Artists, get your web site LEGALLY SOUND. Read this.

 

Did you know that a website Privacy Policy is now a LEGAL requirement?

Depending on your state, if you do not have a Privacy Policy, you could be looking at a $2500 fine. I know this isn’t fun stuff to talk about, but it’s important. And it’s empowering. And, it’s gonna help you slay your roadblocks. And that’s what i’m here for.

So, let’s talk about it.

I first began researching this due to my upcoming offerings. I know that I need to have certain legal in place— PUBLICLY, ON MY SITE— in order to feel safe, protected, and free to really give IT (and give YOU) MY ALL, without any hesitations or worries.

So, I started researching.

What I learned… (NEWSFLASH…)

A Privacy Policy is not only a MUST for a site with e-commerce, but it’s ALSO a MUST for the protection of ANY web site which offers informational content. So basically, that means ALL web sites now NEED to have a Privacy Policy to be legally compliant!

And, though a Privacy Policy is now a legal necessity, it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to protecting your web site and content assets.

For BEST protection, there are THREE documents you want to have on your site. These are often referred to as The Big Three:

Terms and Conditions (also called Terms of Use or Terms of Service, but it’s the same thing)
• Privacy Policy
• Website Disclaimer

If you sell online products and / or services (such as e-courses and programs), there is ONE MORE document you will NEED: Terms of Use for Online Programs, Products and/or Services. (Sometimes, it’s also called something slightly different, but again… it’s the same thing.) This is the document that your customers will need to READ and AGREE to (usually with a check box, on your check-out page) BEFORE they purchase your e-course or ebook. (You may also want to share a link within your membership or e-course platform/site.)

 

Here’s what ELSE I discovered…

 

There’s a template (or package of templates) available at EVERY price point.

Good news! (And… NO EXCUSES.) Obviously, the minute we start discussing legal needs, we think about the cost. The pricing of legal template packages varies wildly. I have found that there is a price point for just about everybody. The sticking points are, your budget vs. your needs, where you can DIY it, and where you are better off with some customization by an attorney. Are your needs pretty straightforward, and you can use a template which only requires removal of certain pieces, or a name change here and there? Or does your web site and offerings require a little more customization than a standard template? It is best to have a template that is built for your unique business, of course, but even a more basic one is better than none (and remember that the Privacy Policy is now a non-negotiable.) Which brings us to…  

Different templates are geared to different niches.

Whatever business you are in, you can bet there is a generalized template for that! Depending on what you offer, and what you need to protect, you will want to have certain, specific language in place— language that suits your unique offerings. Depending on your niche, there will be certain templates that will be more attuned to your specific needs in the language they use. Check out the site’s specialties and read into their intended audience before you make your final decisions. Doing so may save you some time and money down the road, because if you start out with templates that more closely speak to your niche NOW, it will likely require less customization LATER. (In the resource list below, several lawyers specialize in templates for creative entrepreneurs. So, PLEASE read the sites thoroughly.)  

Research is non-negotiable, no matter how “boilerplate” an agreement you think you can get away with.

Most template purveyors won’t send you a copy of the document for your perusal before you buy it.
How do you know what you’re buying? Agreements are written in all different ways, and geared to all different needs.

Ways to investigate BEFORE you buy:

• Check the site’s own T+C, Privacy Policy and Disclaimers pages for a taste of their language style.

• Check to see if they have any client testimonials on their site.Then, Google the testimonial-givers’ sites and read through THEIR legal. Can you generally envision it as your own?

• Look up Facebook Profiles and Business Pages. Does the template purveyor have a FB Group? What are people are saying about their services and their templates? This is also a good place to check for the lawyer’s own activity and visibility. Are they accessible? Are they answering questions? When was the last time they posted?  

The elephant in the room…

Reworking someone else’s legal (and using it for your own site)

Lastly, I want to address cutting-and-pasting other people’s website legal statements from their web sites, altering them slightly to your needs, and using it as your own.

This is just not a good idea. Here are three of the biggest reasons why.  

1) It’s stealing.

Yeah, legal statements are heavy on the jargon. And many of them look almost identical, right? So it may “feel” less like stealing than it really should. But, guess what? It’s still stealing someone else’s content that doesn’t belong to you.

2) It’s illegal.

Sites that clearly state their policies and terms ALSO mention somewhere that, by virtue of simply USING the web site, you are agreeing not to steal or otherwise copy and repost any content from their site without their permission. If you do, you are liable. Yes, the legal stuff counts, even if it sounds like it was created by a robot. If they see that you have used their legal, you’re liable.

3) It’s potentially harmful to you (in another way).

Rewriting or revising existing legal language to our needs can range from moderately challenging to outright dangerous, for most of us. So, if you were to take an existing set of terms or legal language from someone else’s site and trying to retro-fit it to your own needs without the help of an attorney, that’s dubious, any way you look at it. Without knowing it, you could also be helping to incriminate your own self as well, if you use language in the wrong way.

NOW… How ’bout a nice Resource List for you?

I’ve done all the research, so you don’t have to. Grab my Website Legal Template Resource List interactive PDF below, and get legal!

Legal Template Resources interactive PDF

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