Is your WordPress website legally compliant? Do you know if you are breaking any laws, rules or regulations, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any third-party companies whose services or products you do business with?
Online laws were designed to protect consumers and apply to anyone who markets, sells or promotes goods and services online. Every website owner risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about legal requirements will not prevent you from being slapped with a legal notice.
New laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their sites state that if you promote anything on your site for material gain, you need to follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection agencies, such as the US-based Better Business Bureau (BBB). Search online for information about “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
These laws affect several business activities, including:
- Any type of advertising, including inline advertising, Google Adsense, etc.
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creation
If your website is not compliant, you could also end up facing a multitude of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
This guide explains why it’s important to have a compliant website and shows you simple and cost-effective ways that will help make your WordPress website or blog legally compliant quickly and easily.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With The Law?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we do not offer legal advice in this article. As previously stated, the purpose of this article is to help make you aware that your website may be subject to certain legal requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations governing business and that compliance may be required with the terms of service of providers whose services or products you use on your website
Why It’s Important To Make Your Website Compliant
Consider what the implications to your business would be if the following situations were to occur:
- Someone has a cardiac arrest after purchasing your online fitness workout.
- The skin cream you sell as an affiliate gives someone who purchases from your link skin rashes.
- You’ve told subscribers that you won’t sell their information, but you haven’t defined what you will do with their personal details.
- Someone copies content from your site and publishes it on their website.
- There is no statement on your website or blog letting your site visitors know that you’re an affiliate for the product you are recommending and may earn a financial benefit if they purchase it.
- You didn’t spell out the terms of your refund policies.
- Someone claims your testimonials are false and tries to sue you.
- You didn’t disclose that you received a free copy in a product review.
- Your website publishes adult-related information and you haven’t taken sufficient measures to restrict access by underage children.
Consider too the real case studies of costly compliance breaches below:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would be required to give up their personal information to complete a debt reduction offer. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer received a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ knowledge and consent – including storing private information about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service does not allow users to scrape UIDs. Many marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of $$$ in lost revenue.
- An independent 2010 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites chosen at random, more than 90% had breached at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had infringed at least two of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were in breach 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 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 be exposed to the risks of litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA (Cost Per Action) Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdSense Publisher
- Info Product Publisher
- Amazon Associate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
it’s important to ensure that your online business remains fully compliant with the law.
Compliance With Third-Party Companies
Big companies and government regulatory agencies emphasize the importance of complying with the terms and policies of service providers.
You must let your visitors know that your business complies with all necessary laws and professional guidelines. This not only improves trust and confidence in your business, it’s also required in most cases by most companies you interact with.
Google requires your site to display legal information if using their services and product features. This includes using features such as Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Monetizing your online properties using Google AdSense display advertising …
(Google AdSense advertising policy requirements)
And even promoting your products or services via Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you plan to sell digital products through companies like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant networks, you are required to add certain legal pages before your products can be approved for selling via their network …
(Policy requirements digital product vendors selling via ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires that you include clear disclaimers and policy statements on your website, especially when concerning the use of product testimonials or endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring That Your Website 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 has already been the case, this typically ends up with the FTC making an example of businesses and prosecuting website owners in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any type of selling online, therefore, it’s best not to take any chances. Even if your business does not operate in the U.S. you should protect your business by ensuring that your site is compliant with all FTC regulations and guidelines.
Various resources online provide guidelines on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your business meet FTC requirements. See our additional references and useful resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(It’s important to structure your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Social Media Applications Also Require Compliance
If you plan to develop applications for your website users, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and many others will require you to provide information about your legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are not sure whether or not you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of service providers like Google, Facebook, etc., then you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting products or services on your site via affiliate marketing, or generating revenue with Google AdSense, eBay or Amazon ads, or driving visitors to your website with Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you need to display on your site to comply with their Terms Of Service and policy requirements - don’t risk having your accounts shut down.
- If you’ve been wondering if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, then it’s best to take proper precautions to avoid becoming a litigation magnet.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, most third-party websites require you to comply with their policies and guidelines)
Basic Legal Pages To Include In Your Site To Ensure Compliance
If your website or blog falls short in areas of compliance, then you will find this section helpful.
