Terms and Conditions May Apply: documentary about abusive license terms, privacy and surveillance


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“Unfortunately, the video itself seems to be exclusively available through Itunes, which has some pretty dreadful license terms, and mandatory DRM to boot.”

So the documentary comments on itself by using the media channel through which it is delivered.


Obligatory filk: http://www.mcgath.com/songs/ShrinkWrapBlues.pdf

What, you mean I’m supposed to read those things?

that last part was particularly poignant it goes to the adage “something must be done; this [bill, law,whatever] does something; something has been done”
so often the goal is just to do SOMETHING not to do the RIGHT thing.

i was just wondering about this sort of thing yesterday when the new itunes download threw up a new 35 page terms and conditions agreement that had to be checked before continuing. Even though i was curious what it said i only made it 5 pages through due to the mind numbing hit yourself in the head with a brick language employed by such agreements.

i wonder what percentage of people read and understand such agreements? i also wonder if they shouldn’t be illegal unless they are 2 pages or less and worded in plain english. i mean seriously, 35 pages, and i’ve already agreed to numerous itunes arrangements, this was just the latest one. i think this sort of practice is deplorable at best and certainly not in the best interest of the end users.

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I had my lawyer look over this post reading agreement and she recommended some changes:

READ CAREFULLY. By reading this post, you agree, on behalf of your employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all NON-NEGOTIATED agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete and acceptable use policies (“BOGUS AGREEMENTS”) that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any BOGUS AGREEMENTS on behalf of your employer.


Funny, I just wrote something similar the other day about how crazy these agreement are. I worded the article to sound like the agreements but later realizes of you have never read these you wouldn’t get the jokes.
Here it is http://my.firedoglake.com/spocko/2013/09/17/re-your-bumper-sticker-gun-logic-if-you-out-law-guns-blah-blah-blah/

So, nobody reads these, and they just waste everybody’s time.

Why do they exist form a practical standpoint?

Is there some math on the time wasted on stupidity?

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The movie was showing in a theater near me for the past week. I have to believe it’s available in other theaters as well.

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It’s not obvious? They allow corporations to do almost anything with impunity. Once you click, they can hack your drives, extract your SSN and sell it to the Russian mafia, and you can’t sue - hell, you can’t even complain. If their software goes mad and starts chewing through gigabytes of vital, irreplaceable data, well boo frekin hoo.

That’s why.

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So… . why not just say that when we graduate high school or something?

It seems a lot more efficient! :wink:

I’d like to watch this movie. I’d pay for the opportunity and everything. But, I refuse to install iTunes. It’s a cancer.

Let’s not forget http://boingboing.net/2013/08/09/court-fines-for-man-who-rewrot.html

The problem is that law is a VERY bad programming language. As a result, lawyers are trained to reuse subroutines which have already been tested for many years and proven to work. It doesn’t matter that they were poorly written in the first place, or use archaic language – it’s much, much easier, and often significantly safer, than trying to write something new that’s equally trustworthy. The resulting program/contract is naturally going to be unpleasant to read.

This can be avoided, but it requires that the customer be willing to pay the lawyer more to find better language to adapt, or still more to create new language that the customer feels is equally safe.

Or it requires that the customer, and the lawyer, be willing to settle for a much simpler set of rules for what the customer can and can’t do. Keeping that robust can be surprisingly difficult.

Remember: Every rule in a contract, like every law, “has someone’s name on it” – that is, it was put there because someone did something that the company didn’t like and that they felt they had to explicitly forbid. If folks were more willing to respect copyright and intellectual property, it wouldn’t need so much defense.

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Yes, but that only serves the interest of the contract writers and the company authoring the contract.

The arcane and abstract language makes any contract unfair and unknowable to most of the people who have to agree with them. You could probably slip anything into most contracts and 99% of people would still click agree, making them meaningless in reality, and the enforcing of them a crime in my opinion.

I think consumer protection laws should make such contracts illegal and that they are a predatory business practice that is done solely for the benefit of the company at the expense of their customers.

I wouldn’t object to rules making contracts more human-readable. I’m only pointing out that, in fact, most of the arcana are not, in fact, malicious.

i understand those points and i realize most companies aren’t hiding malicious content in their agreements, thank goodness, or choosing this language out of malicious intent.

i’m sure martin luther would be able to expound better then i the inherent power/danger/advantage discrepancy that such a situation creates on a whole even if many of the individuals have no malicious intent.

keeping the arcane language is only of benefit to one side and greatly hinders the other side. any court that holds the signer to such contracts is not ruling in the best interest of the people as they were almost certainly unaware of what they were signing to.

here’s to hoping for sensible consumer protections laws that force reform in this area, because it sure isn’t getting done without it.

Unfortunately, the current situation is that either you need to learn to read legalese (at least well enough to know what you’re agreeing to), hire an expert to review it (which is what companies do), deal with companies whom you believe will not abuse your trust (because they’ve got too much to lose by being stupid about this), or “vote with your feet and your wallet” and decline to do business with the company that asked you to sign something you aren’t comfortable with.

Up to you to decide what your time, and your effort, and your trust, are worth.

If companies lose enough business to competetors with simpler licensing agreements, they will consider investing more money in simplifying their agreements.

I’m not sure consumer protection laws can do much to improve legal language, because each license is an individual contract between you and the publisher. Recommendations can be made for standard language – that’s certainly happened in the open-source arena, where folks may use one of the existing well-understood license agreements – but the more complicated the product, and the more expensive the product, the more likely that the publisher is going to worry about “edge cases” arising and the more custom language is likely to come back in.

After all, if things weren’t complicated they wouldn’t need license agreements, per se, at all. Copyright SHOULD cover most of the common cases. But as soon as you get into “can I install this on more than one machine” and “can I let others use it remotely” and other things that people want to do with software that they can’t do with a physical book, life starts to get messy.

There’s no need for contract lawyers to be malicious in intent; one of the functions of contract law is to obscure the malice implicit in property rights. The owner is the one setting the terms. The premise of contract law is that the parties to an agreement enter it freely and as equals, but the purpose of most contracts is for the property owner to use his advantage to leverage greater power.

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