Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual Property Law Questions? Ask a Lawyer

Ask a Lawyer,
Get an Answer ASAP!

Intellectual Property Law
This answer was rated:

Are Terms of Use (TOU) agreements on websites copyrighted

? I am starting a...
Are Terms of Use (TOU) agreements on websites copyrighted ? I am starting a website similar to craigslist in that there are postings by users. No downloadable TOU form covers the situation of postings. The craigslist TOU is excellent, and I could paraphrase and modify it. But is it copyrighted? On the craigslist site I can find no specific mention of it being copyrighted. May I use it? Your legal view?
Show More
Show Less
Ask Your Own Intellectual Property Law Question
Answered in 15 minutes by:
3/11/2009
Jane T (LLC)
Jane T (LLC), Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 8,435
Experience: Worked closely with the Intellectual Property areas of a law firm and a major U.S. corp.
Verified

DearCustomer

 

The rule of thumb under common law in the US is that even if something is not officially copyrighted through the US Copyright office just placing it into a written form (recorded form, etc.) provides it copyright protection of a kind. Further, just because one website page may not indicate it is copyrighted that does not mean that elsewhere on a site a statement regarding a reservation of all rights, including copyright, is not posted (and that too would likely be enforceable). In addition to this, Terms of Use (ToU) are legal contracts and normally should be specifically written for a website because, if a website that is copying a ToU does not follow exactly the same format, operations, information use, user policies, and everything else a ToU may refer to on the original site (including other legal terms or contracts on the original website) just copying it may be entirely ineffective for protection of any kind and may even be harmful if it misrepresents anything or fails to discuss something the "copying" website does.

 

 

Jane T (LLC)
Jane T (LLC), Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 8,435
Experience: Worked closely with the Intellectual Property areas of a law firm and a major U.S. corp.
Verified
Jane T (LLC) and 87 other Intellectual Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Ask your own question now
Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Jane - Thank you. On your last point, I wouldn't copy it all. I bought and downloaded a TOU, but it doesn't have about 6 paragraphs I need that cover posting of ads. I wouldn't copy even those from craigslist, but would paraphrase, fitting to exactly what I am doing. But you suggest that even this runs afoul of a copyright. My choices: ask craigslist if I can use it (unlikely they'd say yes), pay some attorney a boatload for something that should be off-the-shelf since we are not breaking any new legal ground here, or ... What? Know where there would be TOU language applicable to ad posting, and not copyrighted? I'd pay a modest sum to download, and I'm no dummy, and could fit standard language into my situation. Your thoughts?/

DearCustomer

 

There were two parts to my original post. The first deals with the copyright issue and ends with the words "too would likely be enforceable)." The part about the copying of someone else's ToU is a part of contract and ebusiness law. Actually, the reason to have an attorney write a ToU, just like having an attorney write a contract for something like selling a boat, business or something that has been done a hundred times before, is NOT because "new legal ground" is being broken but because every use and every website is unique and the dangers, risks, and protections it needs are unique. Copy, or paraphrasing something (even if it avoids a copyright violation as it is different enough) may lead to a situation where a person ends up with something that not only fails to provide them appropriate protection but which actually makes them liable for failure to follow their own policies, misrepresentation, failure to protect consumers, and anything else.

 

The reasons contract are written the way they are is because of the importance courts, and the law, place on language. Language that many may believe provides a clear explanation for their purposes may utterly fail to provide a legally enforceable term. For example, some may thing a term "Notify seller of any problems to cancel contract." would be sufficient to let a buyer off the hook if he/she has a problem, but probably not. For one thing, what is a "problem" (does anything else in the contract define it?). Second, how is that "notice" supposed to be delivered? If that is not spelled out then a court has to figure out if the "delivery" made was "reasonable" and if the "notice" contained sufficient language to be enforceable? The point of the example is to show how specific,accurate, and important language becomes in law. I was shocked when a law professor explained that cases have been lost based on how a comma was used or inappropriately placed in a contract. That may seem small, but it is accurate.

