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Understanding Affiliate Agreements

Whenever you mention anything that has to do with law, you have to make a lengthy introduction.

Since you can hopefully benefit from reading what follows without it, I decided to make it a different post. (Affiliate Agreements - For Crying Out Loud)

Now, what follows does not refer to any specific affiliate agreement. Since each and every one contains the same drivel written in the same convoluted sentences - I decided to write affiliate agreements in a nutshell with my comments where appropriate. 

Although I do recommend reading every internet agreement of any affiliate program you are applying for  (since clicking that little box is equivalent to your signature), I'm trying to extract some sense out of that paid per word mess in order to make things less unbearable.

Image courtesy of pat138241 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Introduction

It basically says this: if you want to take part in this program, better read this (I bet more than 90% people just check I agree box and move on).

Definitions

This part

  • defines who you are - of course you know you are an affiliate, since you've just applied to become one!  
  • defines what's link - everything they'll give you and approve for linking to their content from your site – banner, text link, product link... 
  • what is Commission – percentage of the sales that you earn. (Here you may find out how long your link tracking cookie lasts. Let's say it's 60 days, meaning if I clicked on your link  and buy after 59 days, you get commission from what I bought. If I did that 61 days after I first clicked on your link, sorry.)
  • can contain some less important definitons as well

Affiliates Warranties / Registration

  • You're old enough to do this legally wherever you are.
  • You have a web-site which is not violent, racist, pornographic and you don't promote illegal activities.  
  • They don't want you to violate their or anybody else's intellectual property rights. Write your own texts, don't copy.

Unacceptable Advertising Activities Prohibited

  • They don't won't you to abuse their trademark - use their keywords including misspelings in your domain name, PPC advertising (like AdWords) and social networks (Facebook, Twitter etc). Some of them do allow PPC advertising, though. This part you may want to read for yourself carefully, especially if you have a plan and are not sure whether it's compliant.  E-mail their support and ask.
  • Have a new website and want to promote them on it? Let them know. Update info in your My account page in their affiliate software. Keep the old e-mail you gave them first, just in case they send you some info.
  • Don't abuse user name and passwords of third person and you are responsible for any abuse of user name and password by third persons. If you suspect anyone is abusing yours, notify the company.
  • They can terminate your account if they will. (In my experience they don't do it for no reason. However, sometimes it may happen that it's not your fault whatsoever). Some will pay what you've earned before the termination date, some won't.)  
  • There's a whole list of things you aren't allowed to use. Now, if you are an honest person, you probably don't even know how to use them. Unless you are professionally involved in preventing low-life practices on the net, of course. 
  • If they catch you breaking their rules they may terminate your account, withhold your commissions and tell on you to Google. Now, I wouldn't risk it. I hope neither would you.

Image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Health Claims

What has been written so far relates to any affiliate agreement but this here is specific for e-cigarette industry hence, separate post: E-cig Health Claims.

Responsibility for Your Site

  • Don't spam. Put FTC disclaimer on your site in which you state that you receive affiliate commission.

There's nothing wrong with transparency. Actually, transparency is the best policy.

It can look something like this “This is an affiliate ad supported Web site. That means if you buy something from a link or ad on this Web site, or based on my recommendation, either expressed or implied, I/we/the company may be paid an affiliate commission by the company from which you have made the purchase.

  • If a governmental entity contacts you with inquiry, inspection or investigation in which Company or the Company's products are mentioned you have 3 days to notify them about it.
  • You are totally responsible for your site and nobody can sue the company if you mess anything up on your site.

Affiliate Payment

  • You receive commission when people click on company's link on your site and buy something form that company.
  • If a customer becomes an affiliate, you don't receive any commission from what he purchases as customer thereupon. 
  • You can have only one account, but more domains listed thereunder. 
  • They pay you commission once it reaches certain amount, usually 50 or 100$ excluding the bonus some companies give you just for entering affiliate program.These bonuses range from 10 to 30$.
  • You can not use your affiliate link to buy products for yourself. Most companies have this in their Affiliate Agreement. (Although I know some who don't).
  • There are pending commissions which are basically ordered goods but the return period hasn't expired. After it does, they become the approved commissions and will be paid by the 15th of next month from the one in which they were approved.
  • Payments options are not many – it's paypal, check, wire transfer -usually for amounts exceeding 1000$. Also, you can get some prepaid card to buy their products (it's optional and some have it, like Amazon). Some companies offer only check, some only paypal. 
  • US citizens have to provide their tax information.

Your Relationship with The Company

  • You're just an affiliate, nothing else and nothing more than that. (Affiliate vulgaris, not necessarily domesticus - they allow foreigners into their programs as long as their websites cover the market or a part of it.
  • You are not an employee or representative of that company, that's  the idea.  So you don't do anything to present yourself as anything else but an affiliate.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ownership And Licences

  • Banners, trademarks etc are ownership of the company – do not modify them.

Although I often resize banners to fit my pages or columns and it does not seem to be the problem, I still check with them from time to time. I make sure I resize them proportionally, though.

Disclaimer, Limitations of Liability

  • This drivel section deals with them not being liable for anything you normally don't think they would be liable for.  And even if they are liable for anything whatsoever, the damages can not exceed 3 months of your commissions prior to incident you might be complaining about. 

So this is all about them being not liable. You are on your own, but that's not something you didn't know or expect.

Confidentiality and Non-disclosure Obligations

  • If you find out something about them from their affiliate software or any other place that non-affiliates don't have access to, just keep your mouth shut about that, just in case. Not that they will give you any uber-classified data. 
  • And if you tell them something you consider confidential they do not have any obligation whatsoever to keep it as such, except for your personally identifiable information. If you want it different, you'll have to have it in writing and authorized by them.

Miscellaneous

Phew, we are almost done. Gee, it took me whole day to make something out of it.

  • If you do something wrong and they don't react, it doesn't mean they can't claim damages if you do it again.
  • They can transfer rights and obligations to anyone, but  you can't (without prior written notice).
  • Now, that's a sneaky little piece of ... regulation with an objective of them preventing  your descendants from receiving your commission in case something unexpected happens to you. 
  •  Then there's blah-blah about governing language, law, venue and jurisdiction (Usually one place they specified)

Finaly blah-blah about this agreement version superseding all previos ones, comanies right to change it and its obligation to provide you with general info about that change.              

Nobody can give me back this day of my life. I hope it will serve you, so my efforts were not in vain.

Switchtoecig's Disclaimer

Switchtoecig website and its owners are not to be held liable for any  adverse effects and/or damages the reader may suffer which may arise from his or her not reading  terms and conditions of  every affiliate program they apply for, including but not limited to what is implied therein. 

Note that this sentence is appropriately colored considering how it sounds. Well, that was it.

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