It’s tempting to take short cuts if it means you may save money establishing a business – especially if you are a startup. A common pitfall for startup founders and online business is neglecting their required legal documents, such as Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policies and a Website Terms of Use. However, your Website’s Terms of Use are a crucial part of protecting your interests online and are therefore not something you can afford to forgo. Copying a Website Terms of Use is not only a breach of copyright, it also exposes you to breaching the Australian Consumer Law.

What is a Website Terms Of Use?

A Website Terms of Use is a binding agreement between the owner of the site and its users. Primarily, they govern how people should use your site, but they also provide information about what you own and how you use information that is collected from users or visitors of the site. A Website Terms of Use form a contract between the user and the owner of the site, whether or not the user reads the Terms or not. The user can accept the Terms physically by clicking ‘agree’, but will be bound by the terms just by using the site.

Three Reasons Why You Should Not Copy

You Would Be Infringing Someone Else’s Copyright

Despite the fact that Website Terms of Use are not particularly exciting or original, they are protected by copyright laws in Australia. As a result, copying and pasting them to your website is an infringement of another person’s rights.

You Leave Your Business Exposed

Not only could you avoid trouble by copying and pasting other people’s work, but if you also seek legal advice to help you draft your Website Terms of Use you can be certain that they are drafted relevant to your business.

For example, an important part of your Website Terms of Use involves protecting your content, or your intellectual property. The content on your site that constitutes intellectual property may include your business name and logo, images you use or articles you post, as well as the content itself.

Another reason your Website Terms of Use need to be tailored to your specific business is so that you give correct information about how your site collects and uses the personal details it collects from users. Sometimes this information is listed in a separate section called a Privacy Policy, which people can read about when visiting your site. In short, data collection practices will vary significantly depending on what type of website you operate, and you need to be account for this in your site’s terms of use.

You Could End Up Saving Money

If you copy and paste a big chunk of clauses from another website that you don’t understand, this could get you into trouble that will be a lot more costly had you sought advice in the first place.

Your Website Terms of Use are your contract with the user or customer of your site. You are putting your business at risk if you need to rely on a contract that has not been specifically drafted and is inadequate in protecting your interests. Also, if it ends up in a court, the first thing they are going to look to are your website’s terms of use.

In fact, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issues fines to websites that have Terms of Use that are not directly relevant to their site and as a consequence, are confusing or misleading. They do this by conducting random searches to see what sites are non-compliant. This is an easy trap to fall into if you have copied and pasted from another website.

Key Takeaways

Copying and pasting the Website Terms of Use of another website is a risk that is not worth taking. To ensure that your site has an adequate and tailored set of conditions, relevant to your business, you should get legal advice. Contact LegalVision’s online lawyers to assist you with drafting a Website Terms of Use. Call us on 1300 544 755 or contact us on this page.

Annie Gunn

Next Steps

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