Legal Essentials for Web Developers

As a web developer, you create innovative and highly-interactive websites that keep your visitors coming back. While a crisp, new design is always important to being successful in the web development space, so is a carefully drafted Terms of Service Agreement and Privacy Policy. Elliott & Davis can work with you to draft the legal documents your website needs at an affordable price. In addition to drafting important legal documents, Elliott & Davis can also help with website-related legal issues like DMCA Compliance and Domain Name disputes under ICANN’s UDRP.

The Following is a List of Web Developer-specific Services we Provide:


A terms of service agreement (or “TOS”), also known as a Terms of Use agreement or Terms and Conditions agreement, is a written notice of the rules your visitors must follow in order to receive the services you have to offer on your website. A TOS is generally legally enforceable and is treated like a contract unless the rules you set for your website are unreasonable and violate consumer protection laws.

If your website has a valid TOS and your visitors disobey your rules, you have the right to enforce consequences for that violation. Depending on the severity of the user’s misconduct and the terms you set in your TOS, you will have the ability to restrict access or terminate that user from having an account on your website.

As a web developer, it is important to have a TOS that not only is enforceable, but is also tailored to the particular services you provide. Elliott & Davis, PC can help you create a TOS that is a perfect fit for your website. Depending on your needs, we can draft documents that closely mimic the services you have to offer.


If your website collects information from your visitors, it is good legal practice to have a page that explains where this information is kept and how it is used.

A Privacy Policy is the technical term for the rules you use in the collection, storage, and use of the information your users give to you. Many websites have privacy policies, but most do not actually comply with the various legal guidelines suggested by the FTC and other applicable laws. Others try to use “cookie cutter,” pay-and-use Privacy Policies that are either too broad or that do not describe the website’s specific services at all.

In the news, major websites like Google and Facebook have been scrutinized for their privacy policies. These sites have suffered serious legal consequences for not being forward with their data collection methods. While it is not a “required” document for your website in most instances, it is becoming increasingly crucial to the “Web 2.0” websites that exist on the internet today.

As a web developer, it is critical to ensure that your data collection, storage, and use policies are straightforward and comply with corresponding law. Our skilled cyberlawyers can work with you to draft a privacy policy that is user-friendly and reasonable and, most importantly, that is tailored to the services your website provides.


If your website targets an audience of children under the age of 13, or if there is a chance that children will visit your website, it is crucial to include a privacy policy that complies with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”, 15 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.). COPPA was drafted to protect children under 13 years old from unlawful data collection practices. COPPA outlines specific requirements (including privacy policies and obtaining parental consent) from websites directed at children.

Under COPPA, it is required to have a privacy policy attached to a website that is targeted to children under 13 years old. While most other types of websites are strongly urged to contain a privacy policy, it is required by law for a children’s website to have a privacy policy present. If your website or service is directed to children, we can help you draft this special privacy policy and also help explain the other compliance requirements under COPPA.


Piracy and copyright infringement are two of the most widespread cybercrimes on the internet. To address these problems, the US Government drafted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or the “DMCA”) in 1998 to punish those who allow this activity to occur. The DMCA remains in full force today.

In order to comply with the DMCA, there are a few important steps a website owner should take to safeguard himself against fostering piracy and infringement. One of the most important steps is a “notice and takedown” policy offered by that website to thwart any instances of infringement on the website. If a user contacts the website and informs them that infringement has taken place, the website owner must immediately remove that instance of infringement. While this is an easy process to set up and to run, it is often overlooked.

Elliott & Davis, PC can work with you to establish a proper notice and takedown policy with your website. We can help explain the DMCA to you, explain vital reasons to comply, and draft the important web documents you need in an effort to protect yourself from unwanted infringement battles in the future.

Another essential piece to the e-commerce puzzle is intellectual property registration, litigation, and licensing. Intellectual property (or “IP”) is the term that describes the different legal rights that correspond to intangible assets. Copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets are the major categories of IP that exist today.
Of the major types of IP, Copyright and Trademarks exist most prominently on the internet and are strictly enforced by state and federal law. Elliott & Davis, PC offers a variety of intellectual property services to help protect and regulate the IP featured on your website. These include:
      • Registration
      • Enforcement
      • Licensing
      • Compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
      • Registration
      • Enforcement
      • Licensing

If you have general questions about IP rights please visit our FAQ, or our Trademarks website at


Depending on the type of web service you run, it is good legal strategy to incorporate your business. Incorporating your online business will give you many advantages including:

      • Limited liability
      • Reduced tax exposure
      • Increased Credibility
      • Perpetual Existence
Elliott & Davis, PC can work with you to determine what type of an entity your business needs, register your business with Pennsylvania, and draft the important documents that correspond to your business structure.
Whether you’re a Pennsylvania company or out-of-state company looking to incorporate in Pennsylvania, our skilled attorneys can help. Please visit for more information or contact Attorney Eric Davis at 412.434.4911 ext 11 or at for a free consultation.



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