Do You Know Where Your Website TOS & AUP Came From?

Posted by Administrator on 2/20/2011
Do you know where your website TOS and AUP came from? The only acceptable answer to this question should be Yes, my legal counsel helped me draw it up. Why? Any other answer demonstrates an under appreciation for the impact that your TOS and AUP can have on your business. Typically, web host resellers will use TOS and AUP to restrict how their clients will use their web services. If you have an e-commerce site, then your TOS and AUP are used to tell customers what they can and cannot do on your site. If when starting out with your business, you were like most people, clueless about the things you could put into place legally to protect yourself, you probably looked at sample TOSs or AUPs or other people documents for inspiration. It is okay to look at somebody else TOS for a starting point but you do not want to whole heartedly copy it. What is wrong with using somebody else’s TOS and AUP? Their TOS and AUP may provide restrictions on your customers that you did not intend. Their TOS and AUP may require you to be responsible for more conditions or situations than you meant to be. Their TOS and AUP may not even be for your industry, thereby missing most of the pertinent items you want to cover in your TOS and AUP. Even if you do not have a problem legally with using somebody else’s TOS and AUP (for example, the author distributed it free of charge), consider that one size does not fit all. Just like you would not (hopefully) copy somebody’s Last Will and Testament off the Internet and use it for yourself, you should not take a TOS and AUP off the Internet and post it as your own! We see this all the time. People who know just enough to be dangerous will go out and get a form that looks close enough. Guess what? While your form may be legal sounding to you, to a lawyer, it may end up being gibberish which does not make any sense and may not cover your legal bases. How to resolve your problem TOS and AUP situation? Make sure you are not using a plagiarized TOS or AUP. First ask around; where did your company TOS or AUP come from? It is possible that whoever authored it can tell you where they found their sample TOS. If not, you can try searching on the Internet for phrases found within your TOS or AUP. If you cannot find any evidence that it was written specifically for your company, chances are it was heavily borrowed from somewhere. If you can verify that your TOS or AUP is not plagiarized, have a lawyer review your current TOS or AUP. How well does it protect you? What does it leave out? If you decide that you better start out with a new TOS or AUP, make sure you start out with a TOS or AUP template that is designed for your industry. Do not use a sample TOS or a sample AUP that is for another industry. It should contain language that deals specifically with issues that arise within your industry. The last thing to remember is that the TOS and AUP are not artifacts that you should have in place just because you are supposed to. These are legal documents that you should tailor for your specific situation so that they best protect your assets given your business as well as save you money and even increase your profits when possible. Hostlegal offers Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy templates and other legal templates for resellers. Get protected today! Please visit: