Terms of Use

Terms of Use are one of the most important documents on a website. These terms generally set forth your understanding with your users as to how they may use your site, including what kind of content users can and cannot post to your site, what their obligations are regarding copyright infringement and reusing your material, and procedures dealing with Digital Millennium Copyright Act compliance.

If member websites offer user accounts, the terms of use will govern how accounts are created, managed, and terminated. Terms of use are especially important as they help regulate what kind of activities users are allowed to perform on the site, and reduce liability for potentially infringing activities for both the owners and users of the website. More information on terms of use can be found at the Citizen Media Law Project’s Legal Guide.

Terms of use will vary widely from website to website, therefore there are no templates available for this policy in its entirety. However, every terms of use should include a section on compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which may allow website owners that comply with all other requirements of the DMCA — such as registering a copyright agent and properly responding to a takedown notice — to avoid copyright infringement liability based on the acts of the sites’ users. Full list of DMCA requirements.

Sample template for DMCA: DMCA Template

While we don’t have a sample Terms of Use, MinnPost and NPR have excellent terms and conditions for their own websites, which can be used as examples.