Is your WordPress website legal? Do you know if your site is breaking any laws, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any companies whose products or services you are doing business with?
Internet laws and regulations are designed to protect consumers and apply to any person who markets, sells or promotes goods and services online. Anyone who owns a website risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about legal requirements will not excuse someone from taking legal action against you.
New laws introduced in 2014 that regulate how businesses promote advertising on their sites state that if you plan to promote anything on your site for profit, you need to follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory departments, such as the US-based Better Business Bureau, also known as BBB. Search online “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet for more details.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program – BBB)
The new laws affect various business activities, including:
- Any form of advertising, e.g. pay-per-click advertising
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
Plus, you could also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to legal action.
The purpose of this guide is to make you aware that your site(s) may be subject to certain legal requirements according to laws that govern businesses online, the importance of complying with the terms of service of 3rd-party providers whose services or products you may be offering on your site, and that there are easy solutions that can help your sites become fully compliant, such as the tools discussed further below.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With All Legal Requirements?
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we are not providing legal advice in this article. As stated above, the aim of this article is only to make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations governing your business and that compliance may be required with the terms of service of providers whose services or products you endorse on your website or blog
Understanding The Importance Of Making Your Website Compliant
Consider for a moment what the implications to your business would be if any of these situations were to happen:
- Someone suffers a cardiac arrest after using your online fitness workout.
- The skin care creams you promote as an affiliate marketer gives a number of users allergic reactions.
- You’ve let your subscribers know that you will not sell their information, but you have not described exactly what you’ll do with the information you’ve collected.
- Someone steals your content and publishes it on their own site.
- There is no statement on your site letting your site visitors know that you are an affiliate for the product you’re endorsing that you could receive a financial benefit if visitors decide to purchase using your link.
- You have not spelled out the terms of your refund and return policies.
- Someone claims your testimonials are fake and tries to sue you because of it.
- You didn’t disclose in a product review that you were given a free copy of the product.
- Your site includes adult information and you did not take sufficient measures to keep underage children from accessing it.
Consider now these real case studies of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling online users they would be required to give up personal information to complete a debt reduction offer. In addition to a hefty $390,000 fine, they’re now required to give a copy of the judgement to everyone he does business with for the next 20 years — including employees.
- A social networking app developer was slapped with a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ knowledge and consent – including storing children’s private information.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits using software that scrapes UIDs. Many marketers gambled that they could get away with it and lost. Their accounts were shut down, costing them thousands of $$$ 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 breaking at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were in violation of at least two 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 with warnings or lose access entirely to the Google program they had violated, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to risk becoming exposed to litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA (Cost Per Action) or PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Marketer
- AdSense Publisher
- Niche Publisher
- Amazon Affiliate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Adult Content Publisher
- Provider Of Freelance, Consulting Or Coaching Services
- Seller Of Any Service Or Product Online
It’s imperative to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your website or blog remains legally compliant.
Compliance With 3rd-Party Services Terms And Policies
Compliance with 3rd-party companies terms and policies is important.
You are obligated to let your site visitors know that your website complies with all necessary laws and professional guidelines. This not only improves consumer trust and confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of most companies you engage with.
Google requires your site to display certain information if using many of their products. This includes Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Making money online with your blogs using Google AdSense …
(Google AdSense ads policy requirements)
And even promoting your services or products through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you plan to sell products online with companies such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant sites, you will be required to add a number of legal pages to your website before they will approve your products for sale in their networks …
(Policy requirements digital product vendors selling through ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires you to include clear disclaimers and disclosures on your site, especially when using product testimonials or endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring 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 websites are unaware (or choose to flaunt) these requirements. As documented on their website, this often prompts the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute website owners in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any kind of selling 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 complies with FTC regulations.
Various online business resources provide guidelines on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your site comply with FTC requirements. See the references and useful resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(Word your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Applications
If you are planning to develop apps for your site, you will also be required to provide sites like Twitter, Facebook, and many others with access to various legal pages …
(Facebook apps also require compliance)
- If you are unsure whether or not you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of organizations like Google, Facebook, etc., then it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote services or products online via affiliate marketing, or make money online with Google AdSense, eBay or Amazon ads, or driving visitors to your website using Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you need to display on your site to comply with all Terms Of Service and policy requirements to avoid having your accounts suspended.
- If you’ve been wondering if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, then it’s best to act now and take proper precautions to protect yourself and your website.
