Website terms and conditions template: news, review, information or community site; subscription model

These terms and conditions have been drawn for sites that provide access to digital content in return for a subscription fee. Examples of sites that would use this template would include: a technology news and review site where some content is available only to subscribers; a site that provides access to a library of company reports; and a site that provides access to a business forum to subscribers. The content could be generated by the site owner or by the community your site fosters. It includes strong protection of your site against malicious use and your intellectual property, whether generated by you or by your subscribers.

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About this terms and conditions template

This terms and conditions template is suitable for sites that charge a subscription fee for access to online content. The business model of the site could also include advertising and access to some free content as well.

This template provides protection for your business if your subscribers interact with your site, such as asking or answering questions, sharing experiences or content (such as videos or photos). Examples of sites that would use this template include:

  • an online news portal or magazine or blog where some or all of the content is accessible by subscribers only;
  • a site that gives subscribers access to a library of reports or other information (such as analysis of listed public company information and share price history);
  • a forum (such as one giving business advice or a fan club) where full access or features are limited to subscribers;
  • directories or listings sites where access to the database is on a subscription basis;
  • information portals that give subscribers additional information (such as discounts) or the ability to sign up for an event or a benefit, or access to other resources at a lower cost.

Your customers could be other businesses or private individuals or both.

This template has been written to cover international use because sites that would use such a template are likely to attract visitors from across the world. It has been written to comply with New Zealand law, but much is likely to be enforceable in many other legal jurisdictions as well.

The benefit of clear terms and conditions

Using this document on your website will help you:

  • set out clearly how your business works and what customers can expect;
  • present a professional image of your business. Our use of plain English helps ensure customers do not feel intimidated by overly formal or legalistic language;
  • prevent misunderstandings and make solving disputes easier;
  • protect your website from misuse (we include paragraphs that form an Acceptable Use Policy, useful if your visitors can interact with your website, for example, by posting reviews or exchanging messages in a customer forum);
  • protect your business from complaints about content that your subscribers posted – particularly important if your customers can contribute content to your site that you might not moderate in real time.

Alternative templates

This set of T&C and the others listed below provide protection to sites that are "content rich" (in other words, provide text, images, videos and other media), and which require protection against misuse of that content. The templates differ in the level of interaction of site visitors with the site, and whether visitors pay on the site for access to the content.

Website terms and conditions template: news, wiki or community site: free-to-access model is suitable where content is primarily contributed by the users of the site and where the site aims to foster an open community. Examples of such sites would be free-to-access forums, wikis and community driven information portals. Like this template, it contains extensive provisions relating to use of content and interaction with the site and other visitors. It differs from this template only in that it doesn't contain terms relating to on-site subscription for access.

Website terms template: moderated directory, blog or review site is suitable for a site where content is primarily produced by the owner or is moderated before publishing, and where visitor interaction is likely to be more limited in scope. If your site doesn't have e-commerce facilities and doesn't aim to create an unfettered online community, then this template is most likely to be suitable. Examples of sites that would use this template include: personal or corporate blogs; directories (for example, of local attractions) where visitor contributed content is likely to be moderated and approved before publishing; or magazine-style review sites where content is published by pre-approved writers.

If you are in any doubt as to which template you should choose, please contact us.

The law in this document

The law in this T&C template is largely common law that deals with the basics of contracts: offer, acceptance, price and payment, delivery, liabilities and risk. That means that, by and large, you can set the commercial terms you want. Our guidance notes will tell you what you can change safely.
This document also contains paragraphs that provide intellectual property protection, both governing how your site content is used by your visitors and subscribers and how information posted to your site by your visitors can be used by you.

Document contents

The terms and conditions template includes provisions that cover:

  • definitions;
  • interpretation;
  • basis of contract (licence to use the website);
  • price, payment and cancellation (including renewal payments);
  • security of credit card details;
  • grant of licence for your business to use content posted by a site visitor;
  • acceptable use policy: terms governing user posted content on your site;
  • removal of offensive content;
  • security of your website;
  • storage of data;
  • protection of intellectual property belonging to the site owner;
  • duration and termination of the subscription;
  • interruption to the service;
  • other miscellaneous legal provisions to protect you (limitation of liability, warranties, exclusions, indemnities etc).
Draftsman

This document was written by a solicitor for Net Lawman. It complies with current New Zealand law.

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