Reusable Example Privacy Policy and Terms of Use

By Kristopher A. Nelson in

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So you’ve decided your new Web site needs a privacy policy or terms of service. Why? Perhaps you are collecting personal information, or providing a service that visitors may come to depend on. (Or maybe you’re just a lawyer and obsessively use disclaimers, waivers, and contracts throughout your daily life. If you make your co-rec soccer opponents sign waivers before the game starts, I’m talking about you.)

Rather than write such documents from scratch, it can help to base it on someone else’s work. But while you can read most anyone’s policies and terms, technically such documents are covered by copyright protections just like your average Great American Novel (though a good deal less entertaining, I hope).

One might think that such documents are “useful articles,” and – like a bicycle rack/sculpture that was deemed too useful to be covered by a design copyright – should not be copyrightable. But, just like software, they are.

Fortunately, WordPress and parent company Automattic, famous providers of blogging software (which I don’t now do use, incidentally), have come to your rescue. Both their Terms of Use and their Privacy Policy are covered by a Creative Commons “attribution-share alike” license:

This makes them perfect to reuse and repurpose (but do not do so without seeking legal counsel as part of the process, since they need to be customized to your specific needs.) Such a starting place can make the whole process easier and more understandable (and therefore cheaper, since legal counsel is quite expensive). Kudos to Automattic and WordPress on this.

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