Basic Legal Pages You Should Include In Your Site To Ensure Compliance
If your web site falls short in areas of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following legal pages to your website will help your website stay out of trouble with most regulatory authorities and 3rd-party providers, and avoid potential legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Page
- Terms & Conditions
- Website Disclaimer
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
Additionally, you may want to look into adding one or more of these pages where applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you provide an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Linking Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (e.g. if your website provides money-making information)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Use Of Media (if you allow users to download videos or audio files on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
It’s important to add the correct types of disclosure pages to your website. For example:
- No Material Connection – Lets visitors be aware that you will not receive for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Discloses to your readers that you will be compensated if they act on your recommendation and purchase through your affiliate links.
- Sample Or review Copy – Discloses to your readers that you have received a sample or review copy of the product.
- Sponsored Post – Discloses to site users that you have been compensated in some way to write the content.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs users that you’re using online behavioral tracking technology. This is required to satisfy the “enhanced notice” the Better Business Bureau has been requiring online publishers to display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Pages To Your Website
Ideally, you should consult your lawyer and ask them to prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once this has been created, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Uploading Legal Web Pages Manually
If someone prepares and delivers the legal verbiage for you in typical web page formatting (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your site, or have someone upload them for you.
We recommend adding a legals directory to your server and uploading your legal pages to this folder using FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your web server using FTP)
You can then add links to your pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
Displaying Legal Web Pages On Your Site
Make sure that your legal pages are fully up-to-date and clearly accessible to your visitors. You can insert links to your legal pages into the sidebar (or place them in the footer of your website) so that visitors will be able to access the information from every web page …
(Display links to your legal pages to visitors on all of your site’s pages)
For a detailed step-by-step tutorial about displaying links to pages on your sidebar, refer to this step-by-step tutorial:
Ready-Made Legal Templates
You can easily find downloadable attorney-drafted website forms and agreements just by searching online, or by visiting websites like the ones listed below:
(Find Legal Forms)
Another option is to download a set of cut and paste website legal templates written by legal attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages)
These legal templates were created by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with a simple quick search and replace to insert your own details, then pasted into your legal pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Form Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new WordPress page for each legal form you want added to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload these to your web server as described previously.
Go here for more details:
WordPress Legal Plugins
In addition to using templates, you can simplify things using WordPress plugins.
Here are some plugins for WordPress users that you should check out:
(WordPress Plugin – WP Legal Pages)
If the idea of creating legal pages manually seems too time-consuming for you, then consider choosing WP Legal Pages instead …
The WP Legal Pages plugin is not free, but it’s a reasonably affordable and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will help simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your website and save you a great deal of time and effort.
Some of the benefits of using WordPress Legal Pages are:
- Built-in Templates – The plugin gives you access to over 20 built-in legal templates created by professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of your basic legal pages in around 3 minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Editable Pages – Full WYSIWYG editor lets you edit legal pages just like any page on your site.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – Add shortcodes to any of your pages and the information is then automatically inserted into your content when published.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple check box and delete and manage these like any other WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page lock down. When the user agrees to the legal terms, the page unlocks.
- Additional Features – More features are being added to this plugin with each new version.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu item is added to your main navigation menu …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Legal Pages Menu)
This allows you to view, create and edit your legal pages from the admin area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings Screen)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different types of sites, such as business websites with products, review websites, e-commerce sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Create different legal pages)
Choose from several built-in legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages – 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
Go here to learn more about this powerful plugin:
The Compliance Bar WordPress Plugin is a complete compliance and disclaimer solution for your online business …
For more details go here:
(Legal Suite Pro For WordPress)
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 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 secured rights to high quality, professionally written legal disclaimers and packaged them into a plugin that can be installed quickly on any WordPress site. You can have legal pages 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 websites (even sites that you decide to sell).
For more information, go here:
If using the services of a lawyer to create your online legal documentation is out of your budget, consider implementing some basic kind of legal protection on your website until you can afford to hire the services of a legal firm.
We want your business to be legally protected!
Download the Legal Pages Generator tool below (for FREE!), or choose one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using legal page templates, or a legal pages plugin as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you make money online (or plan to), it’s important that your site stays compliant with regulatory agencies and the guidelines and terms of service provided by third-party services and products that you may decide to promote or offer online. Your digital presence must comply with various laws and regulatory guidelines, many of which you may not even 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?
Disclaimer: Once again, we are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice on this website. We strongly advise you to do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert to ensure that your website fully complies with the law in your country or region.
Here is a time-saving list of sites we suggest you visit to help you better understand what your website may require to stay compliant and meet its legal obligations:
- FTC Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- FTC Advertising & Marketing Rules Of the Road
- FTC Advertising And Marketing On The Internet
- 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
- United States 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 you have found this article useful and that it has helped you understand the importance of having a legally compliant website. Use the information provided above to quickly and easily add legal pages to your website or blog.
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