Are you a small business owner considering adding an online course to your client offering? Maybe you already have an online course, but you’ve realised something is missing. If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. The global eLearning market is expected to hit USD$325 billion by 2025. It’s a high-growth market with reasonably low barriers to entry; who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?

Small business owners put hours and hours of work into creating online courses that provide value to their clients. However, it’s not unusual to discover they haven’t put effort into protecting all their hard work.

You may have heard the stories about small business owners (and large ones, at that) who have created and shared an online course, only for someone to copy (steal) the content. They tend to distribute it for a discounted price or free, which devalues the online course and means the business owner doesn’t get paid for the course they created. How do you avoid this scenario for your course? With legally drafted, effective contracts.

Implementing Terms and Conditions for Online Course Creators

To maximise your chances of success with your online course, you first need to create a course that provides value to your audience and delivers what you said it would. Assuming you have done that, you must protect the intellectual property and resources you have created.

TIP: Do the right thing and ensure your course delivers what you said it would. Nothing leaves a bad taste like purchasing a course that is a poorly disguised sales pitch.

What should Online Course Terms and Conditions include?

At a minimum, a small business online course terms and conditions document should include the following:

  • Online Course details
  • Method of delivery
  • Online Course Fee information
  • Payment methods
  • Refund policy
  • Refund request management
  • Intellectual Property and Copyright ownership and rules of use
  • Plus, all the usual contract expectations, such as professional disclaimers.
Course details and delivery

The course details and delivery should effectively advise people what is and is NOT included in the course. The terms and conditions have a powerful role in expectation management. For example, you cannot guarantee results from attending your online course, and results will vary from person to person.

Course fees and refunds

The fees and refund policy are critically important to ensure that you get paid for your course and that if there are refund requests, they can be managed fairly and quickly. Terms and conditions help you stand firmly behind the work that you do. It’s not unusual for people to ask for a refund from a small business when they would never dream of doing the same to a famous personality. Use the T&Cs to say ‘no’ when a refund request is unreasonable and outside the course terms.

TIP: You still need online course terms and conditions if your course is free.

Intellectual Property and Copyright

Your online course is your intellectual property; even if it’s free, it’s worth protecting. Legally-drafted terms and conditions remind people who may not understand IP and copyright to stop and think before copying your course. Of course, it won’t stop everyone who intends to steal online courses and profit from them, but it will give you recourse should they do so.

Consumer Law

An online course or program is a product. As a course creator, you are bound by the Service and Product Guarantees in Australian Consumer Law that protect consumer rights. For example, your course has to be fit for the purpose it was advertised for. If you provide services such as 1:1 coaching and group coaching via online platforms, the delivery has to be timely and of the quantity and quality promised. It is essential to make sure your online course terms address the exact inclusions and content to ensure that you fulfil your obligations under Australian Consumer Law.

Do my Online Course Terms and Conditions apply to people from other countries?

Assuming the terms and conditions are legally drafted and written effectively, yes, the terms apply to any course purchase (where you have advised customers of the terms and conditions). When a customer accepts the terms and purchases the course, the laws of the jurisdiction stated on the terms apply.

If there is a dispute or regulation that needs to apply, it will be the laws of the state that you have elected to put on the terms (usually where your business is registered but also where you prefer to have disputes resolved.)

You may have customers across the globe, but the jurisdiction can still be the State of Queensland, Australia, for example.

As a professional online course creator, you must protect your business with effective terms and conditions. For many small business owners, an Online Course Terms and Conditions Template is an easy, affordable way to keep your money in your pocket and reduce the chances of your course being pirated. We recommend Custom drafting for course creators with high-investment courses and programs or if you are providing a course about finances, increasing wealth or health-related courses and outcomes.