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Advice: Terms of Service

Hey guys! I went through the TOS advice entries here and think I've covered my bases, but I'd like some second opinions.


There's the link. There's already a few minor cosmetic adjustments I'd like to do, such as having commissions, trades, and requests up at the top link to their respective sections. 

I'd really like some blunt advice and criticism, as well as suggestions. Does this TOS seem to scary, too unprofessional? Would reading this make you feel comfortable with commissioning me, or would it make you hesitate? I tend to have a hard time communicating what exactly I mean through text, so I want to make sure that this gets my intended points home.

Edit: Thank you so much for the replies. I am making these changes immediately - you have been very helpful! If anyone has any other suggestions, please keep making them. I really need pointers on how to be more clear and concise - knowing when to elaborate, how much to expand, and when it just needs to be a one sentence minimum. 

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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 8th, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
I haven't read your TOS very thoroughly, I will admit, but the thing that really struck me was your apologetic tone.

This is supposed to be a semi-legal document and you don't need to apologize to take care of your rights of ownership, or the steps that make you comfortable with accepting work from someone.

You are coming off as overly defensive right from the get go. If you want some examples of how to change this, I could pick out a few sentences for you and rewrite them with a more confident tone.

An aesthetic point, the black on white is really kind of boring and can be hard to read. Perhaps lay done at least a light tone on the background?

And finally, I would suggest keeping your TOS and preferred subject list separate. You don't want to have too much information on one page, as people are inherently lazy and kind of want to get to the good bits.

I hope that helps! c:
Oct. 9th, 2011 05:10 am (UTC)
I see most of these responses mention the apologetic tone. Since this is my normal speech pattern, I'm not quite picking up on that, so if you can elaborate on what is specifically being apologetic, I'll rectify that and learn from it.

I definitely would love to hear what bits are being overly defensive as well and how to correct them. I certainly don't want to come off as aggressive!

As for the aesthetics, I hadn't actually prettied up the page yet. I wanted to host it and share it for feedback, but yes, I do very much agree, it's bland!

I will definitely remove that then. I suppose that if they mention a subject that is do not want, I'll just tell them I can't do that. I try to not actually post a list, as there is so much stuff that I can't possibly come up with everything.

Thank you so so much! I really appreciate your honest feedback!
Oct. 9th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
Okay, I'm just gonna rewrite a few of these and hopefully that'll help! Feel free to look over my TOS (http://www.furaffinity.net/journal/790554/) or Farore Nightclaw's TOS (which I can't find right now I am just waking up @__@), I used hers to start out mine 3 years ago, and now mine's evolved to be something different, but I hear it's pretty concise and clear.

I also notice a lot of "you's" in your sentences. You want this to be kind of formal and professional, and not speak to a person directly. This is talking about a customer, not directly to the person. OH ALSO: this is kind of a personal pet peeve but some other people don't care and thats fine.

Commissioner: a person authorized to perform certain tasks or endowed with certain powers
2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) Government
a. any of several types of civil servant
b. an ombudsman
3. a member of a commission

Customer: 1. One that buys goods or services.

XD anyways...having to do this in 2 comments. XD

Oct. 9th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
- - -
Each commission is different, thus most of our dealings will be settled before any money is exchanged, such as payment options.

Changed to: I settle all details of a commission before payment is exchanged, please do not send a payment until prompted.

By commissioning me, once money has exchanged hands, you thereby agree to my Terms of Service written here, and both you, the commissioner, and I, the artist, are bound to what is written within. Should you be seriously considering a commission from me, I highly recommend you read this thoroughly and multiple times, and to ask me any questions before entering a transaction with me, as you agree to what is written here. Being unaware does not release you from this contract.

Changed to: By issuing a payment, the customer states that they have both read and agreed to the terms listed below. It is recommended to read this entire document at least once, and bring up any questions or concerns to me before sending a payment.

