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COTAP’s Terms of Use

Welcome to Carbon Offsets To Alleviate Poverty (“COTAP”), a California non-profit corporation (together with its officers, directors, agents, employees, partners and their respective affiliates, collectively, “COTAP”).  This Terms of Use (“Agreement”) is a contract between you (“you”) and COTAP and governs all transactions between you and COTAP, as well as your use of the COTAP.org website (the “Website”) and all COTAP services. By using the Website, you agree to be bound by this Agreement, whether or not you become a donor, directly or indirectly participate in COTAP’s offsetting program (the “Program”) or otherwise use the Website (in each such capacity, as a “User”). If you wish to participate in the Program or otherwise become a User of the Website, you must read all of these Terms and Conditions in, and linked to, this Agreement (including the Privacy Policy). If you do not agree with all of these terms and conditions, please do not participate in the Program or use this Website.

1) Program Participation. COTAP pools contributions (“Contributions”) from you and other Users and matches those pooled funds with accredited forestry carbon projects in least developed regions which benefit rural community members (“Beneficiaries”) through direct payments and contributions into community trust funds from which the Beneficiaries benefit.

2) No Guarantee. COTAP retains the ultimate authority to use your Contributions at its discretion for purposes consistent with its exempt purposes.  COTAP’s forestry carbon partners (“Partners”) and projects (“Projects”), which have unique and compelling ability to reach and economically benefit rural communities in least developed regions, entail a variety risks, including but not limited to force majeure events (including but not limited to floods, wildfires, severe storms, droughts, pest infestations or tree disease, acts of terrorism, declared acts of war, civil unrest, and any other events which are not foreseeable by or under the reasonable control of COTAP ), currency exchange, and counterparty risks.  Accordingly, while COTAP aims to deploy your Contributions as directed by you, we are unable to guarantee that will be the case.  COTAP will track Projects’ carbon sequestration and socioeconomic performance and report them to you on approximately an annual basis.

Whereas Contributions will be allocated to projects as specified by Users (and subject to availability as outlined in Section 5), the same treatment is not given to contributions arising from any User’s employer’s donation matching program(s).  Except where explicitly otherwise stated as part of a specific employer/partner campaign, employer matching contributions stemming from a User’s Contribution will be utilized at COTAP’s sole discretion, in an unrestricted manner, and in accordance with its mission.  Except where explicitly otherwise stated as part of a specific employer/partner campaign, both the employer and the concerned User are unable to stipulate the purpose for which the employer’s matching contribution may be utilized.

In instances where a COTAP Partner or Project fails to generate projected carbon sequestration and/or socioeconomic benefits, COTAP will at its sole discretion pursue a variety of countermeasures and remedies, including but not limited to:

  • Withholding collected funds from Partners pending corrective actions.
  • Having a Partner replace failed plantings with additional plantings from the same or subsequent planting season.
  • Having a Partner replace failed contracted tonnes with those from a similar Project, which may or may not be in the same geographic location.
  • Replacing tonnes with those from other Projects within the COTAP portfolio, which may or may not be with the same Partner or in the same geographic location.

In such instances, COTAP will make every effort to report such situations and our course of action.  Although COTAP has developed strategies, tools, and contracts to mitigate risk, forestry carbon projects in least developed countries entail a certain amount of risk which cannot be fully mitigated and which may result in your Contributions either failing to achieve their intended impacts of offsetting your footprint while alleviating poverty or achieving such impacts to a degree that was lower than anticipated.  Accordingly, your ultimate remedy for holding COTAP and its Partners accountable is to assess the quality of our performance via our annual reporting, which will include impacts, challenges, and shortfalls, and decide whether or not to transact with us again in the future.

Further, by participating in the Program or otherwise using this Website, you hereby acknowledge and agree that your Contributions and/or participation are philanthropic in nature and are not made in exchange for any direct services nor any direct or indirect ownership of or rights to any land, carbon credits, or trees.

3) Tax Deductibility. You understand that COTAP is a non-profit corporation, recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as an organization that qualifies as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended from time to time.

You also understand that you are solely responsible for determining the proper tax treatment for any contribution you make through the Website and the Program.  COTAP has not and will not provide any tax or legal advice to you in connection with any Contribution you might make. This Agreement does not attempt to define the tax implications of participating in the Program. If you participate in the Program, you should consult with your own accountants, tax and legal advisors.

