Free Website Terms and Conditions Templates for Your Blog

by Tom McEwin on 12 October, 2010

Website Terms and Conditions Template

Website terms and conditions are important for any blogger to have as they set out the necessary legal notices for visitors to a website.  Also known as website terms of use, or website terms of service, they will usually include various disclaimers and also specify what is expected of visitors.  In this post I’ll look at where you can find some free website terms and conditions templates to use for your blog, and how I went about customising mine.

A little help from Google

Here is a look at the terms of use templates I discovered after some quick googling, and by ‘template’ I mean free versions that the publisher is happy for people to adopt:

1) UK Website Terms and Conditions Templates:

The WebsitePrivacyPolicy.co.uk and Ecomlegal.com templates are both prepared by UK law firms.  They are almost identical so it is probably the same firm which prepared them.  Guidance notes for completing the template are here.  I found them to be clear, reasonably comprehensive yet concise, and not overly technical.  They are a great place to get started.

The UK Business Link sample terms and conditions and disclaimer are provided courtesy of the UK government.  They are easy enough to understand, but rather brief.

2) Terms and Conditions Generators: I found a couple of sites which had generators to help input relevant details into the template terms of use.

Privacy Policy / Terms of Use Generator at Bennadel.com: this basic generator prompts for state and company name to be entered and outputs in both text and html versions.  It includes a privacy policy and seems more targeted towards sites providing code or software.  Nowhere near as detailed as some of the other templates I found, but it had some useful wording in it.

The Terms of Service Generator at Legalriver.com: this generator involves a lot more input fields, covering different categories related to general terms, blogging and sales.  Requires all fields to be completed and an email address to be provided for the generated terms of use to be delivered.  I enabled all options and the result that was emailed to me was extremely comprehensive, and frankly more than I needed (or wanted).  A great example of the sorts of things that website terms and conditions can cover, but written in legal-speak so a bit heavy going.

Between these terms and conditions templates I had plenty of examples to go on, which I then mixed together when drafting mine.  No doubt there are plenty of other examples out there which some more googling may reveal.

Important Stuff to Be Included

As with website privacy policies, the terms and conditions for a blog will need to match the intended use of the blog.  There are certain key things which these documents should be included as a matter of course, but there is other stuff which may be optional.  The tricky bit is knowing the difference.

So I thought I would compile a list of the important things which I adopted from the templates listed above, which I used in putting the terms and conditions together for this blog.  This list includes a number of things which should probably be included in the terms and conditions for most blogs:

  • a statement that people using the website will be bound by the terms and conditions (so they are effective);
  • a disclaimer and limitation of liability statement (to reduce the risk that visitors will be able to sue the blog owner);
  • a statement which discusses links to and from external sites, and outlines that affiliate links may be used;
  • a clause which identifies the local law applicable in determining any disputes under the terms and conditions (always good to have a home ground advantage);
  • a paragraph regarding the conduct of visitors on the site (something that encourages people to play fair and discourages online shenanigans); and
  • a statement outlining the intellectual property arrangements, and permitted uses of blog materials.

There are also a couple of specific things in the Legalriver.com template terms and conditions which I excluded as they weren’t really relevant for my blog, but they are worth noting as they may be relevant for others blogs:

  • DMCA notice procedures –  I excluded these given I tend to scruitinise blog comments, and thought it was unlikely that material violating copyright would otherwise get posted to this blog; and
  • Terms and conditions of sale – I excluded these as I am not selling any products directly and hence they were unnecessary.

The Paid (But Inexpensive) Alternative

It took me quite a while to go through all the terms and conditions outlined above and to customise one for use with this site, along with a website privacy policy.  The alternative is to buy an inexpensive template which is suited to where you live.

If the thought of saving a fair amount of time and hassle appeals to you, then I recommend investigating the template internet legal forms at findlegalforms.com:

  • they offer website terms of use, privacy policies and a range of other web related legal documents which can be purchased together as a combination pack;
  • the agreements come customised for the USA (by particular states), Canada, the UK, Australia or India (country can be selected at the top right of the header to their website); and
  • they are very resonably priced, given the time they save.