Disclaimer: I have the right to accept or reject any commission request for any circumstances. I am not required to divulge reasons for accepting/rejecting commission inquiries, nor my reasons for price. Please be understanding and accepting. I am a real person behind this text, with a real life and real circumstances. Please do not take offense to me saying no. I also retain all rights to my work, unless otherwise sold. I will sell prints of your commissions, and I will display them, unless agreed upon otherwise. I require all of my commissioners to be at least 18 years of age. If I suspect your age, I will ask for confirmation before accepting your commission. By not being 18 years old or older, as a minor, you are unable to enter into this contract with me.

Changed to bullet points:
*I have the right to accept or reject any commission request at any time. I also have the right to cancel a commission at any time. If this occurs, there is the possibility of a refund minus materials and time spent, taken on a case by case basis.
*I retain full rights and ownership to any artwork I create. I retain the right to make prints, CD's and other merchandise of any artwork I create. Copies may be made by the customer for Personal Use only.
*I only form business relationships with citizens of legal age. If I suspect a customer is under the legal age of 18 in the US, I will ask for proof of age.

What I do
I would really just put this in another document all together and link it at the top or bottom of your TOS. I suggest against saying "Hey I'm bad at _______" because it really does look unprofessional. I suggest doing some studies and pushing yourself to be better at whatever you feel you are weak at, and if I customer says all on their own that they want something you aren't super confident at, you should let them know then before money has crossed hands.

Due to copyrights, I cannot accept commissions for characters such as Stitch, Toothless, Donald Duck, or any others. Contact me about these characters, and perhaps we can work something out.

Changed to:
Licensed or Trademarked Characters.
Due to legal restrictions. I do not do art containing licensed or trademarked characters such as Disney, Pokemon or otherwise. I may be able to do something privately, but as a rule, I do not.

I love working from G rated work to mature works involving blood or suggestive themes. However, should you wish for more "enticing" content, I am up for it, but will not be posting it to my public galleries. There are also themes in that spicy area that I have never tried to draw or do not wish to draw. Please ask.

Changed to:
I do not post adult work, nor do I want it posted under my name. I prefer to stick with a G-PG13 rating, though I do not mind working with blood or gore. Art of a sexual nature will need to be discussed on a case by case basis.

- - - -

I hope that helps! c:
Oct. 9th, 2011 01:50 am (UTC)
A technical note first: The links in the document are relative rather than absolute, resulting in them not working when clicked. Add "http://" to the beginning of the hrefs to fix that.

Regarding content:

First impression--it's rather long. You want to provide a lot of information, I understand, but being more concise will help ensure that people actually read it all. You could cut out a lot of words without losing any actual meaning in many places--for example, your communication section could be boiled down to a couple of lines, I think: Business communication only, no phone calls for any reason, you're only available Friday through Sunday.

Explaining that you have the right to refuse a commission and whatnot strikes me as unneeded and, as sigilgoat says, apologetic. (The people who don't realize that you have free will probably aren't reading your TOS anyway! :P) And given the length of the whole thing, I'd also agree with putting your will/won't draw list elsewhere. Focus the TOS on business details, discuss content elsewhere unless you shorten everything up a lot.
Oct. 9th, 2011 05:14 am (UTC)
Oh, I will definitely fix that!

What is a good way to know when you need to be long winded on certain things and what you really can sum up in just a few sentences? You're right - that was a lot of reading for me to tell people that I'm generally busy with classes until those days.

Truth. I added that defense in the hopes to ward off those who think of artists as robots who do anything or they are big meanie heads. But you're very right, it isn't needed!

Thank you very much! I appreciate this a lot! Any additional feedback you think of, please let me know!
Oct. 9th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
I see you've asked in a few places how you can know when you're being too wordy. That's difficult to quantify! Try to keep in mind that a TOS is ultimately reference material, not an essay or a letter. This is a document that people might want to refer back to later, so it's better that the information be plainly available and not hidden among conversational padding.

You say you don't want to come across as unfriendly, and that's a good impulse, but I wouldn't worry about it too much in this particular document--a TOS is supposed to be a little sterile, I think. :P You can be more conversational during direct contact with your customers, if you prefer, and that is what people will judge your friendliness on.

