One of the worst situations you can find yourself in as a website owner is to break the law.
Internet laws and regulations were designed to protect consumers and apply to any person who markets, sells or promotes products and services online. Anyone who owns a website risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about the law 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 clearly state that if you plan to promote anything on your site for commercial gain, you must follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory agencies, such as the US-based BBB, or Better Business Bureau. 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)
The new laws has implications for various business activities, including:
- Any type of advertising, e.g. contextual ads
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creation
If your business online is not compliant, you could also face a number of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
The purpose of this article is to help make you aware that your website or blog may be subject to legal requirements according to laws that govern businesses online, the importance of being compliant with the terms of service of external providers whose services or products you may be endorsing online, and that there are plugins for WordPress users that can help your website become fully compliant, such as the plugins discussed further below.
Is Your Website Or Blog Legally Compliant?
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we are not offering legal advice about your website or business. You must do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way to ensure that your website is compliant with all laws wherever you do business.
Why Having A Compliant Website Is Important
Consider what the implications to your business would be in the following scenarios:
- A customer has a heart attack after they use your online workout program.
- The skin care products you sell as an affiliate gives someone who purchases from your link allergic reactions.
- You’ve let your subscribers know that you will not sell their information, but you haven’t spelled out exactly what you plan to do with the information you have collected.
- Someone copies your content and publishes it on their website.
- There is no statement on your site making your site visitors aware that you are marketing a product as an affiliate that you will get paid a sales commission if they purchase it via your link.
- You have not spelled out the terms and conditions of your return policies.
- Your visitors claim the testimonials on your site are all fake and decide to sue you as a result.
- You have not disclosed that you were given a free copy of a product in your review.
- Your website publishes adult-related content and you didn’t take sufficient measures to restrict access by underage children.
Consider too the real case studies of costly compliance breaches described:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling online users they would be required to give up their personal information (including credit card details to complete a debt reduction offer. In addition to a substantial $390,000 fine, they’ve also been ordered to provide a copy of the judgement to everyone he does business with for the next 20 years — including employees.
- A social networking app developer received a whopping $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 Users IDs. Many internet marketers took a risk 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% were breaking at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were in violation of 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 cautions or lose access to the Google program whose policies they had infringed, 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 litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Promoter
- AdSense Publisher
- Niche Marketer
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Adult Content Publisher
- Provider Of Freelance, Consulting Or Coaching Services
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
It’s vitally important to ensure that your website or blog stays fully compliant with the law.
Compliance With Third-Party Services - ToS, Policies, etc.
Complying with third-party services terms and policies is important.
You must let your site users know that your website complies will all legal requirements and professional guidelines. This not only increases consumer trust and confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of most companies you engage with online.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Google requires your site to display certain information if using their products or features. This includes using Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Making money online with your WordPress blog with Google AdSense …
(Google AdSense advertising policy requirements)
Or promoting your site using Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you plan to sell products online with places such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant sites, you will be required to add legal pages to your site before your products can be approved for sale in their network …
(Policy requirements for selling products through ClickBank)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires that you display clear disclaimers and policies to visitors, especially if you plan to sell or promote online using product testimonials or endorsements …
(FTC – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring That Your Website Is Compliant
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 typically results in the FTC making an example of businesses and prosecuting companies for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you do any kind of business online, therefore, it’s best not to take chances. Even if your business is not physically located in the U.S. we strongly recommend protecting your business by making sure that your site complies with FTC regulations.
You can find many online resources that can provide guidelines on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your business comply with FTC requirements. We provide additional references and links to useful resources to a number of these at the end of this article …
(Structuring your disclaimers and disclosures correctly is important to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you are planning to create apps for your website users, you will also be required to provide social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and many others with information about various legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are unsure as to whether or not you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of organizations like Google, Facebook, etc., it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote anything on your site as an affiliate marketer, or making money online with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay advertising, or using Google AdWords to drive visitors to your pages, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you are required to display on your site to comply with all Terms Of Service and policy requirements to avoid having your accounts terminated.
- 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 avoid becoming a magnet for litigation.
What Legal Information Do I Need To Add To My Website To Be Covered Against Legal Compliance Issues?
If your website or blog falls short in terms of compliance, then this section will help you.
