Hunting for the Electronic Terms and Conditions that Apply to You

Legal terms and conditions have become so easy to publish that a commercial party is wise to hunt around for those of its trading partner.  The commercial party may be exposed to – and deemed to have agreed to – terms in a way that fails to draw the attention of management, though the terms are not really hidden.

On the modern Internet, terms like end user license agreements (EULAs) can lurk in innumerable places.

Crowdfunding Widget

I am helping a client that is building a service for crowdfunding.  My client wants to promote crowdfunding, recognizing there already exist popular web sites that support crowdfunding deals.
Meeting of the Minds

My client is looking to install widgets published by some of these popular sites, like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, and my client asked me what the rules are for these widgets.  Following is part of the advice I gave the client:

Study Ts & Cs

Client is wise to study any and all terms and conditions at places like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo  . . . wherever those Ts&Cs may appear.  Some of those terms (including possibly so-called "privacy" and other "policies") will appear as links from the home pages of those sites.

Terms can be complex.  Just as an example of how things can work . . . Facebook publishes general terms and conditions for general users, but it publishes special, additional terms and conditions for what it calls developers and operators of "platform applications."

Periodically Look Again for Revised Terms

Client is wise to hunt around for this kind of stuff.  Then, client is wise periodically to go look again because services like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo may change their terms or publish them in new places, without necessarily notifying client by email.

Terms and conditions can appear in places other than just links from the home page.   Perhaps there are terms on the page where a widget user downloads widget code (or on a page that provides instructions or FAQs for widget users); if terms appear there, they need to be studied.

Perhaps, as you install or configure a widget, terms pop up.  Again, client would be wise to study such terms.

Or, terms might be buried in widget code itself, in such a way that a programmer would see them but a dummy like me would never see them.

Record the Terms

When terms are discovered, client is wise to make a record of them.

Transparency is a Plus

Generally speaking, client is wise to be transparent about the Ts&Cs of other people.   If their terms are ambiguous, then ask them for clarification.

 If client sees some terms that arguably restrict what client is doing, then post your interpretation in an FAQ or blog article and invite comment.  Get the issue in the open.

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