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WEB HOSTING ARTICLES

A Brief Introduction to ToS and AUP Documents
By: Terri Wells
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    2006-07-26

    Table of Contents:
  • A Brief Introduction to ToS and AUP Documents
  • Why You Need These Documents
  • Putting Together ToS and AUP Documents
  • Getting Help

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    A Brief Introduction to ToS and AUP Documents - Putting Together ToS and AUP Documents


    (Page 3 of 4 )

    So how do you put together these very important documents? Ideally, you should get a lawyer to help you draw one up. It will save you a great deal of time and money, though, if you have some idea of what you want in your ToS and AUP before you go to the lawyer's office.

    You can start by looking at various ToS and AUP documents on the Internet and other places for inspiration; EarthLink, for example, is said to have a very good AUP. But you shouldn't end there. For one thing, these documents sometimes carry copyrights just like any other documents, and you can get into legal trouble if you plagiarize. But there are other reasons.

    To begin with, you aren't EarthLink, or a credit card company, or any other company whose ToS and AUP you've examined. What makes sense for them may not make sense for you. This is especially true if you're not even in the same field as the company whose ToS and/or AUP you've been reading. If the company is not a web host, it's very likely that its ToS and AUP do not cover the kinds of situations that crop up regularly in the web hosting industry. Copying such documents for your business would leave you almost worse off than not having them at all!

    Think carefully about what you can and can't provide for your customers, and the kind of behavior you do and do not expect from them. Look at other companies' ToS and AUP documents with those ideas firmly in mind. You will probably find that many of these documents, if lifted directly, would restrict your customers in ways you do not intend. For example, one company's Acceptable Use Policy restricts its customers from using "any software or hardware devices designed for the purpose of keeping a connection to the service open" because the company is concerned about its bandwidth resources. This may or may not be a serious issue for you; the point is, your own ToS and AUP should reflect your own situation.

    Even worse, you might find that using another company's ToS and AUP obligates you in ways you weren't planning. For example, they may include clauses about making back ups for customers or having the latest versions of software on your network. If these are matters for which you did not want to be responsible, it's yet another reason to make sure you are considering your own situation, and not lifting the ToS and AUP from somebody else.

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