Adding the following compliance pages to your website should help keep you out of trouble with most regulatory agencies and external providers, and even help to avoid possible legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Privacy Statement
- Terms And Conditions
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the above, you may want to look into adding one or more of these legal pages:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you promote or sell affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Linking Policy
- Health Disclaimers (e.g. if your website or blog provides general content about health or medical areas)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Use Of Media (if you provide users with access to media on your site)
Disclosure Pages – Types
It’s important to add the right disclosure information to your site. For example:
- No Material Connection – Discloses to site users that you will not receive compensation for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Lets readers know that you will benefit financially if they act on your recommendation and buy through one of your affiliate links.
- Review/Sample Copy – Explains to your visitors that you have been given a review or sample copy of the product.
- Sponsored Post – Lets site users know that you have been compensated in some form to write the content.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets readers know 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 show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Content To Your Site
Ideally, you should consult lawyers or a legal firm and ask them to prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once this has been done, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Upload Legal Web Pages To Your Website
If someone prepares and delivers the legal verbiage for you as standard web pages (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 HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this folder using FTP …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder in your web server and upload pages using FTP)
You can then add links to your pages from your WordPress site using custom links in your menu administration …
Where To Display Legal Web Pages On Your Site
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 menu (or place them in the footer section of your site) to ensure that users can access the information from every page …
(It’s important to display links to your legal pages to visitors on all of your website’s pages)
For a detailed step-by-step tutorial on displaying links to pages on your sidebar or footer in WordPress using widgets, see this tutorial:
Store-Bought Legal Templates
You can find attorney-drafted downloadable forms and agreements by searching online, or visiting sites like this one:
(FindLegalForms.com – Attorney-prepared legal forms)
Go here for more information:
Another option is to purchase a package of cut & paste website legal templates created by attorney Scott Talbert …
(Cut And Paste Website Legal Pages – Website Legal Pages)
Cut & Paste website legal templates 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 insert your own business details, then pasted into your pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer (multi-discipline professional disclaimers)
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use: includes inter- & intra-page redundancy, Contra Proferentem provision, reservation of rights, and exclusive social media admonition.
You can either create a new 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 these to your web server as previously described.
Legal Pages – Plugins
In addition to using templates, you can keep things very simple using WordPress plugins.
Here are some great plugins for WordPress users you should check out:
(WordPress Plugin – WordPress Legal Pages)
If you don’t want to spend time creating legal web pages manually, then consider choosing a plugin like WP Legal Pages instead …
WordPress Legal Pages is not a free plugin, but it’s a reasonably affordable and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will help make the work of creating and implementing legal pages on your site a lot easier and save you a great deal of time.
Some of the benefits of using WP Legal Pages are:
- Built-in Legal Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Very Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of the basic legal pages you need in a few minutes with a few clicks of the mouse.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WordPress content editor lets you edit all legal pages just like any other page on your site.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – You can add shortcodes to your pages and the information is then 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 WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lock down. Page unlocks only when the user agrees to your legal terms.
- New Features – More features get added to this plugin with each new version.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu feature will display inside your navigation area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Menu)
This lets you create, view and edit legal pages from your admin area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites with products, review websites, e-commerce sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Type of Site menu)
You can also choose from various pre-configured legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – 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:
total website compliance and disclaimer solution …
For more details go here:
(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
- Terms of Service
- 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 plugin licensing is very flexible, allowing you to install and use this plugin on all of your sites.
Visit this site for more information:
If using the services of a lawyer to create your legal pages is currently out of your budget, consider implementing at least some basic type of legal protection on your site until you can afford professional assistance from a legal firm.
We want your business to be legally safe!
Download the Legal Pages Generator tool below (for FREE!), or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using legal documents, or plugins - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
Legal Pages Generator Software allows you to easily generate essential legal documents for your website including Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and optional Earnings Disclaimer.
As stated earlier, if you engage in any form of business online (or plan to), it’s important that your website complies with regulatory agencies and any guidelines and terms of service provided by 3rd-party products and services that you may be promoting or using online. If your website doesn’t comply with laws designed to protect consumer rights, you’re breaking the law.
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?
Legal Disclaimer: Once again, we are not lawyers and we do not offer legal advice on our website. You must 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 sites we suggest you visit to help you better understand what your site may require to remain compliant and meet its legal requirements and guidelines:
- 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
- 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
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand why it’s important to have a compliant website. Use the information presented above to quickly add all necessary legal pages to your website or blog.
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