Is your WordPress website legal? Do you know if your site is 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 and regulations are designed to protect consumers and apply to any person 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 won’t prevent someone from taking legal action against your business.
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 profit, then you must follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory 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 to learn more.
(Better Business Bureau Website)
The new laws has legal implications for various online business categories, including:
- Any type of advertising, like Google AdWords
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
If your website does not display certain legal pages (e.g. terms and conditions of use, privacy statement, financial disclaimers, etc.), many sites such as Google won’t let you advertise, digital marketplaces like ClickBank won’t allow you to list digital products, PayPal could suspend your account, Facebook will suspend your web applications, and you will not be accepted into various advertising or affiliate merchant networks.
Additionally, you may also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to expensive litigation.
This article explains why it’s important to have a legally compliant website and how to quickly and easily add legal pages to your website or blog using simple and inexpensive resources and solutions.
Is Your Site Breaking The Law?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we cannot provide legal advice. As stated above, the purpose of this article is to help make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal requirements in accordance with federal, regional or local laws and regulations governing your business and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of third-party providers whose services or products you offer
Why Ensuring That Your Website Is Compliant Is Important
Is your business at risk? Consider for a minute what could happen to your business if any of the following incidents were to happen:
- Someone has a cardiac arrest after they use your online workout program.
- The skin care creams you sell as an affiliate gives someone an adverse reaction.
- You’ve let your subscribers know that you won’t sell their information, but you haven’t informed them exactly what you’ll do with their personal details.
- Someone copies your content and publishes it on their website.
- There is no statement on your website or blog letting your site visitors know that you are an affiliate for the product you are endorsing and will earn a financial benefit if they purchase it.
- You have not spelled out the terms of your refund or return policies.
- Someone claims that your testimonials are fake and tries to sue you.
- You didn’t disclose in a product review that you were given a free copy of the product.
- Your website publishes adult-related content and you haven’t taken appropriate measures to keep underaged persons from accessing it.
Consider too these actual case studies of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would have to give up personal information to complete an offer they were promoting. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer copped a massive $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 marketers gambled that they could get away with it and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of $$$ in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-picked websites, more than 90% had infringed at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were in breach of 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 notices or lose access to the Google program they had violated, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how you could easily become exposed to the risks of litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Product Marketer
- AdWords Advertiser
- Niche Marketer
- Amazon Associate
- EBay Seller
- Adult Content Publisher
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Seller Of Any Service Or Product Online
You need to ensure that your online business has the right legal pages and information displayed to all site users.
Compliance With Third-Party Companies - ToS, Policies, etc.
Leading online companies and government trade regulatory agencies emphasize the need of complying with the terms and policies of service providers.
You must let your site users know that your business complies with legal requirements and recommended guidelines. This not only improves trust and buyer confidence in your website, it’s also required in most cases by most companies you do business with online.
Google requires your site to display legal information if using many of their services or product features. This includes using features like Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Generating revenue online with your sites with Google AdSense …
(Google AdSense ads - policy requirements)
And even promoting your products or services through Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you sell products online with places like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant sites, you will need to add various legal pages before your products can be approved for sale …
(ClickBank – policy requirements for vendors)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires you to display clear disclaimers and disclosures to visitors, especially if you plan to use product testimonials or endorsements …
(FTC – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring That Your Site 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 ignore) these requirements. As is already the case, this typically ends up with the FTC making an example of businesses and prosecuting site owners 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 any chances. Even if your business is not physically located in the U.S. you should protect your business by making sure that your site complies with FTC guidelines.
Many sites provide guidelines and examples on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your business comply with FTC requirements. We provide additional references to some of these at the end of this article …
(Structuring your disclaimers and disclosures correctly is important to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Social Media Apps Also Require Compliance
If you plan to develop applications that will integrate with your site, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others will require you to provide access to various legal pages …
(Social networking apps also require compliance)
- If you are unsure whether or not you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of companies like Google, Facebook, etc., then you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote anything on your site via affiliate marketing, or generate revenue online with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay ads, or using Google AdWords to drive visitors to your pages, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you are required to provide on your site to comply with their Terms Of Service and policy requirements to avoid having your accounts terminated.
