At LegalVision, we often receive enquiries and phone calls from business owners and startups asking whether it is okay to copy and modify another website’s privacy policy, terms of service or terms and conditions in an effort to save money and time. Not only is this practice a breach of copyright, it also exposes your business and customers to risk and potential liability. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) do issue penalties to non-compliant sites that have terms which are confusing or misleading as a result of copying terms that do not apply to the actual website’s offering of products and services.

It is crucial to first understand why these documents are important to your business, and second, why it is not a good idea to copy them from another business, even if they are modified for your business.

Importance of Privacy Policy, Terms of Use and Terms and Conditions

A website’s privacy policy, terms of use or terms and conditions are binding legal contracts that you form with the users of your website. Whether they are read by your visitors or not, they govern what users do on your website, as well as what protection is offered to your business, including the intellectual property on your website and the collection of data.

If there is a breach of data, infringement of intellectual property or any claim against your website and business, these documents will be crucial in setting out the limitations, warranties and indemnities for your business. These documents have been relied upon in courts to determine rights and protections. It is crucial that your website has an appropriate and properly considered privacy policy, terms of use and terms and conditions on the website.

Protection of Your Business

A website’s privacy policy, terms of use and terms and conditions address many aspects of your online presence, including who owns the content on your website. This intellectual property protection varies from business to business, and by copying another website’s terms of use, they may offer less protection than you actually require, exposing your website to inadvertent rights to your content and data.

Moreover, data collection policies vary between businesses. For example, if you inadvertently copy another website’s privacy policy which offers no protection for personally identifying information, and a breach of data takes place, this may expose your business to severe penalties. Your website’s privacy policy should be tailored to your particular business and the services you offer. Copying terms of use and terms and conditions not only does a disservice to your users and customers, it could also severely damage your business.

Infringement of Copyright

By copying another website’s privacy policy, terms of use or terms and conditions, you are passing it off as your own – breaching copyright. These legal documents are protected under copyright law and copying these documents and posting it on your website as your own is considered copyright infringement.

Conclusion

LegalVision can assist you with drafting your website’s privacy policy, terms of use or terms and conditions. LegalVision has a team of great IT contract lawyers who can assist you. Please call our office on 1300 544 755 and our Client Care team will happily provide you with an obligation-free consultation and a fixed-fee quote.

Lachlan McKnight

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