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LinkedIn Lightbulbs on Website Legal Issues


In May 2024 I published a series on LinkedIn for my LighBulb legal snippets on legal issues to consider when your business has a website. This blog consolidates all the Lightbulbs into one.


Welcome to my May LightBulb series where I’ll be answering all those common questions (and some questions people might not know to ask) about websites and legal compliance. 💡

It’s important to protect those who visit your website, just as if they were visiting a premises. Therefore, there are some agreements and policies you need, as well as some practices to put in place, to ensure your website is ticking all those legal boxes. 🛡️

This month, I’ll be addressing all the legal aspects of running a business website so make sure you’re following me and tag anyone else you think might benefit from these bite-sized pieces of legal wisdom. 📜✅

Number One:


Q. Who Owns My Website? 🤔

A. Businesses should have full ownership of their website. Even if you’re using a website building and hosting service such as WIX or Squarespace, you still own the website and its domain. 🌐However, if you outsource the design and/or development of your website then you probably won’t own the website, or the IP (Intellectual Property) of any content not authored by yourself, until the project is completed.

Once the website has been launched and full payment made, then the copyright is usually automatically signed over to or licensed to the client. Although, it’s wise to check this is clearly stated within the contract or agreement before signing. 📝

💻And one final consideration - You only own the domain name for the period you have secured the license for (usually 1-3 years). You need to renew it, as required, to maintain ownership or else it can be sold to someone else. ⏳

Number Two:


Q. What legal documents do I need on my website? 📄

A. There are three legal documents you must have displayed on your website:

1. Website Terms And Conditions - Where you need to include your company details, VAT number, contact details, state the terms of using your website, confirm ownership of the content and how it may/may not be used, any applicable disclaimers. As well as other clauses 💼

2. Privacy Policy - Essential for GDPR compliance, your privacy policy declares the personal data you collect, for what purposes, how it will be used, stored, etc. 🔐


3. Cookie Policy - All sites collect cookies so you must state what type of cookies you process (not which ones you eat) and how they are used. You must also allow visitors to disable cookies 🍪


In addition to these documents, you’ll need a cookie content pop-up that gives the user an option to reject cookies. Acceptance of cookies must not be a pre-ticked box - the user must be able to accept, reject or manage cookies easily. ❌ 

Retail businesses or those selling services through their website will also require Terms Of Sale if processing transactions (including bookings) on the site and you must ensure the whole process of selling complies with the rules of distance selling in the UK. 💳

Some businesses may also want to publish a Modern Slavery Statement, Accessibility Statement, Sustainability Commitments, etc…but these are not mandatory.For more information on legal documents your website must have, please refer to my Checklist For Launching a Website:


Number Three:

Q. What are cookies, how do I know what cookies are used on my website and do I need a cookie banner? 🍪

A.   Cookies are small text files that are placed on a user's device when they visit a website. They serve various purposes, such as remembering user preferences and analysing website usage. Cookies also provide information that can be used to deliver targeted advertising.

To know what cookies are being collected on your website you may conduct an audit. You can typically find this information by reviewing your website's source code, using browser developer tools, or employing third-party services that specialise in cookie auditing. If you’re using a website builder or have analytical plugins you may refer to their policies to find out what cookies they are processing on your behalf.

In particular, you will need to know if you’re processing first-party and/or third-party cookies, especially because third-party cookies are considered more invasive to users.

🔍To remain compliant with Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), websites operating in the UK must display a cookie banner or pop-up to obtain explicit user consent to collect cookies.

The banner should link to a cookie policy, or privacy policy with a cookie clause, that provides users with clear information about the types of cookies used and allows them to accept or reject cookies.

📝For more help, download my free guide, designed to help you work out what cookies are being used on your website, and what information needs to be included in your Cookie Policy and pop-up banner:

Number Four:

Q. What should I put in my website terms and conditions? 💻

A. Under UK law, you must declare/confirm certain information on your website. This is usually done through website terms and conditions. This is an agreement that defines:

  • How users can contact you 📞

  • Key information including VAT number 💼

  • Who owns the website content 🖋️

  • How the website content may/may not be used 🛡️

  • What you (as website owner) are/are not responsible for 🤝 It may also include wording about links to other websites, disclaimers, and how you can upload content to the website (if it has a user area). 

Terms and conditions for membership websites and other larger or more complex sites may include more detailed information and it can be wise to consult a commercial solicitor when devising your website’s terms and conditions. ⚖️Get in touch if you need any assistance -

Number Five:

Q. Do I need to include my business information anywhere on my website? 🏢 

A.     Registered businesses should display their registered company name and company registration number (if applicable). 🌐If you are selling through your website you also need to have your company address somewhere on your website and information about how people can contact you if they have a query or a complaint.

If you don’t have a physical store or operate from your home, you may purchase a virtual address so you can be contacted without disclosing highly personal information.

📧Usually all of this information is placed in your website terms and conditions, your FAQs or the footer of the website. 🔍Sole traders are not required by law to provide this information but are advised to display their trading name, VAT number and an email address (even if you have a contact form). 🖥️

Number Six:

Q. Should I include a copyright legend and where should I put it? 🖋️

A.  In the UK, copyright ownership is automatically assigned to the creator of the work. Therefore, a copyright legend is not required. However, it may still be worth adding one to your site. ©

Remember, your website may be accessed internationally where copyright may not be automatically assigned. So it can be useful to display a worldwide-recognised symbol that tells visitors the content belongs to you. Copyright legends can act as reminders and deterrents, stopping people from using your work without your permission. ⚠️

🔒Copyright legends are typically displayed in the footer of a website where link to legal contracts and website information usually appear. 📄👣

Something like this is best: © 2024 Aubergine Legal Limited.  All rights reserved.

