Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Disclaimer Game, Part 2

As mentioned in part one, our website needs to have a Privacy Policy and Terms of Service before we open it to the public. Like most bootstrapped startups, however, we never seriously considered hiring an attorney to draft these legal disclaimers for us. Fortunately, the Web is chock full of examples, templates, and even generators that will come to your rescue.

After Mike and I did our research, we decided to use Automattic's privacy policy and terms of service, which are each available under a Creative Commons Sharealike license. In short, this means we are free to adapt the documents to our specific needs and to make commercial use of them. Automattic doesn't even require an attribution, though we are more than happy to oblige.

Unlike most of the other examples and templates available on the Web, these particular documents are being actively used, which adds a level of assurance that they will hold legal muster; in fact, Automattic uses them for widely visited websites, such as Wordpress.com. As they write:

"We spent a lot of money and time on [these documents], and other people shouldn’t need to do the same."

Another nice feature is the change log, which allows us to keep our privacy policy and terms of service in sync with theirs as they evolve over time. As Mike can attest, editing these documents will require some research as to which sections are actually applicable to your business, as well as which additions you will be required to make by third parties, such as any companies that run ads on your website.