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What is a mobile app?

App is short for application. A mobile app is software that you download onto your mobile device (or tablet) that gives you access to content more quickly and easily than if you were to access it directly through your internet browser on your device.

The content of a mobile app could be nearly anything. For example there are apps for games, music streaming, news, weather, radio, email, maps, social media and classifieds. Mobile apps can be free or they can cost money. Some apps require a subscription fee. Sometimes the app itself is free but certain content within the app costs money.

What are mobile app terms and conditions?

Terms and conditions are the rules that the owner of the mobile app wants users to abide by when they download and then use the app. Terms and conditions often cover issues such as intellectual property, privacy, use and misuse of the app and limit the liability of the owner for any problems such as outages or content that is published on the app.

Often when a person downloads an app they automatically agree to the terms and conditions. Alternatively, the user can be asked to tick a box agreeing to the terms and conditions before the app can be downloaded.

Do I need terms and conditions for my app?

In short, yes. The longer answer is that:

  • Apple – if your app is for the Apple App store (where there are default terms and conditions – read them – if they don’t put you to sleep then you should become a lawyer!) and there is some chance that you can make money from your app, or the app creates unusual risks, or there is real chance (even if the odds of that occurring are very low) of someone suffering damage or loss (financial or physical) then ‘yes’ you should get your own terms and conditions created for your app.
  • Android – this is an easy one, the Google Play default terms and conditions are nowhere near as protective as the Apple default terms and so ‘yes’ if your app is going to be in the Play Store then you should get some terms and conditions drafted specifically for your app!

There are others things to think about as well:

Firstly, after you have invested lots of time and money in creating your cool new app, you need to make sure you protect the intellectual property you have developed.

Secondly, there are a suite of Australian laws that you need to abide by and information that you need to provide to app users. For example, you need to tell users how you will collect and use their personal information. You also need to tell users what their rights are under Australian Consumer Law.

Thirdly, terms and conditions protect you if the user misuses the app. They give you the power to terminate users’ accounts and limit your liability for the actions of the app users.

What should I put in my terms and conditions?
  • The content of the app. This could be information, a service or a multimedia sharing or communication platform.
  • State who is allowed to use the app such as an age limit or a restriction on geographical location.
  • How the app may and may not be used.
  • State the legal jurisdiction of the app. If your company is Australian, then Australian law applies to users. However if you are marketing the app internationally, you might want to develop terms and conditions that apply to users in other legal jurisdictions.
  • State your intellectual property rights including how users can and cannot use the intellectual property in your app.
  • If your app is available through your website, make it clear that website terms and conditions apply.
  • Make users responsible for keeping their account details confidential.
  • Limit your liability for information or links put up by other users or third parties such as advertisers.
  • Ensure that you deal with Australian Consumer Law rights.
  • Privacy policy including how user’s personal information will be collected and stored.
  • How payments are made (if applicable).
  • Limit your liability if the app fails or if the user incorrectly uses it.
  • Set out the circumstances under which user accounts will be terminated such as if they misuse the app or provide false information.

Mobile Apps are software, on that basis you should ensure that your software is protected and that you set the terms and conditions upon which people can use your app (software).

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