While a Person making a contribution to the Program may or may not be eligible for a tax deduction in accordance with relevant law, in the case of an individual participating in COTAP’s Gift Program (http://cotap.org/home/gifts/), a tax benefit, if any, will be applicable to the donor, i.e., the Person making the actual Contribution, and not to the individual on whose behalf the gift-related Contribution is made.

4) Refund policy. In exceptional cases, such as mistaken Contribution amounts or accidental duplicate Contributions, COTAP will, at its discretion, refund the excess Contribution amount upon request if that request is made within 45 days of the Contribution.  Further, per-tonne pricing is subject to change without notice.

5) Allocation of tonnes and Calculator policy. A Users’ choice of which projects to contribute to are considered final at the time their transaction is processed, with the sole exception being that sufficient tonnes are no longer available under one or more of COTAP’s contracts with its Partners.  In such instances, COTAP has full discretion on how a User’s Contribution will be allocated, including to a mix of projects which have higher or lower per-tonne donation rate, resulting in a lower or higher number of User tonnes which will be offset.  In the unlikely event of extremely high demand where COTAP is unable to allocate a User’s offset donation to carbon credits stemming from any project’s upcoming planting season(s), COTAP retains full discretion on whether to hold donated funds for allocation to upcoming contractual supply or to cancel and refund the User’s donation.

Further, the User agrees that COTAP’s carbon footprint calculator is a tool intended to be used to guide their overall annual Contribution amount, is provided As-Is, and is optional as Users are allowed to utilize a footprint that they have calculated elsewhere to guide their overall annual COTAP Contribution amount.  Accordingly, disagreement with COTAP’s carbon footprint calculator methodology or functionality, or input errors made by Users, will not be considered sufficient grounds for adjusting and/or refunding Contributions.  COTAP will, at its discretion, evaluate requests to reduce or increase a Contribution amount if such a request is made within 45 days of the Contribution.

6) Records. Records of each Contribution you make will be kept by COTAP. An electronic receipt will be issued to you at the time your Contribution is made, will be made available via your registered account on the Website, and will be re-issued to you electronically upon request at any time.

7) Proprietary Rights. “Carbon Offsets To Alleviate Poverty,” “COTAP,” “COTAP.org,” and the COTAP logos are trademarks and service marks of COTAP.  COTAP owns and retains all proprietary rights in the Program, the Website, and all material and information posted thereon (“Content”).  You may display and print limited copies of the Content for your personal, non-commercial use in connection with your participation in the Program, but you may not alter, modify, publish, distribute, publicly display, sell, copy, or transmit any Content or other such proprietary information without the express, written permission of COTAP.

If you post any messages or other information on the Website, you agree that such messages and information shall be considered “Content,” and you agree to grant, and shall be deemed to have automatically granted to COTAP an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, fully-paid, worldwide license to:  a) use, copy, display, and distribute such Content; b) modify, alter, prepare derivative works of, and/or incorporate into other works, such Content; and c) grant, and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.  You represent and warrant that you have the right, power, and authority to grant the foregoing license.

You acknowledge, consent and agree that COTAP may, at its sole discretion and to the extent permitted by law, access, read, preserve, and disclose your account information, usage history and submitted Content in order to:  a) comply with any applicable law, regulation, legal process, or governmental request; b) respond to claims that any Content violates the rights of third parties, including intellectual property rights; c) enforce this Agreement and investigate potential violations thereof; d) detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, or technical issues; e) respond to your requests for customer service; or f) protect the rights, property, or personal safety of COTAP, its Users, or the public.

8) Acceptable Use. This Agreement and COTAP’s Privacy Policy apply to all Users and any Person who otherwise uses the Website, including an individual participating in COTAP’s Gift Program (http://cotap.org/home/gifts/) to make a contribution as a gift to another individual. The Website is for use in connection with the Program and may not be used by you in connection with any other endeavors — commercial or otherwise — except as previously approved in writing by COTAP.

The Website is intended for use by individuals and organizations for offsetting their carbon footprints and COTAP accordingly reserves the right to reject any transaction, in its sole discretion, which it considers to be excessive in size or from an organization not aligned with COTAP’s mission, or otherwise.  Further, all offset-based contributions result in pooled carbon credit retirement by COTAP on behalf of the donor.  Accordingly, donors do not receive title to carbon credits or Verified Emissions Reductions (VERs), and COTAP also reserves the right to reject transactions which appear to be for the purposes of re-selling.

