Is your WordPress site legal? Do you know if your site is breaking the law, or breaching the Terms of Service (TOS) of any 3rd-party companies whose services or products you are doing business with?
As the cybersphere continues growing at an extraordinary rate and the rules of the game keep changing, it’s important to stay informed about what’s happening and make sure that your site remains compliant, especially if your online presence is an integral factor in your business strategy.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their sites state that if you plan to promote anything on your site for material gain, then you need to follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection departments, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Search online for information about “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 introduction of these new laws affect various online business activities, including:
- Any form of advertising, like text link advertising, Google Adsense, etc.
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creation
If you do not display certain legal pages on your website (e.g. terms of service, privacy statement, earning disclaimers, etc.), many third-party sites such as Google won’t let you advertise, sites like ClickBank or JVZoo won’t allow you to list your digital products for sale, PayPal may close down your account, Facebook will disapprove web applications, and you won’t be allowed into various advertising or online merchant networks.
In addition, you may also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to legal action.
The purpose of this guide is to make you aware that your website(s) are subject to legal requirements according to laws that govern business practices online, the importance of remaining compliant with the terms of service of other providers whose products or services you may be selling online, and that there are solutions that can help your sites become fully compliant, such as the plugins discussed further below.
Is Your Site Compliant?
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice. You must do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way of ensuring that your website fully complies with the law in your country or region.
Why Making Your Website Compliant Is Important
Consider for a minute what would happen to your business in the following scenarios:
- A user suffers a cardiac arrest after purchasing your online fitness workout.
- The skin cream you promote as an affiliate marketer gives someone allergic reactions.
- You’ve let your subscribers know that you will not sell their information, but you have not described exactly what you will do with it.
- Someone copies your content and puts it up on their own site.
- There is no statement on your website making your visitors aware that you are an affiliate for the product you’re marketing and may receive a financial benefit if visitors purchase via your affiliate link.
- You don’t spell out the terms of your refund policies.
- Visitors claim that the testimonials on your site are all fake and decide to sue you.
- You have not disclosed that you have received a free copy of a product in your review.
- Your site publishes adult content and you did not take sufficient measures to keep underaged persons from accessing it.
Consider too the following actual case studies of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling online users they would be required to give up their personal information to complete his offer. In addition to a hefty $390,000 fine, they’ve also been ordered to issue everyone he does business with for the next 20 years, a copy of the judgement — including employees.
- A social networking app developer received a massive $800,000 fine for collecting personal information from mobile device address books without the owners’ knowledge and consent – including storing children’s private details.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service does not allow users to scrape UIDs. Many marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, costing them thousands of $$$ in lost revenue.
- An independent 2010 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites picked at random, more than 90% had infringed at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had infringed at least two of Google’s policies, and more than 40% had broken at least 3 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 cautions or lose access entirely to the Google program they had infringed, 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 through non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA or PPA Marketer
- Network Marketer
- Affiliate Marketer
- AdWords Advertiser
- Product Publisher
- Amazon Associate
- EBay Seller
- Adult Content Publisher
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Online Seller Of Any Product Or Service
it’s important to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your digital presence stays legally compliant.
Complying With Third-Party Companies - ToS, Policies, etc.
Complying with third-party services terms and policies is important.
You are obligated to let your site visitors know that your business complies will all legal requirements and recommended guidelines. This not only improves trust and confidence in your website, it’s also required in many cases by most companies you interact with.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Google requires websites to display legal information if using their products and features. This includes Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Earning revenue online with your websites using Google AdSense ads …
(Google AdSense - policy requirements)
Or promoting your business via Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you sell digital products via merchants like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you will need to add legal pages to your site before your products can be approved for sale in their networks …
(ClickBank – policy requirements)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires you to display clear disclaimers and statements to visitors, especially when using product testimonials or endorsements …
(FTC – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensure That Your Site Is Compliant
FTC regulations governing how business is conducted online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online reveals that many business are unaware (or choose to flaunt) these requirements. As has already been the case, 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 plan to do any kind of business 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.
There are many online business resources that can provide guidelines for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help your site meet FTC requirements. See our additional references and resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(Wording your disclaimers and disclosures correctly is important to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you plan to develop social networking applications that will integrate with your site, sites like Twitter, Facebook, and many others require you to provide information about your legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are not sure whether you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of companies like Google, Facebook, etc., it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting services or products online as an affiliate marketer, or monetizing your pages with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay advertising, or driving visitors to your site 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 have ever wondered if “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 third-party websites require you to comply with their policies)
Common Legal Pages To Add To Your Site
If your website or blog is falling short in aspects of compliance, then you will find this section helpful.