That's my opinion, anyway.

Lots of good advice is coming in from many people. Are you planning to post a revised version for further review?
Oct. 11th, 2011 10:34 am (UTC)
I definitely will edit the post when I update it with these revisions! I really appreciate your help - you're right! It's just a reference to what they should expect, not an indepth, one-sided discussion!
(Screened comment)
Oct. 9th, 2011 05:04 am (UTC)
I've changed the first few sections to give an example of how i'd simplify and shorten it. I hope I dont come across as rude and know-it-all! (cuz im not! :P)

It is important that you read and familiarize my Terms of Service, as once money changes hands, you are bound by my terms of service.

Disclaimer: I have the right to refuse commissions without reason. Commissioners must be over the age of 18. I retain all right to my work unless sold. I may sell prints of your commissions, and can display them, unless agreed upon otherwise.

You could put “don’t take offence to a refusal for commission. It may simply be that I am not confident enough to draw your character”, but it adds more clutter.

What I do

Subject Matter

I am best at animals, particularly canine and quadrupedal. I am comfortable with landscapes... looks fine, BUT...
^^^ This should go elsewhere. It does not relate specifically to terms of service, so keep it out.

Due to copyrights, I cannot accept... Contact me about these characters, and perhaps we can work something out.
^^ This kind of belongs here, but it kind of doesn’t. The last sentence comes across dodgey though. I assume you mean art trades, or changing the character so it’s 10% different and getting around the trademark issue, but it comes across really dodgey. Don’t put it in your TOS

I love working from G... looks fine, BUT
^ again, isn’t really ToS.

Requesting a Quote

Prices vary for every commission. Please send a quote request to reiynstormstudio@gmail.com or “muddy” on furaffinity.net
“Commission Quote” must be included in the subject line.
What I need from you:

Is your commission for personal... fine

An in-depth description of your commission, including visual references. Your reference needs to clearly depict what your character looks like, including any markings or colouration.
I *can* work based off of descriptions alone... you may be looking for.
^^^ I would not include this part. If your art is good enough, people (who aren’t total morons who talk in leet speek and without punctuation) will contact you anyway, asking if you can do a commission for them even though they don’t have drawn references. My eBay explicitly says no international shipping, and people still email me asking if I can ship to them, which I do. If you include this people might not include proper refs “because they don’t have to”.

vvv my problem with this is the same as above. You’re going to get people who contact you and don’t really know what they want either way. I understand why you’ve put it here, but I don’t think it needs to be included. It’s not bad though, and it’s fine if you keep it there.
When telling me what you want, you may be as vague or specific as you'd like. I do best with a middle ground. A theme, a slight... rest of this looks fine

As the last part of your quote... looks fine
Please keep all of this to... looks fine
My quotes are valid for... looks fine

Payment and Due dates
Payments will be made via paypal to reiynstormstudio@gmail.com. In extenuating circumstances, I may take money orders. I will never accept personal cheques or money via the mail.
All medium to large commissions... fine
When paying via Paypal.. this is good but does it belong in TOS? Or an instruction page?
All medium to large commissions... good but is it ToS?
Unless otherwise worked out... good. Cant decide if this is tos or instructions tho.
^ This bit’s cluttering up your TOS.

Original Artwork
Looks fine
Permissions (What you can do with the work)
Looks fine
Commission Cancellations
Looks fine.

Looks good except this para:
What’s with the word approval at the end? vvv
Unless requested upon beginning of the project...per sketch for free. Approval.

Looks good. But make them pay you if they don’t deliver also. “Should I not receive my half within xyz days after my half has been completed, and no prior arrangement has been made, I will consider my work for you as a commission, and you will be charged accordingly” <- unless you are nice!

Not needed. Remove.

Hope that helps ><

Oct. 9th, 2011 05:08 am (UTC)
Look at that, I've got it wrong in the first line...

It is important that you read and familiarize my Terms of Service, as once money changes hands, you are bound by my terms of service.

It is important that you read and familiarize yourself with my Terms of Service, as once money changes hands, you are bound by my terms of service.

