Question: I have to admit … I never read those lengthy “terms and conditions” on websites. I simply scroll to the end and click “accept.” If something goes wrong, am I really legally bound?

Answer: Whether you read it or not, a website’s “Terms of Use” is actually a legal contract between the website owner and you. Courts often recognize properly drafted Terms of Use, and enforce their terms.

Contractually speaking, a website could simply state its terms on the home page. When a user enters a website, they accept its terms – similar to a storefront window sign. But due to the scope of the internet, and the unknown identity of billions of users, a box click is required.

Terms of Use Commonly Required

  • Jurisdiction: To avoid being brought across the country or world, a site owner determines home court of jurisdiction, in case of a future lawsuit.
  • Arbitration: Class action lawsuits are more available in the online world, due to the huge number of users experiencing identical site visits. A website owner can require users to waive this right in favor of arbitration.
  • Disclaimer of warranties: Have you ever downloaded a virus from a website? It is rarely the fault of the website owner. Such a disclaimer protects the owner for unintended consequences of use like malware or viruses.
  • Limitation of allowed conduct: Social media sites especially need to waive liability for the acts of other users. Have you ever read the hate filled anonymous comments section of a news site? Facebook has its bully users. has produced many bad dates. Craigslist … oh boy.

This article was originally published in the Lowell Sun and is for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.