GET Internet Legal FormsWell that wraps things up from me for this post. In my next post I’ll be looking at issues to consider before registering domain names which contain a trademarked word.

© Tom McEwin
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Jan Littlehales October 14, 2010 at 8:50 AM

Hi Tom – this info is very helpful and something I need to include on my own websites. Thanks for sharing this important information on website terms and conditions.
Jan Littlehales´s last blog post ..Learn to Type – Ergonomically – Part 1

Leo Bookham October 14, 2010 at 10:23 AM

Hi Tom,
Good work on sifting through this rather heavy subject and I for one appreciate the results you have come up with.
Leo Bookham´s last blog post ..Solar Step Lights

Gee October 14, 2010 at 10:50 AM

Hi Tom

This is some really helpful information. I have struggled to find some info that is relevant.

I have come across some paid options but prefer the free ones every time.

Looking forward to the next installment

hilary October 14, 2010 at 11:21 AM

Thanks Tom

I found this information on Website Terms and Conditions very useful. It’s something that feels like rather a chore to get done, but it is so important to get it right.

Now I feel as though I have some valuable information to make the task so much easier.
hilary´s last blog post ..Boosting Your Immune System- Naturally

Tom McEwin October 14, 2010 at 7:02 PM

Hi Jan, Leo, Gee and Hilary. Glad you found the post useful. It was a bit of a slog to prepare, but I’m happy to have done it.

While there are paid templates out there, I prefer free, and even if I bought one I’d probably need to do this sort of research to satisfy myself that I had everything covered.

Doctor Bill October 14, 2010 at 10:25 PM

Thanks Tom for the Info. This is a subject I have been neglecting but really need to get to grips with. Still overseas so only get an odd occasion to check my e-mails. Must get active when I get home. Your articles are always helpful
Bill

Carolyn October 18, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Thanks for the info and links. This is something that I wanted to get right and hesitated with at the beginning. You’ve covered it well.

Tom McEwin October 19, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Thanks for your comments Dr Bill and Carolyn. I know what you mean when you say it can take a little while to get around to setting up the website terms and conditions for a blog. It took me 9 months all told for this blog, but I’ll be much quicker next time…

Lina Nguyen October 24, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Gosh Tom, you always put such fantastic effort to make your posts useful and “stickable”. Thanks for the tips, yet again. You know you should start charging for this information… :)

Tom McEwin October 25, 2010 at 9:32 AM

Thanks Lina, glad you liked it. Just trying to deliver the sort of things I think people will find useful – often based on the questions I have myself.

Jayne Pleysier October 25, 2010 at 6:05 PM

Thanks Tom for a great post and a list of really useful Terms and Conditions points which need to be addressed. In todays environment it is really important to keep ourselves protected and unfortuntely it will not be long until violation of T&c’s will be in the news with court cases etc for website which dont play fair.
Jayne Pleysier´s last blog post ..14 Keys To Improving Your Small Business Marketing Part 1

Tom McEwin November 3, 2010 at 9:33 PM

Hi Jayne – one particular site which has received a fair amount of press when they change their terms and conditions (and privacy policy) is facebook. Small (although not necessarily insignificant) changes affecting huge numbers of users justifiably draw a lot of attention.

Dino November 4, 2010 at 7:03 PM

Thanks Tom, extremely useful information here. An important but tedious (less so now!) part of putting a blog or other website together.
Dino´s last blog post ..The Legal Stuff

Tom McEwin November 7, 2010 at 7:56 PM

Hi Dino – you are right that putting together the terms and conditions for a blog can be tedious. The sort of thing that it is easy to put off as it can be frightfully dull. Glad you found the post useful.