Whoops >< Well I hope you can piece together what I mean. In short, I'd have a different page for how to pay you, a diff page for what you're good at drawing, a diff page for the steps you take along the way and where the artist gets to make changes, and make sure the TOS is just stuff like, pay by here, dont steal my art, dont be a loser.

Oct. 9th, 2011 06:15 am (UTC)
This was incredibly helpful - thank you very much. You were not offensive at all. I need it said to me straight! :)
Oct. 9th, 2011 06:13 am (UTC)
I will go through and make things more concise! Do you have any tips for knowing when you need to expand/elaborate, and when you need things to be straight to the point?

This is a very good idea. I hadn't quite gotten around to formatting, but you're correct - at this stage it is a bit jumbled.

Yikes! I'm sorry that that came off as scary! Thank you for being honest about that, I will change that. I didn't realize I was interjecting personal life in there. Shouldn't write my TOS at 4am! I am very concerned that I am being long winded and injecting personal life. If you have any feedback at all as to how to catch when something may be straying from the professional, straight business line of contact, please tell me. I'm trying to find a good medium between being friendly and transparent, but firm and professional. I know some commissioners can feel very off-kilter with an artist who might not seem warm enough towards them, and I don't want to be alienating. However, I'd rather be professional and alienating than run the more professionally minded clients away.

I'm the type that tends to buy materials on a project by project basis. Would it be better for me to suggest materials I have experience with, rather than a list of can and can't's? I can work in whatever media they prefer, size and surface as well. Or does having a defined list of mediums help the commissioner more? On this note, I'd be thinking that I should likely remove this section from my TOS entirely. I didn't think of putting sample work in my TOS, but wherever I move this materials/mediums/size information to, I will most certainly include samples.

As for revisions, I put in there I do one edit per stage. So if I gave you a sketch and the ear was too far forward for your liking and you want the tail to arc instead of hang, that is the one time edit. It may have gotten hidden or lost in translation in my long winded typing. In other words, they either approve it or tell me to fix x, y, and z. I fix it and continue on. There is one chance for them to tell me everything that is wrong with it, and if I go to make fixes and they notice something else, I can't keep spending time changing and changing. Is this a good policy, or should I allow a few more chances for revision? I initially chose to do only one revision per step to cut down on the amount of time it takes to complete the commission. Typing out these responses really helps me work through what is needed to be said and what can be removed, so I will definitely make what I was initially saying more concise and clear.

On to your direct points commentary. You're right. There's a lot of conflicting quips in there that need reordered, labeled, or removed. Upon further thought, I will definitely put my do's/don'ts in list format. Usually, multiple character commissions are couples works, but I haven't been commissioned for couples pieces before, so I wouldn't be sure how to handle such a situation, as I do know that it can happen that someone would not have permission. I'm working on coming up for a solution to that problem right now. It'd probably be best if any adult artwork has the consent of both parties. It gets tricky if the work is a gift. I'll have to spend some time on that and see what other artists do and get back to you on that!

Skimming over the rest, I completely agree and will make those changes. On the communication section, I did consider e-mail only, and initially had it at that, and decided to open it to e-mails or notes. But that is a really good point - I'll just stick with e-mails.

Trades TOS as a separate page is probably a good idea.

Thank you thank you. I really really appreciate how straightforward you were.
Oct. 9th, 2011 01:12 pm (UTC)
Some additional info
I like the idea of suggesting materials.

A defined list though would be very helpful, especially for traditional. A cool artist might work in a medium I want, but because it's not stated, I might not realize that.

I'd suggest ask other artists what they would suggest is a good number for revisions?

The part that came across as too personal to me was listing what times you check your e-mail/your real life schedule under the communications section. It would read less personal to me, if you said something like, "Due to my schedule, I can only show WIP images on the weekends."

Sending images over text also felt rather personal to me, as well. I've never dealt with an artist who wanted to send WIP images as text messages, and if an artist I was commissioning said they were going to send stuff to me over text I would request e-mail please.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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