Adding the following compliance pages to your site should keep your business out of trouble with many regulatory agencies and 3rd-party providers, and avoid possible legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “takedown” notices):
- About Us Page
- Contact Us
- Privacy Statement
- Website Disclaimer
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the above, you may want to consider adding any of these legal pages if applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you provide an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Linking Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (if your website provides general financial information)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding the right type of disclosure to your website is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs your readers that you will not receive for writing the article.
- Affiliate Links – Lets readers be aware that you may be compensated if they purchase through affiliate links on your site.
- Review Or Sample Copy – Explains to readers that you have received a sample or review copy of the product or service by the author or product developer.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that lets readers be aware that you have been compensated in some way to write the article.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs users 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.
Adding Legal Pages To Your Site
Ideally, you should have a lawyer prepare the content of your legal documents. Once you have this, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Uploading Legal Pages To Your Site
If someone prepares the legal verbiage for you as standard web pages (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 on your server and uploading your legal pages to this folder via FTP …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder on your server and upload pages using FTP)
You can then easily add links to these legal pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
Make sure that your legal pages are fully up-to-date and clearly accessible to all site visitors. You can add these to your WordPress sidebar (or the footer section of your website) to ensure that users have access to legal information from all pages …
(Display legal pages to users on all of your website’s pages)
If you need help adding links to pages on your sidebar and footer menu, see this tutorial:
You can find attorney-drafted downloadable forms and agreements by searching online, or by visiting sites like the ones listed below:
(Find Legal Forms)
Go here for more info:
Alternatively, you can download a package of website legal templates written by legal attorney Scott Talbert to help businesses protect themselves online …
(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 customized with a simple quick search and replace to add your own business details, then pasted into your pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Forms include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer: multi-discipline professional disclaimers
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new page on your website for each legal form you want added to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload your legal pages to your server as described earlier.
For more details, visit this website:
WordPress Legal Plugins
As well as using copy & paste legal templates, another option is to use plugins.
Here are some great legal plugins for WordPress users that you may be interested in checking out:
(WordPress Plugin – WP Legal Pages)
If you don’t want to bother with creating legal pages manually, then consider installing a plugin like WordPress Legal Pages …
WordPress Legal Pages is not a free plugin, but it’s a low-priced and well-supported premium plugin that will simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site and save you loads of headaches.
Here are just some of the reasons to consider using WordPress Legal Pages plugin:
- Pre-written Templates – The plugin gives you access to over 20 built-in legal page templates created by professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of your basic legal pages in around 3 minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WordPress content editor lets you edit all legal pages like any other WP page.
- Custom Shortcodes – You can add shortcodes to your website or blog pages and the information is then automatically inserted into your pages when published.
- Exclude pages. The plugin lets you exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like every other WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page lock down. Page unlocks when users agree to your terms.
- New Features – New plugin features get added when new versions are released.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a menu item will display inside your navigation menu section …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Menu)
This allows you to create, edit and view your legal pages from the admin area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Settings Area)
With WPLegal Pages, you can easily create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites, affiliate sites, e-commerce sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Page type drop down menu)
Select from a number of built-in legal templates …
(WP 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
To learn more about the benefits of using this useful plugin, go here:
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress websites and blogs with over 20 customizable compliance pages for your web presence …
For more details go here:
(Legal Suite Pro)
Legal Suite Pro 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 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 powered site. You can have legal pages 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 the plugin on all of your sites (even sites that you decide to sell).
To learn more, go here:
If hiring lawyers to create your legal pages is out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some basic form of legal protection on your site until you can afford to hire the services of a lawyer.
We want your website to be protected!
Download the Legal Pages Generator tool below (it’s FREE!), or choose one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-prepared legal templates, or a WordPress legal pages plugin as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
As stated earlier, if you do any kind of business online, it’s important that your website stays compliant with all regulations and any terms of service (TOS) and guidelines of 3rd-party products and services that you may decide to promote or offer online. Your internet presence must comply with numerous regulations, many 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, please note that we are not lawyers and we cannot offer legal advice. Do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way to ensure that your website is compliant with all legal requirements pertaining to your business.
References And Legal Resources
Here is a time-saving list of websites we suggest you visit to better understand what your business requires to stay compliant and meet legal requirements and guidelines:
- Federal Trade Commission 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 – BBB
- 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 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 add essential legal pages to your WordPress site.
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