Helen Proudfoot November 15, 2010 at 7:21 PM

Hi Tom,
This was very helpful information and did not make it such a painful job for a page as important as this.
Cheers

Terry Paris November 17, 2010 at 11:08 AM

Just the info I needed right now. Great stuff. Easy to find.

Jennifer S Benson February 10, 2011 at 1:01 PM

Hi Tom,

You know I really appreciate what you wrote here because I have always kept terms and conditions on my sales pages but I never thought about adding them to my blog.

I am going to have to make sure that I update my blog pages as soon as possible.

Thanks for sharing, great content. Look forward to seeing more of your work.

Jennifer
Jennifer S Benson´s last blog post ..Affiliate Marketers- It’s True! They Have Been Lying To You

Benjamin-x February 18, 2011 at 12:39 PM

THanks for the tips. Will be putting a TOS on all my sites based on this info as soon as i can get clear on the details.

John July 1, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Hi Tom,
As many have said I had never thought about it on my blog, so will get to it.
Thanks
John
John´s last blog post ..A Guide To Autoresponders

Mira - confused blogger August 7, 2011 at 2:35 PM

Is it okay to just put all the terms, privacy, about us in one page?
Mira – confused blogger´s last blog post ..Free MMORPG Games Online

Tom McEwin August 18, 2011 at 9:42 PM

Hi Mira, I can’t see a problem with having the terms and conditions and the privacy policy on one page. Personally I’d keep the about us separate, but that is mainly because I feel it could get lost amongst the technical jargon otherwise.

Mira - games blogging August 31, 2011 at 5:26 PM

Thank you for the reply. The thing is, my blog visitors are gamers so they don’t like to read a lot of stuff. Even with the gaming posts I try to make it 300 words up to 500 as the maximum, any more and they go TLDR (too long, didn’t read) at me.

I doubt any of them would read that stuff! I still added it in because I have heard that some advertisers will frown on website that don’t have clear ToS or privacy policies.
Mira – games blogging´s last blog post ..Best Free MMORPG – 2011 Games List

Lika October 10, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Thanks Tom
Lika´s last blog post ..Articolo: Test Cms numero 2

Peter October 13, 2011 at 6:44 PM

Thanks for sharing this great article. It’s so important to have terms and conditions on your site. Keep on the good work.
Peter´s last blog post ..conference call

W.Ga September 23, 2012 at 6:12 AM

I am currently in the works of launching my website, when it hit me…that this element is crucial! As there any suggestions specific for an entertainment site or would it be safe to pulls items as it relates to your needs, just as you did?

Thank you for the post!

Tom McEwin September 23, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Hi, thanks for your comment. As for whether there is anything specific that should be included in the terms and conditions for an entertainment site, that really depends on what you mean by ‘entertainment’, what sort of content will be on there and if there will be any particular risks associated.

It really depends on if you’re comfortable with cutting the standard terms and conditions to size (whether working from a free template or a purchased template), and then adding anything you think might be missing. Which is the approach that I took.

If there is going to be a lot of user content or comments on the site, you could include some sort of disclaimer that the views and content that users provide is not your own, and offering a mechanism for removal if problems arise. I expect that the standard social media sites (youtube, reddit, twitter etc) might have something similar that you could look at as an example.

W.Ga September 23, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Thank you for response (and so quickly at that), Tom!

Additionally, thanks for the tips. I have looked at terms and conditions/privacy policies on similar sites that might be geared to what ultimately will be used. The issue is simply not to overwhelm users (or fend them away) with long statements, nonetheless, clearly outline in which capacity this site is being offered, subsequently be used.

george iov December 28, 2012 at 8:13 AM

Thanks to your post i have a Terms template, generated by Legalriver.com. It’s too long but it’s easy to shorten it and to leave the things I need.

Em February 17, 2013 at 8:27 AM

A really helpful guide to putting terms of service on my blog. I will be using a combination of the tools outlined above. Thank you!
Em´s last blog post ..AT&T Negotiation

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