- If you’ve 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.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, most third-party websites require you to comply with their policies)
Common Legal Pages To Add To Your Site To Ensure Compliance
If you suspect that your website is lacking in terms of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following legal pages to your site will help your site stay out of trouble with many consumer protection agencies and third-party providers, and help to avoid potential legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “take down” notices):
- About Us
- Contact Page
- Terms And Conditions
- Website Disclaimer
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the above, you may want to look into adding any of these pages where applicable:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you promote or sell affiliate products or services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Linking Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (if your website or blog provides money-making information)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
Disclosure Pages – Types
Adding correct disclosure information is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Lets users be aware that you will not receive any form of payment for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Lets site users be aware that you will derive some form of financial benefit if they act on your recommendation and purchase through an affiliate link.
- Review/Sample Copy – Lets your visitors be aware that you have been given a review or sample copy of the product or service you’re reviewing or writing about by the author or product developer.
- Sponsored Post – Informs site users that you have been compensated in some form to write the post.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets users 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.
Adding Compliance Pages To Your Site
Ideally, you will consult your lawyer and ask them to prepare the content of your legal documents. Once you have this prepared, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Uploading Legal Pages Manually To Your Website
If someone prepares the legal verbiage for you as standard web pages (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your server, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend creating a legal folder on your server and uploading your legal pages to this directory (e.g. using FTP) …
(Upload legal pages to your web server using FTP)
You can then add links to these pages in WordPress using custom links in your menu admin area …
(Custom WordPress Menu Feature)
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are fully up-to-date and clearly accessible to visitors. You can insert these into your WordPress sidebar (or place them in the footer of your website or blog) so that users will be able to access legal information from all of your pages …
(It’s important to display links to your legal pages on all of your website’s pages)
For a detailed step-by-step tutorial about adding links to pages on your sidebar menu, refer to this tutorial:
You can easily find downloadable attorney-prepared website forms and agreements by searching online, or going to websites like the ones listed below:
(FindLegalForms.com – Legal forms)
Alternatively, you can purchase a package of website legal templates created by attorney Scott Talbert …
(Cut And Paste Website Legal Pages – Legal Templates)
Cut & Paste website templates feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with simple search and replace to add your own business details, then pasted into your legal pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Pages include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer (multi-discipline professional disclaimers)
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance (This proprietary FTC page accommodates new FTC regulations brought into effect in 2012)
- 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 WordPress page for every legal form you want added to your site, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload these to your server as described previously.
For more information, go here:
Plugins – Legal Pages
In addition to using templates, another option is to use a plugin.
Here are some WordPress plugins worth looking into:
(WordPress Legal Pages)
If manually setting up legal pages for your website seems too time-consuming for you, then consider choosing WordPress Legal Pages instead …
The WP Legal Pages plugin is not free, but it’s a reasonably low-priced and well-supported premium plugin that will help make the task of creating and implementing legal pages on your website much easier and save you time.
Here are just some of the benefits of using WP Legal Pages plugin:
- Pre-written Legal Templates – Over 20 built-in legal page templates created by professional lawyers.
- Very Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of the legal pages you need in a few minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – Full WYSIWYG editor lets you edit legal pages like any page on your site.
- Custom Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to any of your website or blog pages and the information will be automatically inserted into your content when you publish.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple check box and delete and manage these like any page on your site.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lock down. Page unlocks and can be accessed when users agree to your legal terms.
- New Features – More features get added to this plugin with each new version.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a menu item is added to your WordPress dashboard section …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Legal Pages Menu)
This allows you to create, edit and view your legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Settings Area)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different types of sites, such as business websites, niche websites, AdSense sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Create different legal pages)
Choose from a number of 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
To learn more about the benefits of using this plugin, visit this site:
Compliance Bar is a complete compliance and disclaimer solution for your online business …
To learn more about this plugin go here:
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin)
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
- Terms & Conditions
- Earnings Disclaimer
(Legal Suite Pro – 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 flexible, allowing you to install and use the plugin on all of your sites.
Go here for more details:
If hiring legal experts to create your legal pages is out of your budget, consider implementing at least some type of legal protection on your website until you can afford professional assistance from a legal expert.
We want your business to be protected!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator tool below, or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-written legal forms, or plugins as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you engage in any form of business online (or plan to), it’s important that your website is compliant with regulatory agencies and the terms of service (TOS) and guidelines required by 3rd-party services and products that you may be promoting or using online. Your internet presence must comply with a whole set of regulations, 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?
Legal Disclaimer: Once again, we are not lawyers and we do not offer 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 fully complies with the law concerning your specific business.
Below is a useful list of additional sites we suggest you visit to better understand what your site may require to remain 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 – 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
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- US Copyright Office
- 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 legally compliant website. Use the information presented above to quickly and easily add essential legal pages to your website or blog.
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