So, let’s talk about it.
I first began researching this due to my upcoming offerings. I know that I need to have certain legal in place— PUBLICLY, ON MY SITE— in order to feel safe, protected, and free to really give IT (and give YOU) MY ALL, without any hesitations or worries.
So, I started researching.
What I learned… (NEWSFLASH…)
For BEST protection, there are THREE documents you want to have on your site. These are often referred to as The Big Three:
• Website Disclaimer
Here’s what ELSE I discovered…
There’s a template (or package of templates) available at EVERY price point.
Different templates are geared to different niches.
Whatever business you are in, you can bet there is a generalized template for that! Depending on what you offer, and what you need to protect, you will want to have certain, specific language in place— language that suits your unique offerings. Depending on your niche, there will be certain templates that will be more attuned to your specific needs in the language they use. Check out the site’s specialties and read into their intended audience before you make your final decisions. Doing so may save you some time and money down the road, because if you start out with templates that more closely speak to your niche NOW, it will likely require less customization LATER. (In the resource list below, several lawyers specialize in templates for creative entrepreneurs. So, PLEASE read the sites thoroughly.)
Research is non-negotiable, no matter how “boilerplate” an agreement you think you can get away with.
Most template purveyors won’t send you a copy of the document for your perusal before you buy it.
How do you know what you’re buying? Agreements are written in all different ways, and geared to all different needs.
Ways to investigate BEFORE you buy:
• Check to see if they have any client testimonials on their site.Then, Google the testimonial-givers’ sites and read through THEIR legal. Can you generally envision it as your own?
• Look up Facebook Profiles and Business Pages. Does the template purveyor have a FB Group? What are people are saying about their services and their templates? This is also a good place to check for the lawyer’s own activity and visibility. Are they accessible? Are they answering questions? When was the last time they posted?
The elephant in the room…
Reworking someone else’s legal (and using it for your own site)
Lastly, I want to address cutting-and-pasting other people’s website legal statements from their web sites, altering them slightly to your needs, and using it as your own.
This is just not a good idea. Here are three of the biggest reasons why.
1) It’s stealing.
Yeah, legal statements are heavy on the jargon. And many of them look almost identical, right? So it may “feel” less like stealing than it really should. But, guess what? It’s still stealing someone else’s content that doesn’t belong to you.
2) It’s illegal.
Sites that clearly state their policies and terms ALSO mention somewhere that, by virtue of simply USING the web site, you are agreeing not to steal or otherwise copy and repost any content from their site without their permission. If you do, you are liable. Yes, the legal stuff counts, even if it sounds like it was created by a robot. If they see that you have used their legal, you’re liable.
3) It’s potentially harmful to you (in another way).
Rewriting or revising existing legal language to our needs can range from moderately challenging to outright dangerous, for most of us. So, if you were to take an existing set of terms or legal language from someone else’s site and trying to retro-fit it to your own needs without the help of an attorney, that’s dubious, any way you look at it. Without knowing it, you could also be helping to incriminate your own self as well, if you use language in the wrong way.