Can I Cut & Paste Terms & Conditions from Someone Else’s Website?

The short answer is – No! Don’t cut & paste someone else’s material on your website – it can cause a lot of problems.

It is never a good idea to use someone else’s terms and conditions on your website.   For a start, this is likely to be a breach of copyright and the owner of the other website could bring proceedings against you. Moreover, no two businesses are exactly the same and using someone else’s wording, without carefully checking that it is appropriate for your business, can cause real problems.

Seaborne Freight – Copied Terms

A good example of foolish cut & paste activity appeared this week: Seaborne Freight, a company which has just been awarded a £14 million government contract to run a ferry service from Ramsgate if there is a no-deal Brexit, appears to have used the terms and conditions from a fast food delivery business on its website! (Perhaps it is lucky that they don’t yet have any ferries or there might have been some interesting claims!)

Website Regulations Go Beyond T&Cs

While those terms have now been removed following press reports, at the time of writing (Jan 2019), Seaborne Freight’s website still doesn’t contain all the information needed under current legislation (e.g. the company registration number). Also, their Terms and Conditions do not seem to have been checked before being uploaded: they contain a meaningless sentence and one section appears twice. Ironically, however, those terms say that copying their material is strictly prohibited… really they should have downloaded ContractStore’s template Website & Legal Notices and indeed, still could.

At ContractStore we supply template contracts and terms of business but we always make it clear to our customers that they should adapt the document for their particular business and, if necessary, get legal advice. And we provide detailed explanatory notes to assist the customer.

Anyone who copies material from another website risks a claim being brought against them by the copyright owner. Although the web contains millions of pages, it is not difficult to find copyright material that is being used without authority. There have been several cases on this in recent years and, in my experience, as a lawyer, I have seen two examples this week – in one case the copier even included a couple of typos which made it that much easier to demonstrate the breach of copyright.