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SXSW Interactive 2015

How To Make Good Website, Text and Email Contracts

Entrepreneurs and businesses should know how to negotiate, create and enforce contracts in the digital age. Digital tools make contract creation easy, but they also create potential liability for businesses that are not aware of contract law rules and best practices.

Consumers should know the limits of enforceability of non-negotiable contracts that they commonly encounter in shopping for goods and services. When they are threatened with the enforcement of a non-negotiable contract, they should know their legal rights and the best ways to seek inexpensive, timely and effective resolution of their contract disputes.

The cross-border nature of electronic commerce means that both businesses and consumers should understand the possible application of state, federal and international contract law to their website, email, text message and print contracts. Businesses should know what options they have to choose applicable law and a forum to resolve their contract disputes.

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  1. How should I create "Terms of Use" for my website? Should I copy another site's terms? How should I present the terms to website visitors? If I later change my terms, do I need to get the agreement of my website users to the changed terms? Do I need to tell them about the changes? How should I decide where and how contract disputes will be resolved between my business and its partners and customers? How should I document the agreements that I make through websites, emails, texts, and print?
  2. I have a sincere but small dollar customer service contract dispute. It is not big enough to justify hiring a lawyer to litigate in court. Are there effective methods to resolve contract disputes that are not expensive and time-consuming? What do I need to know to take a case to small claims court? What are the most effective ways to complain to a customer service department? Is posting complaints online a good method to resolve complaints about goods or services? Is a class action useful to me?
  3. I clicked "I have read __ Terms of Use, and I Agree" before I used a website, although I didn't actually read anything. Now after using the services of the website, a problem has arisen and the website owner wants to enforce the online agreement against me in a way that I think is unfair. Do I have any rights to resist enforcement of these terms? Am I required to resolve the dispute only in the forum and by the method chosen in the agreement?
  4. How should a business negotiate a contract? Should it ask for "whatever it can get away with"? How much, if anything, should it disclose about its negotiating strengths and weaknesses? Are there any legal requirements for disclosure of facts in the course of negotiation that must be complied with? If facts that were not disclosed create problems for the other party in the course of contract performance, could that create liability, or other problems, for the non-disclosing party?
  5. If a U.S. business makes a contract with a business in another state or nation, what law will apply to their contract? Can the parties choose their applicable law? If they choose a U.S. state law to apply, is that enough to prevent other law from applying to their sale of goods contract? Can the parties choose the law of a place that has no other connection to the contract? Can they choose to resolve their dispute in a court that has no other connection to the contract?



Charles Martin, Author, Every1's Guide Press

Meta Information:

  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Entrepreneurialism and Business
  • Level: Advanced
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