Your use of the Website and participation in the Program shall be in strict compliance with this Agreement, COTAP’s Privacy Policy, all other procedures and guidelines set forth on the Website and applicable law. You may not engage in advertising to, or solicitation of, any User, Partner or any other Person to buy or sell any products or services through the Website. Only authorized Partners may seek Contributions on the Website. You may not transmit any chain letters or junk email to any User, Partner or any other Person. Illegal and/or unauthorized uses of the Website, including collecting the name, email address or any other personal or confidential information of any User, Partner or any other Person by electronic or other means for any reason, including, without limitation, the purpose of sending unsolicited email and unauthorized framing of or linking to the Website, will be investigated and appropriate legal action will be taken, including, without limitation, civil, criminal and injunctive redress.  For the purposes of this Agreement, the term ‘Person’ includes any individual, firm, corporation, partnership, limited liability company, trust, joint venture, or other entity.

Although COTAP assumes no obligation to monitor the conduct of any User on or off the Website, it is a violation of this Agreement to use the Website or any information obtained from the Website in order to: (i) harass, abuse, or harm another person (including, but not limited to, using profanity in User messages or joining a User group in bad faith), (ii) prevent or exclude others, who are using the Website in compliance with this Agreement, from accessing, viewing or making Contributions to a particular Partner or Project, or (iii) contact, advertise to, solicit, or sell to any User, Partner or other Person without their prior explicit consent. In order to protect such persons from such advertising, solicitation or harassment, COTAP reserves the right to remove content from the Website that violates acceptable use in COTAP’s sole discretion and restrict the number of emails or messages that a User may send to others through the Website in any 24-hour or other period to a number that COTAP deems appropriate, in COTAP’s sole and absolute discretion.

The Website includes features and functionality whereby a User may post and transmit information, images and other materials. All such information, images and materials, whether publicly posted or publicly or privately transmitted, are the sole responsibility of the User who originates such content. COTAP assumes no obligation to monitor or control such posted or transmitted content and cannot take responsibility for such content posted or transmitted by a User. However, COTAP reserves the right at all times (but will not have an obligation) to remove or refuse to post or distribute any content, and to restrict, suspend or terminate the participation of any User or User group from the Website and from all COTAP services and Programs at any time, with or without prior notice. Without in any way limiting the foregoing, it is a violation of this Agreement to upload, post or submit any content, including, but not limited to, written materials or images, that in COTAP’s opinion is obscene, harassing, contains profanity, or may be hateful or offensive on racial, ethnic, sexual or any other grounds; is harmful, vulgar or distasteful; contains graphic or gratuitous violence; or is defamatory, libelous, or invades another person’s privacy or proprietary rights.

9) Disclaimers. COTAP is not responsible, and shall have no liability, for any incorrect or inaccurate Content posted on the Website or any liability, cost or expense you may incur in connection with the Program, whether caused by any User, Partner or other Person or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Program. You also acknowledge and agree that Partners are not liable for content created and posted by COTAP on the Website. COTAP is not responsible for the conduct, whether online or offline, of any User of the Website or any other Person. With respect to the Website, COTAP assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, any communications.

Under no circumstances will COTAP be responsible for any loss or damage, including personal injury or death, resulting from any use of the Website or participation in the Program, any Content posted on the Website or transmitted to, or any interactions between, any Users of the Website, whether online or offline. COTAP neither represents, warrants, covenants guarantees, nor promises any specific results from use of the Website or the Program.

THE WEBSITE, INCLUDING ANY CONTENT OR INFORMATION CONTAINED WITHIN IT OR ANY SERVICE OR ADVICE PROVIDED IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROGRAM, IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITH NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. YOU ASSUME TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY AND RISK FOR YOUR USE OF THIS WEBSITE AND WEBSITE-RELATED SERVICES.

COTAP makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, with respect to any third party data provided to COTAP or its transmission, timeliness, accuracy or completeness, including but not limited to implied warranties or warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.  COTAP will not be liable in any way to you or to any other person for any inaccuracy, error or delay in or omission of any third party data or the transmission or delivery of any such third party data and any loss or damage arising from (a) any such inaccuracy, error, delay or omission, (b) non-performance or (c) interruption in any such third party data due either to any negligent act or omission by COTAP or “force majeure” or any other cause beyond the control of COTAP.