 

Coming up with one's own language may be simple, but assuring the language one uses means what one thinks it means, in the legal world, is a far more difficult matter. It can take me a week to write a "simple" contract of just a page or two, even where no new legal ground is broken. That is because assuring the language does not fail in its purpose or later create more problems than it avoids is difficult, even for a person with a legal degree.

 

I have seen sights that do provide ToU, Privacy policies, etc. (although I cannot remember the names of any at this time). These sites normally suggest anything created be run by an attorney and, preferably that would be an attorney who is knowledgeable in the area of cyberlaw or ebusiness or technology law.

 

 

Ask Your Own Intellectual Property Law Question
Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Although I'm not a lawyer, I've worked with corporate contract lawyers for a few decades when I worked in a larger company. I put together major contracts, combining my knowledge of the business side specifications with more standard liability, termination, choice of law and other parts, and THEN ran it by an attorney, paying for only an hour or two of attorney time, rather than a week had I turned the full job over to an attorney. I would like to do that here. In any case, you have answered my question, and I will pay. Unfortunately, I still do not have a path to a solution, but I thank you.

DearCustomer

 

I have reviewed contracts have drafted and sometimes it is better and less expensive, but not always. Because ebusiness is a fairly new area there is little "precedent" to fall back on and things can change with new court decisions. I just wanted to be sure the reply included the risks of copying or creating own language.

 

Thank you for using JA.

 

 

Ask Your Own Intellectual Property Law Question
Ask Jane T (LLC) Your Own Question
Jane T (LLC)
Jane T (LLC)
Jane T (LLC), Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 8,435
8,435 Satisfied Customers
Experience: Worked closely with the Intellectual Property areas of a law firm and a major U.S. corp.

Jane T (LLC) is online now

A new question is answered every 9 seconds

How JustAnswer works:

  • Ask an ExpertExperts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional AnswerVia email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction GuaranteeRate the answer you receive.

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises!

Gary B.Edmond, OK

My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer.

EricRedwood City, CA

I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight.

MichaelWichita, KS

PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent.

Three H.Houston, TX

Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!!

ElaineAtlanta, GA

It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem.

TonyApopka, FL

Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help.

Mary C.Freshfield, Liverpool, UK

< Previous | Next >

Meet the Experts:

Alex Reese

Alex Reese

Lawyer

3,106 satisfied customers

Experienced in intellectual property law

Robert McEwen, Esq.

Robert McEwen, Esq.

Lawyer

848 satisfied customers

Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney

Dimitry K., Esq.

Dimitry K., Esq.

Attorney

561 satisfied customers

I assist my clients with IP questions that arise in their daily course of doing business.

Thomas Swartz

Thomas Swartz

Lawyer

459 satisfied customers

Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.

Ely

Ely

Counselor at Law

450 satisfied customers

Licensed attorney in private practice.

