Terms of Use help...
November 10, 2005 9:08 AM   Subscribe

is there a standard "terms of use" that i can use for a website that should legally cover use of my website.

i'm developing a website for local ornithologists to store data about bird sightings. it's not likely to have a very large userbase but all the same i feel i need to protect myself from any possible legal action for loss of data etc. (not that this should be a problem, but.. well you know how these things go)
since i have no access to anyone with any legal knowledge (nor can i afford to pay for it) i was wondering if there is a pre-written 'terms of use' that might cover most common things on a publically used website (stuff like a promise not to share email addresses with third parties, abuse of the system resulting in account closure etc).

also, is it even wise to post a 'terms of use' on a website without someone with legal experience in this sort of thing giving it the once over?
posted by tnai to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Creative Commons would offer the simplest solution. It avoids the need to know legalspeak and protects your work in whatever manner you choose. Just by adding a little image to the site, you get a "terms of use." Here are the different licenses.
posted by panoptican at 9:34 AM on November 10, 2005

panoptican, I don't think he was looking for a CC-style thing, which only covers potential reuse of stuff on the site. From the post, he's looking for something more like this (Amazon's "Conditions of Use").

I'm not aware of any boilerplate TOS texts; I'm also not sure if you really need one, particularly if it's just a simple view & post sightings type of site. At the end of the day, it's my understanding (though I'm not a lawyer) that since it's your site, you can basically do whatever you want when it comes to banning people, etc. Having written guidelines seems like something that's helpful (so people have some idea what is and is not allowed), but not required. After all, if I invite someone into my house, and kick them out (and ban them from it) because they use the word "it," for example, I'm within my rights to do that. I could kick them out just because I felt like it, too; I imagine that the same reasoning would apply to a website.

Again, though, I'm not a lawyer, so I can't say anything for certain on that subject.
posted by Godbert at 9:54 AM on November 10, 2005

This site from the OECD has a "Privacy Statement Generator" which might help with some of your users' concerns.
posted by patricio at 10:24 AM on November 10, 2005

thanks all. some good stuff to go on, there...
posted by tnai at 12:04 AM on November 11, 2005

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