Unfortunately the legal stuff is just part of the world we live in. If it’s not patents, it’s privacy laws (which aren’t a bad thing) or liability. Unless you have a lawyer in your friends or family for a bootstrapped startup or micro enterprise there usually isn’t much of an option to have your stuff drafted fresh.
We all know we need some legal agreements, in my Tools and Services to get your Business Started post I went over some of the tools and services we used to launch my company. Resgrid is a cloud service company providing logistics and management tools to first responder organizations like volunteer fire, career fire, EMS, search and rescue, public safety, disaster relief organizations, etc. It was founded in 2012 by myself and Jason Jarrett (staxmanade).
In that blog post I mentioned LawDepot. It’s a service we still use, the price is great and they have a good number of legal document generation tools. But they don’t cover everything, so we needed to look somewhere else for those.
As with any legal document you should always run them by your lawyer, it sucks, but there could easily be provisions in your local jurisdiction that can invalidate portions of the document.
WordPress: The great peeps at Automattic have put the WordPress Terms of Service out for your to use and licensed it under CC-BY-SA 3.0. You will have to do a lot of pruning with the WordPress terms, unless you a lot of user generated content. They also have their named programs in there that you will also have to prune and alter.
Hosted Privacy Polices
Dangers of using someone else’s terms or policies
- Outdated: Any agreement you choose can be outdated. Laws constantly change (politicians love adding new laws) and if you don’t stay on top of the legal landscape you can open yourself up to liability.
- Bad Terms: If your not a lawyer it can be very difficult to read these agreements. Are they binding your company, or you, to a term that you cannot meet? For example damages up to a certain dollar amount, or binding arbitration (you better figure out how to get an arbitrator just in case).
As with everything in this day and age the legal landscape is tilted to favor the large companies with deep pockets and the public. Small companies without a lot of money are a serious disadvantage to being pushed around by larger companies or lawyers looking for some easy wins. So use the generated agreements when you have to, then upgrade to a custom drafted one. I would recommend that you leverage someone else’s CC-BY-SA agreements and update it, helping out others just starting out and pay it forward.