Acceptable Use Policy
The acceptable use policy is to inform visitors to your website the practices and constraints that a user must agree to in order to access your site.
When should you use an Acceptable Use Policy?
The user agreement is a form of protection for you as it seeks to prevent the unauthorised reproduction of material contained on the website, and undesirable user behaviour such as hacking, introducing viruses and uploading illegal or defamatory content. The terms in the version available on PocketLaw are deliberately broad and general so that the policy can be adapted to most websites. The terms do also allow you to remove any offending material posted by a visitor or user as well as the ability to suspend, or permanently disable, a visitor or user’s right to access the website in the event that the visitor or user does not comply with the terms in your acceptable use policy.
It is not anticipated that the acceptable use policy will be negotiated and can be used for both consumer users/visitors and business users/visitors.
Why is an Acceptable Use Policy important and why should you use an Acceptable Use Policy?
Whilst not strictly required by law, having a website acceptable use policy is best practice for businesses with an online presence as it will allow you to have control over what you could be liable for in the event of an illegal act. A fair use policy would likely give visitors and users more confidence in your business as it gives your business more credibility and make it seem more professional.
Having a user agreement would ensure that visitors and users have clarity as to how they are allowed to use your website and under what circumstances you would be able to withdraw your services or close a user or visitor’s account. If implemented properly, the acceptable use policy also creates a contractual relationship between you and the users / visitors and therefore giving you the benefit of certain contractual remedies in the event of a breach of the terms.
It is especially important to have a website acceptable use policy if users and/or visitors are able to upload any content or information onto the site. The terms in the policy will ensure that users and visitors are aware of their obligations to act in a certain manner, to not introduce any technologically harmful content (such as viruses, trojans etc) and to avoid uploading any content that is obscene, offensive, hateful, deceiving, defamatory, sexual, violent, threatening or illegal.
What are the common pitfalls of an Acceptable Use Policy?
As mentioned above, this acceptable use policy should be used in conjunction with the other terms and policies mentioned above. It is therefore very important that this fair use policy should not contradict your terms and conditions as that would cause confusion as well as potential legal issues.
The website acceptable use policy should be clearly visible and easily accessible to all users and visitors of the website. As you will require clear consent from each user and visitor for the terms to be binding on them, we would recommend that an active opt-in, such as requiring users and visitors to click on an acceptance button before they use the site, be put in place.
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