What’s a terms of service (TOS)?

A terms of service (TOS), also known as terms of use or terms and conditions, is a contract established between a company and a user that defines the rules by which a user must abide by in order to use the service. It’s the foundational contract between a service provider and a user.

A TOS is generally legally binding, although some companies (like websites) will offer them primarily as a disclaimer. Terms are typically enforced by refusing service in the event that a user somehow violates the set term – but they could also be enforced with a breach of contract lawsuit, or as a defense against a suit from a user. A TOS may include things like:

  • liability provisions that can define the company’s legal liability for damages that users might incur
  • arbitration options for user grievances
  • definitions of keywords and phrases
  • payment details
  • opt-out policies
  • accountability for online actions, behavior or conduct within the company’s sphere of influence (e.g. on a website – what you can’t do on that website)
  • links to other company documents, like a company’s privacy policy outlining how personal data is used

A TOS is similar to a EULA for licensed software – the primary difference is that with a TOS, users are utilizing a service rather than a product.

If you need assistance establishing a TOS for your company, contact us.


Megan is a video game industry veteran and guest blogs at Odinlaw.com

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