Acceptable Use Policies — or Terms of Service agreements, as they’re more commonly known — are the online version of “fine print.” Are you sure your website’s TOS is up to date? Could you benefit by consulting with a Terms of Service lawyer?
Be honest: When’s the last time you read a website’s terms of service agreement? Or maybe the better question is: Have you ever read one? After all, it’s easier to skip over all that lawyer-talk and just check the box that says, “I Agree,” right?
Once you click the box, though, you’re saying you agree with the contents of that agreement.
Take, for example, the plaintiff in Feldman v. Google Inc (2008). He alleged that at least 20% of the clicks for the keywords he purchased, using Google’s AdWords program, were fraudulent. Google, for its part, reminded involved parties that the plaintiff accepted the Terms of Service, which addressed the issue the plaintiff lodged. The United States District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of Google and dismissed the case.
Ultimately, the court decided that plaintiffs didn’t have to read the Terms of Service, but only be given reasonable notice that such terms existed along with the opportunity to review them.
What Does A Terms of Service Lawyer Usually Include In An Agreement?
Terms of service agreements set boundaries and guidelines for acceptable use by end users. They outline expected behavior and define penalties for violating the contract. Terms of service should cover a broad range of issues that include copyright and online privacy policies, interaction with other users, account security, online safety, payment terms, location provisions, developer provisions, advertising protocols, in addition to dispute procedures and termination parameters.
If you’re launching a website – especially an e-commerce site — consult an Internet lawyer.
Copying Terms of Service Agreements Can Be Copyright Infringement
Even though some folks think copying is the highest form of flattery, don’t copy another website’s terms of service. Don’t even copy it to make a tweak here and another little tweak there. Technically, it’s copyright infringement. Besides, your website is unique with its own set of requirements and circumstances. A copied contract may not cover everything. An experienced Internet lawyer can help draft a terms of service agreement specific to your needs.