Is there a boilerplate form that works, or another resource? Don't want to spend thousands with a lawyer just yet, that can come later when we get more users.
In order to create a PP and TOS that works for your business, you should definitely seek the help of a lawyer who specializes in this field. There are plenty of experienced and affordable lawyers at www.lawtrades.com, and I recommend giving it a try if you’re serious about protecting yourself and your business. Not to mention, I have seen PP and TOS prepared routinely for $600 or less.
I understand that dealing with a lawyer is often a daunting and intimidating task, and since you’re operating a startup you certainly have other tasks to focus on. However, if you invest the time now to protect yourself it could potentially pay dividends in the future. It may be tempting to simply have these important documents created with the use of a generator, but I have seem more harm than good come from these. Additionally, the generated documents are essentially a “blanket” document and contain a lot of information that does not pertain to your business. This results in a PP and TOS that is much longer than it should be. Besides, if creating your own legal documents was so easy then why doesn’t everyone do it? I’ll tell you why and it’s the same reason why computers cannot completely automate the process of accounting. It is because human input, knowledge, and expertise is needed, period.
Think of your PP and TOS as stating how your business operates. If users doesn't feel comfortable visiting they may not convert or worse, just use a competitor. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Just think, this potential headache could be avoided by simply taking the time now to create a proper PP and TOS.
The following article from Forbes does a great job emphasizing the importance of hiring a lawyer.
Hope this was helpful! Feel free to check out www.lawtrades.com when you're ready or just message me directly if I can further assist in any way.
And don't forget to mention "clarity" for a discount :)
I have read the Terms & Conditions for Google Chrome, The NYSE, ebay & Dwolla.
My Advice: Take the Terms & Conditions seriously!!
Please do NOT listen to irresponsible advice calling for you to simply "replace" your name with your competitors name. That is completely irresponsible.
While you should absolutely read every word of your competitor's Terms & Conditions, do that to glean interesting details about their business models. I promise you will have a better understanding of how your competitors operate by reading their Terms & Conditions and that's hugely valuable.
Print the Terms & Conditions of your competitors (3-5 companies is enough) and carry them around with you. Read each of them carefully, mark them up with a red pen and you'll notice that they do have some identical paragraphs, which are the standard ones that are in fact probably safe to re-use. Since I happen to be putting the finishing touches on my own Terms and Conditions right now, I pasted a portion of the opening paragraph below.
"Although we would love to have a one page membership agreement with a few bullet points, our increasingly litigious society makes that impossible. To make this more interesting, we highlighted some key points below and tried to avoid the legal ease at every turn. But website Terms & Conditions are contracts, so please read the entire membership agreement.
All the best,
There are no easy/cheap shortcuts, but there are lawyers and firms that are more efficient than others. As a startup lawyer focused on social media, I wrote a post on this subject; the title says it all:
Happy to connect by Clarity to answer any questions or offer specific advice as appropriate. I'm a California licensed attorney, former head of legal at eHarmony.
You can hire a qualified candidate to create what you need on oDesk.com. They will most likely be from another country but have plenty of experience working with US customers. One of the lawyers I hired got his masters in the US and worked here for several years then moved away to another country. Best of luck!
You can get the basic skeleton content from some of the competitor websites. Then review that carefully for what makes sense for your business, and for your product. For example, if you offer login via LinkedIn or Twitter and your competitors do not offer that, add a specific section on 'using external party services for login and profile details'.
Nothing legal so far.
Next, get your attorney involved for a review, for consistency and clarity of message. Give the competitors' websites to your attorney too, to ensure that everything you 'pick' makes sense. Second opinion always helps. It also ensures that legal jurisdiction for various conditions is correctly mentioned.
Regardless of what you decide to do--just get it reviewed so you feel confident about your terms. Example: I had a client who copy and pasted from a competitor site but did not get it reviewed. Turns out if you needed to contact the site per their terms the contact section still had their competitors name on it! You don't want that to happen. It shouldn't take experienced lawyers more than an hour or two max to help you review--it would be worth the money to rest easy. When it comes to social media and especially if you are crowd sourcing content or curating any photograph there are a lot of IP considerations to work through. Good luck.