One size doesn’t fit all for online terms of service

Q&A with Rachel Blue

published in The Oklahoman | November 30, 2016

While many online users often pay little attention to a website or app’s terms of service, quickly clicking “I Accept” to access the content or buy a product, the owners of such sites should pay very close attention when crafting those terms because one size does not fit all. That’s the advice of McAfee & Taft intellectual property attorney Rachel Blue, who was interviewed by The Oklahoman about best practices for creating such language, as well as compliance with federal laws governing advertising messaging, the collection of online user information, and the special rules that apply to websites and apps that cater to children.

“The type of a website or app offered will dictate the terms of service that the owner will want to utilize,” said Blue. “For instance, sites that sell goods and services must make the conditions of sale clear. Sites that are designed as forums for interaction between users won’t need a lot of language about sales, but will need to spell out user conduct rules and the consequences for breaking them.”

Blue’s bottom-line advice for website and app owners in order to minimize liability: “Be clear about what you’re promising, don’t promise more than you can do, and do what you promised.”