Number Seven:

Q. Can I use other people’s content on my website? 🖼️

A.   You may only use content produced by others if you have obtained their permission, otherwise you are infringing their IP. ⚠️For websites, sourcing images can be an issue but there are plenty of free stock images and some that require a subscription. In this case, the image is being licensed to you. It’s important to recognise that Google Images is not an image stock service and these images will likely be owned by other people/companies. Similarly, text may not be copied from other copyrighted texts. 📚

🔒However, there are exceptions when it comes to shareable content, such as embedding a YouTube video into your website. Although the content is owned by the creator, since it is hosted on a sharing site and as long as you’re not passing it off as your own work, you are usually able to embed it on your website. 

So remember to acknowledge the copyright owner and the source.Make sure you are diligent about copyright compliance on your website and if you do wish to use someone else’s content, you must get their written permission.📝Still have questions about copyright?

See our Copyright Lightbulb Series for answers to common IP questions:

Number Eight:

Q. What might I need to update annually on my website? 🔄

A. Your legal documents, including your T&Cs, privacy policy and cookie consent may state the year the document covers so this will need to be updated. I strongly recommend that, since you are doing this, you use the opportunity to read through your documents and check they’re up-to-date and still represent your processes and comply with current laws, etc. 📅📝

If you have a dated copyright legend that will need updating. You may also need to renew your domain annually. This is important because if you let your domain license lapse your site will be taken offline and your domain will be available for someone else to purchase. 

Probably, you’ll also want to give your website an annual spruce-up - replacing images, and testimonials, checking links are still working, etc. 🛠️

Number Nine:

Q. What should I consider when linking to other websites? 🔗

A.  Linking out can be really good for your website, giving you authority and making helpful referrals for your visitors. However, there are a couple of things to consider.

🌐Firstly, you must make sure you’re not implying association or partnerships with any sites you’re linking to (unless you are partnered of course). This could be misleading and lead to legal action and/or damage to your brand reputation. 🚫

Whilst you should make your best efforts to check you’re linking only to reputable websites, it is a good idea to include a disclaimer on your website (perhaps in your website terms and conditions) to confirm that you’re not responsible for any negative experiences users have as a result of clicking on external links. 

Always make it obvious that a link is taking a website visitor to another third party website.  You should never link to a third party website and try to pass their web page off as part of your organisation’s website.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to have a pop up notice explaining to your website visitors that they are leaving your website and linking to an external website.

Lastly, check your links regularly and know that if you’re linking to a website not considered secure (look for the lock icon next to the site address) then your website may be penalised in the search engines also. 🔍

Number Ten:

Q. If I collect personal data from people via my website do I need a privacy notice? 🛡️

A. Absolutely. Every website needs to display a privacy policy that states:

  • What data you collect

  • Why this is necessary

  • How this data is used

  • How you will protect this data

  • How long you will keep this data for

  • If you will/won’t share this data with third parties

  • Whether any data gets transferred out of the UK Your privacy policy needs to uphold and be compliant with UK GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations). 📄 You must also ensure that you are practicing what you state in your privacy policy and following the processes that you claim to in this legal document. Therefore, it can be beneficial to have a bespoke privacy policy drafted to suit your business practices around data handling. 🔐 A new privacy policy template is being created here at Aubergine HQ.  As soon as it’s live in the Aubergine Shop I’ll let you know.  In the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need assistance with your privacy policy:

Number Eleven:

Q. What do I need to think about if I sell things on my website? 💳

A. Aside from needing to display your privacy policy, cookie consent, and website terms and conditions, if you’re selling products or services on your website you must be compliant with consumer rights in the UK and have a special set of terms and conditions for the sale of your goods or services.

When processing transactions, whether that be selling goods, services, or taking bookings, terms of sale should be displayed and these should dictate the terms and conditions of the transaction. This will encompass your responsibilities to the customer and confirm the consumer’s rights.

During the process of completing a transaction, the user must agree to these by explicitly ticking an acceptance box before payment can be taken.

🛍️Product and service descriptions on your website must be accurate and consumer rights to returns, refunds, and receiving goods/services of satisfactory quality must be upheld to remain compliant with consumer rights laws. 📦

There are also rules about selling at a distance that you need to comply with which include things like how to deal with refunds, providing a confirmation email after you have made a sale and how people can complain (but hopefully that won’t ever happen!).

To find out more about these please refer to my article, What Businesses Need To Know About Consumer Rights:

Number Twelve:

Q. What photographs and images can I use on my website? 📸

A. You can use any photographs and images that you own the copyright to (as long as they are appropriate/lawful of course). 🖼️

Typically, copyright belongs to the creator, as is automated in UK law. So any photographs you have taken yourself or images you have created can be used and will belong to you.

Of course, not all website owners are best placed to create their own images and so these are often outsourced. Image stock sites will usually require a paid or unpaid subscription that gives you a license for every image you use. This means you may display the image according to the terms of the license. 📝

You might decide to use a photographer or designer to create your images. In this case, their work will usually be licensed to you via a service agreement. 🤝

Either way, you will usually not own the images but will be licensed to use them unless ownership of copyright is handed over within a legal agreement.What you must not do is to take images without permission from the IP holder. This is copyright infringement and you may suffer legal consequences. 🚫

If you wish to use an image created by someone else then you must obtain their written permission to do so and it is best practice to include an acknowledgement of the author of the image. ✍️


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