Terms of Service
Terms of Service are an agreement between you and your user. It sets the terms and conditions of the use of your product.
When signing up (or using it without signing up), you want to set certain conditions about the use of the product. That’s where ToS come handy.
With the ToS you tell the user: “Hey user, I’m glad you are signing up, but you need to accept these terms and conditions. I can’t let you use my product if you don’t accept my terms. Take it or leave it.”
Yes, ToS are non-negotiable. You just give the users the choice between accepting and leaving. But this doesn’t mean that you cannot offer different terms to some of the users.
Enterprise-tier clients usually require a custom agreement. They will want to negotiate certain parts of the agreement with you. They’ll have lots of money to spend, so you’ll be willing to negotiate, too.
But for the clients that pay anything from a few dollars to whatever is below the Enterprise-tier level, you offer non-negotiable ToS on signing up or right before checkout.
ToS are not obligatory by the law. You won’t be punished if you don’t have one in place.
But, operating your project without ToS means that your users use your product without a written contract in place.
If your users pay for your product, though, you may need to have some written statements regarding the transaction. In such a case, ToS are a convenient way to make such statements.
Everything may go well without ToS, though, but you may also have legal headaches in the future.
What kind of legal headaches?
It depends on your product. Here are a few examples to give an idea:
You may build a Zapier-like tool that somehow failed to send all the data to the other app and the user has suffered damages due to incorrect data. You are responsible, but if your Terms and conditions limit your liability, you’ll get by for cheap.
You have built a fitness tracking app. Your copy says: “Use this app to get a six-pack”. Users expect the app to get them in shape, but it doesn’t, and they sue you. It is a frivolous lawsuit that you’ll likely win, but still it will drag you to court.
You sell a photo-editing app that someone uses for bullying. Angry parents of bullied kids think you should be held responsible. However, if using your app for bullying purposes is against your Terms and Conditions, you are not responsible.
What to include in the ToS to avoid legal headaches?
Again, it depends on your product, but you should at least have:
What you provide (the product) and what should the user do to get it (sign up, pay…)
Conditions of use of the product (and what is prohibited)
Intellectual property clauses
Limitations of your liability
Termination of contract
When to get ToS?
It is in your best interest to have them as soon as you put anything on the internet.
It is highly recommendable to have them as soon as you ask for money for the product. You may be obliged to have it at this point, depending on the product.
It is a must to have them as soon as things get serious. At this point it is nice to get to have them tailored to your business.
Where to get ToS?
Online ToS generator. This is the most convenient way for indie hackers - affordable, fast, and get you covered. Some do a very good job. I cannot recommend a specific generator.
Lawyer. They also use templates, but you'll have a human being thinking about your business when drafting it. It can be quite expensive. Having your existing ToS reviewed by a lawyer (instead of drafted) is less expensive.
DO NOT Copy ToS from another website. It is a copyright infringement and may hurt your business.
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