Almost every site I've registered on, especially sites where you can share content, required me to agree with some form of (legal) text. Why do many sites require this? What could go wrong if new users wouldn't have to agree with anything?

I've heard some reasons that basically come down to making the user responsible for their content. Is this true? Is it important?

closed as too broad by Benny Skogberg, Erics, ChrisF, Matt Obee, Charles Wesley Dec 2 '13 at 18:21

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  • 1
    I think this question is rather broad and the ramifications will vary per country. But generally a TOS on a forum (telling you to behave, not use cuss words, not to discriminate etc ) will give the maintainers a solid reason to kick you off the site when you do misbehave. Without explicitly stating that they will have a hard time. Ofc. thius varies wildly per site, per TOS and per country. To give an example of the last, in the US you need to mark a tickbox stating that you agree with the TOS. In the NL you do not need such a box (but cargo cult programming makes it common to have one anyway) – Hennes Nov 30 '13 at 0:39

TOS and similar agreements are U0B5, meaning on the user-business ranking they seldom serve the user, but are very important for the business (more).

Allow me to tell you a real story related to my previous flat.

The agency

  • We have signed a tenancy agreement and the agency had a signed copy of it. But we were never given a copy.
  • One day an estate agent came to announce that the landlord is putting the flat on the market, and we can leave whenever we want so long we give a month notice.
  • A few months later, we found a new place and signed with the new landlord so we move in a month.
  • The same day we served the agency with a notice.
  • The agency replied saying that per our contract we need to give 2 months notice (thus will have to pay an extra month of overlapping rent, which in London could buy you 2 ford fiestas).
  • We claimed that the agent told us 1 month (a binding verbal agreement) and since we had no copy of the agreement, we had no way of knowing about the 2 months clause.
  • We won.

The broadband provider

  • After being told the flat is on the market, we have changed our broadband provider.
  • Before signing, I explicitly mentioned that we are likely to move house soon, and asked whether any fees will be involved. The answer that was given to me over the phone was 'no'.
  • The T&C were never sent to us - they were always available on the provider website, but websites change.
  • When we called the provider to say we're moving home, they've asked for £100 moving fee.
  • The problem was that it was down to my recollection of the call, but equally, the T&C were never sent to us. So neither sides had a hard proof.
  • After a long dispute, we have left the provider with no extra charge.


Businesses have to ensure users have a copy of the TOS/T&C/EULA so disputes as the ones described above can be solve with a clear-cut "You had the agreement, you've signed/confirmed it, feel free to take us to court, but we will win".

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