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Internet law - must Terms of Service be visible to all viewers of the website?

Utica, NY |

I'm involved with a website that will display images and information - on behalf of site members ( it will be viewable by the general public). Can the TOS agreement be kept "just between us" - that is, site operator and site members? Or must it available to the entire viewing audience?

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Filed under: Internet law
Attorney answers 1


There is no requirement that a site have a terms of service document. It's just that if the terms of service don't exist, the publisher is not fully protected against certain claims that may be made by users of the site. The publisher's rights would then be subject to the common law, meaning that their liability would not be limited against potential claims, and no choice of law provision would exist.

That said, it is possible to do a "generic" terms of service for browsers of the site, and a user agreement for users who register with the site, although you'd need to show the user agreement to people prior to their enrollment.