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    If you sell an online membership, you need terms and conditions specific to your membership. 

    Memberships, like online courses, have nuances that separate them from services and other products due to their digital nature and method of participation.

    Let's talk about what should be included in these terms and why they are important to have.

    Why Terms and Conditions

    Terms and conditions are vital on your website if you're selling anything. Consider it the rule book for your site of the do's and don'ts.

    It lets visitors know what your policies are and may provide your business some legal recourse should someone violate these policies.

    With a membership, all of your digital content included in the online access is at stake. 

    Because your intellectual property is so valuable, at minimum you want a clause that protects what you are sharing with others. 

    Intellectual Property

    So what is IP?

    It's your valuable, intangible creative content that, in the case of a membership, may be bundled as the instruction, discussion, videos, templates, guides and checklists that make up your community content.

    Your membership terms should have a clause that strictly prohibits copying and distributing your content.

    Give members a license to use the membership content, but you as the copyright owner must retain all rights to the digital material you create.

    Recurring Fees

    What about payments?

    Because this is a membership, there will be a particular cadence for when membership fees are collected.

    This could be monthly, quarterly or yearly, whenever you are scheduled to charge members to access the membership content.

    Include a credit card authorization in your membership terms and conditions so that you have permission to charge each member's credit card.

    This should not be a surprise but an expected, agreed upon requirement to access the membership area.

    If there are any specific payment plans or terms that the customer must agree to, note them here.

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      And then of course, there are refunds. 

      No business is a fan of refunds but the process for refunds should be outlined in your terms.

      It's likely that you do not provide refunds for membership content that has already been released and consumed by your members.

      For example, in a monthly membership, you may note that no refunds are given for previous months.

      Now of course, if there's a valid reason for a refund, such as the membership portal was unavailable so that a member could not access the content, this likely would not apply.

      And if a member wishes to terminate their membership, you can note that they must terminate by a certain date each month to avoid their credit card being charged and that they will not be reimbursed for failure to terminate on time.

      The important thing here is to be clear and transparent about your policies. 

      Terminating Member Access


      Let members know under what circumstances their membership may be terminated.

      Online membership access could be terminated if a member violates the membership's terms and conditions or stops paying, for example.

      You can list some specific reasons but may also include a more general statement that a membership may be revoked at any time at the company's discretion.

      This could come into play if the member is not a good fit for the program or is disruptive to the membership.

      Terminating the Membership

      It's also a good idea to note that the membership itself could be terminated at the company's will.

      I'm not a fan of the "lifetime access" often touted for memberships and online courses because life is unpredictable. 

      Business owners changes course, end one business to start another or face other issues that could halt the continuance of a program.

      You can state in your terms that members will have access for as long as the membership exists and that notice will be given should the company decide to close the program.

      Where to Link

      So where do you link these terms?

      I like to see a link to the terms at checkout when the customer is purchasing access to the membership.

      It can be a checkbox requiring the customer to acknowledge that they read and understand the terms.

      The terms and conditions should also be linked in the footer of the sales page and in the membership itself for reference.

      Use Solid Membership Terms and Conditions 

      In need of a terms of use template for your membership?

      Check out my website terms where I have all types of T&Cs for your website, licensed products, online course and membership.

      Solid Legal Protection

      Want a robust contract bundle instead? Purchase these membership terms as part of 15 legal templates in Legally Good Club.

      To learn more about Legally Good Club and get tips on how to protect your business legally starting today, watch my free legal workshop.

      This blog posting is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not provided for specific, individual legal advice.