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Your Liability as a Website Owner

18 February 2013 No Comment

Website owners are often held liable for the things posed on their websites. Because they own the site, they are seen as allowing other posts to be viewable by the public. This includes things that the site owner writes or posts personally as well as anything that another poster may put on that site.

Anytime that you allow other users to post content on your website, it is your responsibility to monitor that content and ensure that it is not violating any laws or regulations. It is essential that you have your website set up so that users must accept your terms and conditions before they are allowed to post. If for instance, you have a blog that you allow users to post comments on or you allow guest posts on your blog, you need to ensure that the content being posted falls within the appropriate guidelines.

When you require that users agree to terms and conditions it basically indemnifies you and frees you from responsibility for any posts that can cause issues regarding copyright infringement, defamation and other legal liabilities. Even with your terms and conditions however, you are still somewhat responsible for ensuring that the content on your website is not leaving you open to liabilities.

You cannot simply have a disclaimer that states that you are not responsible for the content on your site. You are liable for content that is posted on your website as its owner and in many cases, you can be sued or penalized when that content breaches certain liabilities. You should monitor your website on a regular basis to ensure that none of your content is breaching any laws or regulations.

If your site involves selling services or products for others, such as in the cases of affiliate sites, you could also be held responsible for any misrepresentation of those products or services. If a product for instance breaches warranty or consumer production laws then you could be held liable. You have to ensure that you enforce responsibility for advertisements from your advertisers. In other words, ensure that you have alerted them that they will be held responsible if an issue arises. You also have to ensure that you tell your customers where those products are actually coming from. Make a disclaimer that alerts customers of who actually handles those products or services and who is responsible for actions of unsatisfied customers in the event that a problem arises.

There are many things that you can do to ensure that you keep yourself safe when operating a website. Monitoring your site regularly and controlling the content on that site is a good start. Make sure that you check all posts from other users to ensure that they are not breaching any laws. Having a clear and detailed terms and conditions page as well as a disclaimer on your site are also good ideas. There is no way to ensure that you will never face a legal issue with your site but there are steps that you can take to minimize your responsibility in many cases.

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