10) Limitation of Liability. You understand that any and all decisions made by you with respect to the Program are yours alone.  COTAP shall not be responsible, or have any duty or obligation to, or liability for: (a) decisions or interactions resulting (directly or indirectly) from participation in the Program; or (b) any damages, costs, losses or expenses a User incurs as a result (directly or indirectly) of making a Contribution to a Project or as a result (directly or indirectly) of utilizing the Program or information received in connection with the Program. In addition, in no event will COTAP be liable to you or any third person for any damages, costs, losses or expenses, including any special, incidental, consequential or punitive damages arising from your use of the Website or participation in the Program, even if COTAP has been advised of the possibility of such damages, costs, losses or expenses.

11) Governing Law; Resolution of Disputes; Arbitration and Waivers. This Agreement is governed by the laws of the State of California, USA, without regard to its choice of law or conflict of law provisions. If any dispute arises between you and COTAP, including, without limitation, any dispute arising from or relating to the Website or the Program, you agree that all such disputes will be determined exclusively by final and binding arbitration, in accordance with the then existing commercial rules of the American Arbitration Association in San Francisco. The arbitration shall be heard and adjudicated by one arbitrator to be selected by you and COTAP. Any award will be final, binding and conclusive upon the parties, subject only to judicial review provided by California statute, and a judgment rendered on the arbitration award can be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof. Notwithstanding the foregoing, either you or COTAP may seek any injunctive relief in a state or federal court in San Francisco, California, as may be necessary to preserve rights pending the completion of arbitration and COTAP may seek any injunctive relief in a state or federal court in San Francisco, California, or another court of competent jurisdiction, at any time against any violations of Section 7 (Proprietary Rights) or Section 8 (Acceptable Use) of this Agreement.

To the extent permitted by applicable law, by agreeing to submit all disputes to binding aribitration, you and COTAP hereby waive your right to a jury or court trial of any claim or cause of action arising out of or based upon this Agreement or any contemplated use herein, including contract, tort, breach of duty, and all other claims, except specifically provided above.

You waive, to the maximum extent not prohibited by law, any right you may have to claim or recover, in any legal action or proceeding, any special, exemplary, punitive, or consequential damages.

12) Indemnification. You agree to indemnify and hold COTAP and its Affiliates harmless from and against any and all loss, liability, claims, causes, actions, damages or penalties, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, made by any third party due to or arising out of: (1) your use of this Website in breach or violation of any term of this Terms of Use or Privacy Policy; (2) your violation of any law or regulation; (3) breach of your representations and warranties as set forth herein; or (4) any content you provide to COTAP.

13) Termination. This Agreement will remain in full force and effect while you use the Website, any COTAP services, or participate in the Program as a User and, notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, this Agreement will remain in effect after your participation in the Program and status as a User is terminated. Whether or not you are and remain eligible to participate in the Program, or use the Website or any COTAP services, may be determined by COTAP in its sole and absolute discretion. You may terminate your participation and status as a User at any time and for any reason by sending a written notice of termination to COTAP, such notice to be effective within 3 days of receipt by COTAP.  COTAP may also terminate your participation in the Program and status as a User at any time and for any reason, effective upon transmission of notice to you at the email address you provide to COTAP.  If your participation in the Program and status as a User is terminated by COTAP, you agree not to use the Website any further.

14) Entire Agreement;  Severability. This Agreement, accepted upon use of the Website and further affirmed by becoming a User or Donor, contains the entire agreement between you and COTAP regarding the use of the Website or the Program.  This Agreement supersedes any previous Terms of Use to which you and COTAP may have been bound.  This Agreement may be modified by COTAP in its sole discretion from time to time and such modifications shall automatically become part of this Agreement and shall be effective once posted by COTAP on the Website.  Your participation in the Program and use of the Website will be subject to any such modifications.  You should review the Website and this Agreement from time to time for any modifications.  This Agreement may not be orally amended.  If any provision of this Agreement is held invalid, the remainder of this Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.

You may receive a written copy of this Agreement by emailing us at: info [at] cotap [dot] org,  Subject: COTAP Terms of Use Agreement.

Version 1.3:  September 25, 2012

 

 
 
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