Last updated on 01 July 2022 by Sara Pegarella (Law school graduate, B.A. in English/Writing. In-house writer at TermsFeed)
When you decide to start a blog, you may need to do more than just start posting.
Legal agreements for blogs may not be fun, but they're in some cases mandatory, and in all cases very important both for you and your blog visitors.
However, the criteria are such that most blogs will end up on the side of needing these legal agreements in place.
Most blogs have features such as comment forms so that bloggers can easily connect to other people and fellow bloggers. This means that blogs collect at least some personal information from visitors: the email address.
This kind of agreement needs to cover all the important details of how your blog website collects and uses personal data from visiting users.
As a blogger, you may collect personal data from users in multiple ways, directly or indirectly:
Through Google AdSense. If you serve ads, the third-party (in this case Google AdSense) may collect data from users visiting your blog.
As a user of our Website, you may opt out of the use of the DoubleClick cookie for interest-based advertising by visiting the Ads Preference Manager.
Other third parties that are using cookies.
You may also need to comply with the "EU Cookies Directive" if any third parties that you use on your blog will insert cookies on users' devices, regardless if the cookies are used for remarketing purposes or not.
Privacy Policies are a way to inform your blog visitors of exactly what data or information you collect from them, how you collect it, and what you will be using this data for.
These legal agreements must be detailed, easy to understand, accurate and thorough. Don't leave anything out or be vague.
This can be something as simple as requiring a user to submit his email address when leaving a comment on your blog, or something as obvious as allowing users to register and create an account on your blog where they must submit information (such as real name, email address, zip code, etc.) in order for them to do so.
This section makes it clear that registration isn't required to use the site, but may be required to take advantage of specific features.
Note how the blog is owned by a company and not the author personally. This is an important strategic move that limits the personal liability of the author in the event that there is an issue with privacy or a violation of privacy rights of a user.
Placing or using cookies.
This is called retargeting or remarketing.
If your blog has readers from EU countries (which you should assume it will), you'll need to notify your readers that cookies are used by your blog, and obtain consent to place them to comply with EU Cookies Directive through a Cookies Policy.
Make the pop-up remain on the screen until a reader actively clicks on something that clearly implies consent for placing cookies is given, such as the "Continue" link in the cookies notice below from the BBC website. This will ensure that proper notice has been given and accepted.
You can use the more passive method of alerting visitors that cookies are used, but the more active method described above is recommended.
A passive method involves giving a notification that cookies are in use, but including language that says a user accepts this cookie usage simply by continuing to use the website. If a user to the website simply clicks anywhere else on the site, the notification box goes away and cookies will then be stored by the website.
Below is an example of a more passive notification and acceptance method:
Chances are that at least one of these conditions will be met either immediately or as your blog develops, especially if you wish to have a successful and popular blog that takes advantage of common promotional techniques such as allowing users to subscribe to updates via email, or tracking how many visitors your blog gets.
Our Terms and Conditions Generator makes it easy to create a Terms and Conditions agreement for your business. Just follow these steps:
Enter the email address where you'd like the T&C delivered and click "Generate."
You'll be able to instantly access and download the Terms & Conditions agreement.
Having a Terms of Service is not required by law, but having one in place is very beneficial to both you and your users. It's beneficial because it legally declares and describes exactly what you require and forbid your registered users to do, and can protect your blog against abuses.
Your blog should definitely have this legal agreement if:
For an example of how a Terms of Service can protect your blog and its content, consider the case of Ryanair versus PR Aviation.
Ryanair sued PR Aviation when PR Aviation was found to be violating the website Terms by "screen scraping" or collecting data from the Ryanair website and using this information commercially on its own website.
PR Aviation had registered to use the site and had agreed to the terms, which was required before access to Ryanair's flight information was granted. Because of this, PR Aviation was found to be in violation of Ryanair's Terms by doing something that was explicitly not allowed: using an automated system or software to extract data from the website for commercial purposes.
While putting a Terms of Service on your blog is a good move and required if you have people signing up for separate sections that only registered users can interact with, you must make sure that you have your users agree to these Terms in a clear and legally-binding way.
Otherwise, if an issue arises, it may be determined by a court that users never actually accepted your terms and are thus not bound by them.
A great way to get valid acceptance of your Terms of Service is to have a user check an "I Accept" box on the form that is used when registering an account for your blog.
The examples below from Skype and PayPal demonstrate two very successful ways of getting users to accept your Terms of Service agreement:
Require the box to be checked before a user can proceed to register an account or for a specific section on your blog. Provide a link to your legal agreements at the same time that you ask for acceptance.
These legal agreements may seem complicated at first, but they really aren't. The benefits of having them in place on your blog will far outweigh the effort you'll need to put forth to create them.
This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice.
01 July 2022