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Online Terms of Use – What Should We Include?

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about online terms of useThis post about online terms of use is based on a Quora question that I answered today. The question and my answer are reproduced with minor edits below.

Q. What things should I include in an online terms of use agreement for a new internet startup?

A. Assuming that your lawyer is experienced at drafting terms of use, s/he will be able to contribute the required knowledge of relevant legal issues.

Your input is critical with respect to the specific needs of your business:

  • Identify the various classes of users of your site.
  • For each class, describe the business relationship between users and your site / business. Include risks and other issues that particularly concern you.
  • Examine the terms of use for similarly-situated existing sites to uncover additional issues that you may not have thought of on your own.

Don’t try drafting terms of use provisions yourself to give your lawyer a “head start”. In my experience, there is only one time that a client took that route when my review and edits took about the same amount of time as creating the terms of use myself would have. Every other time, cleaning up and adding to the client’s proposed terms took much longer because those terms were a jumbled mess of incomplete, imprecise provisions and inconsistent terminology.

Check out all posts about Online Terms.

Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law  +1 510 547-0545  dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.

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Online Terms