Website Terms of Use – You Mean People Actually Read Them?

June 3rd, 2008

Twitter and Adobe both got dinged this year for making statements in their Terms of Use that neither company exactly meant.  Twitter’s said that it reserved the right to “to warn and/or ban people who use their service to “abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users”.  Adobe’s gave Adobe a license to use any photos anyone edited with Photoshop Express online service- for any purpose.

When faced with a request to warn and/or ban an alleged Twitter stalker, Twitter realized it didn’t want to take such an aggressive editorial stance at all and would rather let users be responsible for their own content.  Adobe corrected itself to say it didn’t plan to use anyone’s photos for just anything, so both statements were really mistakes.

As others have pointed out, terms of use are not complicated.  They do need to be correct for the situation, though.  Twitter and Adobe probably just grabbed someone else’s terms without a lot of thought and got nailed on it.  AOL got nailed much worse by the Ninth Circuit for changing terms mid-stream without properly notifying users of its newly-acquired Talk America service.

The mild irony is that any good lawyer would also grab other sites’ terms of use, but instead of finding one set, s/he would take a look at a few sites, pick and choose the best/most applicable provisions and create something tailored to the site’s actual business.

All of which goes to prove the old saw- haste makes waste.  It frequently doubles the legal fees too.

Tags: ,
  • Comments Off on Website Terms of Use – You Mean People Actually Read Them?

Comments are closed.