Iowa intellectual property lawyer Brett Trout has a terrific post on IowaBiz illustrating why it is dangerous to steal online contracts.  Brett says,

I have seen companies steal terms of use agreements and privacy policies from websites that have nothing to do with their line of business. Not even taking the time to read the contracts, they unwittingly leave in the original company’s name, address and preferred jurisdiction. An Iowa company looks pretty awkward explaining to a court why their contract dispute should be tried in Albuquerque.

Terms in contracts are construed against the drafter. If you leave in an ambiguity, the court will read it in favor of the people suing you. That is why lawyers take such care in customizing contracts to your business and its goals.

Sometimes it is almost laughable how many companies copy the terms of use and other online policies of major Web sites.  In doing some research for an online auction company I noticed several of the companies I researched had the same online policies.  Was it just coincidence the policies were strikingly similar to eBay?  Well, I guess if it ain’t broke . . .

Even if you use standard terms of use policies and other online policies you will need some customization for your particular business needs.  Discuss with your lawyer whether he or she has standards forms that can be customized for your business.  Most eCommerce lawyers have such forms.  But it is a good practice to avoid directly copying the terms of use and other online policies of other companies.