Business model of web-based businesses or online businesses is a well-known aspect on the Internet. Depending upon the type of website, corresponding legal disclaimers, website terms and conditions, and privacy policies are required to best suit the business needs.
Various types of online business models are discussed below from legal perspective.
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Blogs are usually employed to facilitate social interaction. Most of the blogs these days employ social widgets, such as, for example, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube etc. A blog should generally include disclaimer to minimize legal liability and disclaim any warranties. Additional information regarding name and contact details of company (individual) publishing the blog should also be stated.
If blog employs editors and / or guest authors, corresponding editorial and publication policy is mandatory, which should include writing & editing guidelines, disclaimers regarding original content, infringement of copyright (intellectual property rights or IPR) of third parties, moderation guidelines etc.
2. Membership Sites
Membership sites generally charge a fee (one-time, monthly or yearly) from users to provide exposure to valuable information, which may be used by the users to learn important skills.
Exemplary terms may be seen at StudioPress website.
3. Affiliate Marketing | Review Sites | PPC Advertising
While general websites aim to drive huge traffic of visitors, marketing websites tend to refer products and services to the visitors. The affiliate marketing model generally provides purchase opportunities to the visitors by offering revenue percentage to affiliate marketing partners.
Certain websites follow PPC (pay-per-click) advertising model, wherein affiliates are paid every time a user clicks. Similarly, review websites publish expert reviews of products and services.
4. Virtual Marketplace Model for On-Demand Services / Brokerage Model
In past few years, online marketplace for on-demand services has gained lot of traction. Examples include Uber for on-demand rides, AirBnB for on-demand stays, etc. Generally, these online business models operate upon a revenue sharing model, which can also be termed as brokerage model. For each transaction completed via the website or mobile application, the company charges a fee. This fee is usually charged from the vendor actually providing the service. So the consumers end up paying a flat fee for services.
Considering the example of AirBnB, it offers two sections including detailed legal terms and policies. As may be seen, crucial legal provisions stated in website terms include clauses related to, rights & restrictions of guests for booking accommodation listings, rights & restrictions of members for accommodation listings, booking and financial terms for members, booking and financial terms for guests, member content, copyright & IP policy, dispute resolution mechanisms via arbitration etc.
5. e-Commerce Websites | Merchant Model | Online Marketplace
Companies like eBay, Amazon, Flipkart, SnapDeal etc. follow online marketplace model wherein third party vendors (sellers) are allowed to sell their products to buyers. Depending upon the extent of control exerted by marketplace provider, the legal terms required will vary. A detailed analysis of website terms of eBay, Amazon, Flipkart, etc. may be seen here.
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