Wilton A. Person

Wilton A. Person

Lawyer

352 satisfied customers

MBA, Experienced and Knowledgeable in Intellectual Property Law

BartEsq

BartEsq

Researcher

192 satisfied customers

Juris Doctor

< Previous | Next >

Related Intellectual Property Law Questions
I just finished my 1st cd that i need to get copyrighted
I just finished my 1st cd that i need to get copyrighted asap and trademark my record label's name.how much will the copyright&trademark cost and to start doing shows,selling c.d.s,etc... legally what… read more
Alex Reese
Alex Reese
Lawyer
JD
3,106 satisfied customers
A Californian artist has infringed a copyrighted photograph
A Californian artist has infringed a copyrighted photograph of mine published in a book in 1994. She copied my photograph without authorisation, without credit and without payment. Her website indicat… read more
socrateaser
socrateaser
1,031 satisfied customers
Copyright law/publishing rights question. I am considering
Copyright law/publishing rights question. I am considering entering a short story writing contest offered by the publisher of an existing fiction series and buddy of the author. The stories must relat… read more
Alex Reese
Alex Reese
Lawyer
JD
3,106 satisfied customers
I am looking for an literary/copyright attorney to represent
I am looking for an literary/copyright attorney to represent me against a very well known music artist. My complaint is.... I worked on this persons autobiography for 4 years compiling stories and int… read more
N Cal Atty
N Cal Atty
Doctoral Degree
59 satisfied customers
I have a question regarding the trademarks and copyright of
I have a question regarding the trademarks and copyright of Adobe Systems, Inc. I understand that their name, "Adobe" is a trademark, and the question I have is, would it be an infringement upon Adobe… read more
Alex Reese
Alex Reese
Lawyer
JD
3,106 satisfied customers
If I want to revise a copyright, can I use the electronic
If I want to revise a copyright, can I use the electronic Copyright Office [eCO] or do I have to use the regular form?… read more
socrateaser
socrateaser
1,031 satisfied customers
My question is concerning copyright law. (I think) I am a
My question is concerning copyright law. (I think) I am a graphic artist I draw photorealistic portraits in graphite, charcoals and color pencil. I would like to begin offering fantasy composit portra… read more
PaulmoJD
PaulmoJD
Attorney At Law
Doctoral Degree
106 satisfied customers
Re: copyright infringement. The company who created and
Re: copyright infringement. The company who created and hosts my business website used an image on my site, which was taken from a disk that was public domain. I received notification from a company (… read more
Roger
Roger
Litigation Attorney
Doctoral Degree
26,807 satisfied customers
I just made my own website and put a 2017 copyright symbol
I just made my own website and put a 2017 copyright symbol at the bottom of the page is that sufficient or do I have to register the website. If so, how much does it cost? … read more
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,959 satisfied customers
I have a copyright on "let there be light" can the new movie
I have a copyright on "let there be light" can the new movie use my title? Book and movie are about religion … read more
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,959 satisfied customers
What constitutes copyright infringement? If I find someone
What constitutes copyright infringement? If I find someone else's explanation answer to a question, and I read that explanation, and then develop my own explanation perhaps with different wording will… read more
Alex Reese
Alex Reese
Lawyer
JD
3,106 satisfied customers
Copyright lawyer. I am giving a talk and preparing a
This question is for a copyright lawyer. I am giving a talk and preparing a powerpoint presentation. I found an image on the internet I want to use to illustrate a point. When searching for the image,… read more
Roy Hadavi
Roy Hadavi
Attorney
Juris Doctorate
896 satisfied customers
I authored a novel in 1982. I own the copyright. There was
I authored a novel in 1982. I own the copyright. There was some trouble with the publisher, which bankrupted one division. My copyright attorney at that time negotiated an agreement that they would no… read more
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
5,959 satisfied customers
I am an international in America. I wish to copyright my
I am an international in America. I wish to copyright my material. What is the safest site to do it on? … read more
N Cal Atty
N Cal Atty
Doctoral Degree
59 satisfied customers
Need copyright 21 words and small sketch cost? It is a tech
need copyright 21 words and small sketch cost ? JA: What written documentation do you have? Customer: It is a tech document JA: Have you talked to a local attorney? Has anything been filed in court? C… read more
Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz
Lawyer
Juris Doctor
459 satisfied customers
I went through Legal Zoom for copyright and Trademark
Hello, I went through Legal Zoom for copyright and Trademark protection on my patent pending product. The U,S,P.T.O. approved "Life" on my submission for "Life Head Gear". … read more
Robert McEwen, Esq.
Robert McEwen, Esq.
Lawyer
Doctoral Degree
848 satisfied customers
Do you handles the copyright violation case in the little
Hi Pearl, do you handles the copyright violation case in the little rock, AR … read more
N Cal Atty
N Cal Atty
Doctoral Degree
59 satisfied customers
This question concerns trademark/copyright of street
This question concerns trademark/copyright of street photography. Hello. I live in Austin, TX. I have been working on a street photography project in which I shoot recognizable local businesses and si… read more
Gerald, Esq
Gerald, Esq
Juris Doctor
3,039 satisfied customers

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

Show MoreShow Less

Ask Your Question

x