At its most basic, adding the following legal pages to your site will keep you out of trouble with most regulatory agencies and third-party service providers, and avoid potential legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “cease and desist” notices):
- About Us Page
- Contact Page
- Privacy Statement
- Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the above pages, you may want to look into implementing one or more of these pages if applicable:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you provide information about affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Links Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (if your website or blog provides financial information)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
- Use Of Media (if you provide users with access to videos or audio files on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
It’s important to add the right types of disclosure pages to your site. For example:
- No Material Connection – This lets users know that you are not being paid for writing the article.
- Affiliate Links – Lets your visitors know that you will be compensated if they purchase through one of your affiliate links.
- Sample/Review Copy – Lets readers be aware that you have been given a review or sample copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Informs visitors that you have been compensated in some form to write the post.
- 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 website publishers to display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Content To Your Site
Ideally, you should have your lawyer prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once you have this completed, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Uploading Legal Pages Manually
If someone prepares and delivers the legal verbiage for you in HTML format, you can simply upload these to your server, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend adding a legals folder to your web server and uploading your legal pages to this directory using FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your server using FTP)
You can then add a link to these pages from your WordPress site using a custom WordPress menu …
Where To Display Legal Web Pages On Your Website
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are fully up-to-date and display clearly to your visitors. You can insert these into the sidebar (or the footer section of your website) so that visitors will be able to access the information from all of your pages …
(It’s important to display links to legal pages to users on all of your website’s pages)
To learn more about adding links to pages on your sidebar, see this step-by-step tutorial:
Using Legal Templates
You can find downloadable attorney-drafted forms and agreements just by searching online, or by going to sites like this one:
Go here for more information:
Alternatively, you can download a package of website legal templates created by attorney Scott Talbert …
(Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages – Website Legal Pages)
Cut & Paste website legal pages were written by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with a simple quick search and replace to add your own details, then pasted into your legal web pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Form Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer (multi-discipline professional disclaimers)
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance (This proprietary FTC page reflects new Federal Trade Commission guidelines brought into effect in 2012)
- 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 for each legal form you want added to your site, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload the pages to your web server as described previously.
WordPress Legal Plugins
In addition to using cut & paste templates, another option for adding legal pages to your website is to use a plugin.
Here are some great plugins for WordPress users worth looking into:
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress)
If you don’t want to spend time creating legal web pages manually, then consider choosing a plugin like WP Legal Pages …
This is not a free plugin, but it’s a reasonably low-priced and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will help simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site and save you time.
Here are just some of the benefits of using WP Legal Pages plugin:
- Pre-written Templates – Over 20 built-in legal page templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of the legal pages you will need in a few minutes with a few clicks of the mouse.
- Easy To Edit Pages – Full WYSIWYG editor lets you edit all legal pages just like every other page on your site.
- Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to any of your website or blog pages and the information will be automatically inserted into your content when published.
- Exclude pages. The plugin lets you exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like any page on your website.
- Forced Options – Force page lockdown. When users agree to the legal terms, the page unlocks, giving them access.
- Additional Features – The plugin is updated with new features when new versions are released.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu feature will display inside your WP dashboard menu …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Legal Pages Menu)
This allows you to view, create and edit legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Settings Screen)
You have the option of creating legal pages for different types of sites, such as business websites, affiliate sites, Amazon sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Page type dropdown menu)
Select from a number of built-in legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Built-In 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 WordPress plugin, go here:
complete website compliance & disclaimer solution …
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin 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. Your legal pages can be installed and set up on your site in less than one minute 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).
For more details, go here:
If using the services of legal experts to create your legal pages is out of your budget, then at least consider implementing some type of basic legal protection on your site until you can afford professional assistance from a solicitor.
We want your business to be protected!
Download the Legal Pages Generator tool below (it’s FREE!), or consider using one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using legal forms, or plugins - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
Legal Pages Generator Software allows you to quickly generate necessary legal documents for your website including ToS, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and Earnings Disclaimer.
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you are making money online (or plan to), you need to make sure that your site remains compliant with all government laws and regulations and the guidelines and terms of service (TOS) provided by 3rd-party products and services that you may decide to promote or use online. Your internet presence must comply with a number of laws and regulatory guidelines, many 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?
Disclaimer: Once again, we are not lawyers and we are not providing legal advice in this article. You are strongly advised to do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert to ensure that your website is compliant with all legal requirements in your country or region.
Below is a time-saving list of additional sites we suggest you visit to help you better understand what your business requires to comply 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
- Better Business Bureau
- 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
In Addition …
- Google 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
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand why it’s important to have a compliant website. Use the information above to quickly add essential legal pages to your WordPress site using inexpensive legal resources and solutions.
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