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Web-based Software Application Terms and Conditions Templates

May 2016

Computer software has been evolving for decades. A story that has seen the evolution from punched paper tape, to reels of magnetic tape, to floppy disks, onward to CD-ROMs, and eventually to downloads, is now moving beyond the fixed installation. While software that resides on individual devices remains hugely popular, not least with the explosion in mobile apps that has taken place over the past several years, the browser is replacing the desktop for many as their domain of choice for their software.

Web-based software or web apps have a number of distinct advantages over their device-bound counterparts. For one thing, a web app can be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection. What’s more, relying only on an internet browser rather than the the peculiarities of a particular computing platform or operating system, a web app is likely to be accessible on a far wider array of devices without the need for any platform-specific versions to be made. Distributing updates is also far easier, quite simply because there’s nothing to distribute, making maintenance and enhancement a more efficient process for both providers and users alike.

Terms and conditions represent a key element of a web app, ensuring the protection of valuable intellectual property, and regulating the relationship between operator and user, setting out the parties’ respective rights and obligations in clear language that (ideally) can be understood and assimilated before it is “accepted”.

Previously known as Web-Based Software Terms and Conditions, our new Web-App Terms and Conditions come in two flavours: one for free web apps, the other for subscription-based web apps. In each case, the templates have been designed for use with both consumer and business users. Where certain provisions apply only to one category or the other, this is made clear in the text.

Adopting an approach modelled on our updated website terms and conditions templates (of which more are expected over the summer), these new templates adopt a much more user-friendly approach to their drafting, with careful emphasis on consumer rights – particularly in the case of the subscription-based web app version.

The terms of each document establish the relationship between the operator of a web app and their customers, governing users’ conduct and use of the service and addressing key areas such as intellectual property rights (and, most importantly, the retention by users of the IP rights in their content), acceptable usage, legal rights, liability, privacy and data protection.

Over and above the provisions of the free-to-access web apps template, the subscription-based version also incorporates key terms covering subscriptions, the formation of contracts (an important element to set out when dealing with consumers), cancellation rights (including an explanation of the 14 day cooling off period and why it does not apply due to the web app being made available immediately), and consumers’ legal rights stemming from the Consumer Rights Act 2015 with particular regard to digital content and services.

These new templates and many more, including a wide range of software licence agreements, website and software development agreements, and website terms and conditions, are available as part of a subscription to our Business document folder, available for only £35+VAT for one year’s access.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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