Pages – Settings Screen)
With WP Legal Pages, you can easily create legal pages for different types of sites, such as business websites with products, affiliate/review sites, AdSense sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Create different legal pages)
Select from several built-in legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Built-In 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
Go here to learn more this great plugin:
Compliance Bar is a simple WordPress plugin that contains over twenty customizable legal page templates for your website …
For more details go here:
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin)
Legal Suite Pro lets you easily install professionally-written legal pages such as:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance
- Social Media Disclosure
- Medical Disclaimer
- Terms & Conditions
- Earnings Disclaimer
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin For WordPress – 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 less than one minute and the license allows you to install and use this plugin on all of your sites.
If hiring legal experts to create your legal documentation is currently out of your budget, consider implementing at least some type of basic legal protection on your website until you can afford professional legal services.
We want your site to be legally safe!
Download the Legal Pages Generator tool below (it’s FREE!), or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using ready-made legal templates, or plugins - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
As stated earlier, if you do business online, you need to make sure that your website is compliant with regulatory agencies and the terms of service (TOS) and guidelines of 3rd-party products and services that you may be promoting or selling online. Your website must comply with numerous laws and regulatory guidelines, some of which you may not be aware of.
Non-compliance 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?
Disclaimer: Once again, we are not lawyers and we are not providing legal advice. We strongly advise you to do your own due diligence and consult legal experts to ensure that your website fully complies with the law concerning your specific business.
Here is a useful list of additional sites we recommend you visit to better understand what your website may require to stay compliant and meet its legal obligations:
- 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
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- US Copyright Office
In Addition …
- Analytics Help – Policy requirements for Google Analytics Advertising Features
- Google AdSense Program Policies Explained
- Google 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 and easily add legal pages to your website using inexpensive legal resources and plugins.
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