A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.
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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
The only ones openly intended for re-use tend to be for open source projects, however a Googly for "terms and conditions template" or 'generator" will give you plenty.
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
I recommend seeing a real attorney when you have real legal problems. Like you are being sued, you are about to sign an onerous non-compete, or you are trying to set up your company in order to minimize tax liability.
I don't recommend seeing a lawyer for a ToC drafting though. First, you need a real IP attorney for this stuff, not a family attorney, and the qualified IP guys can easily charge $500+ an hour.
What you really need to do is figure out why you want ToC at all and what you hope to accomplish with it.
3. You plan to violate the privacy of your users and need to CYA.
As far as ToC, your main ToC is to put a copyright notice on all your original material on your site.
Why do you need anything else?
Well if you allow users to upload hollywood movie length films and photos, you should have a ToS absolving you of responsibility for what they do. Of course this didn't help Megaupload at all, so it's kind of useless, but at least you put something out there.
If you don't allow users to contribute content, what is the purpose of having a ToS beyond a copyright notice? Figure that out first.
One reason to see an attorney is that you find yourself posting generic questions on web boards that no one can answer because you haven't given any information about what you are doing because you are paranoid someone will steal your idea. In this case, an attorney is best since they maintain attorney client privilege. Or so you hope. If they work for a company or VC firm they'll call all their buddies and disclose your plans 2 minutes after you finish talking to them. Private practice attorneys from reputable firms are a better choice than some attorney a VC friend set you up a free meeting with.
Ah, now I do think you need to see a lawyer.
So you're writing software intended for critical applications such as building, bridge, airplane, nuclear power plant design, surgery, etc, you are wide open for liability no matter what you put in your contract. If you get sued your only defense would be to show you had PEs on staff, and licensed subject experts who signed off on everything and used best practices. Otherwise it's malpractice, and you can not license malpractice liability away. There's a reason why software that deals with critical applications costs a fortune. Because they have dealt properly with all this.
A deserved +1 to Scott.
You don't need default T&C, you need specialist T&C
Thursday, July 03, 2014
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