In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Inspiration.”
An inspiring reading of the opening of iTune’s user agreement:
If not, you’re not alone. One company hid a clause in its license agreement promising a thousand dollars to the first person to find it and contact them. Three thousand downloads and four months later, someone finally claimed the prize.
The iTunes agreement is fifty eight snoring pages long. PayPal? Longer than Romeo and Juliet. To read the fine print in privacy agreements that most of us agree to each year (forget Terms of Service Agreements, End User License Agreements and Licensing Contracts), it would take a month. So, we don’t.
Does it matter? Maybe.
What’s in there:
1. If anything goes wrong it’s not the company’s fault.
Take WordPress, the application that hosts my blog.
Limitation of Liability. In no event will Automattic, or its suppliers or licensors, be liable with respect to any subject matter of this agreement under any contract, negligence, strict liability or other legal or equitable theory for: … interruption of use or loss or corruption of data … Item 18, WordPress “Terms of Service.”
Translation: If my blog posts disappear, it’s not WordPress’s fault and they are under no obligation to recover them.
2. Definitions. Property law, statutes of limitations and other such language. For instance, as iTunes agreement explains, when you buy a song you don’t own the music any more than you own the words in The Sorcerer’s Stone. You have a right to play the music, on certain devices. That’s it.
3. Privacy Agreement. You agree to be tracked online, in exchange for whatever is on offer — template, article, software update, game. Also explains how your privacy is protected, but hackers can get into just about anything. So can the CIA.
WHAT TO DO:
Most of the language is as benign as it is mind-numbing, but to avoid losing data, getting ripped off or getting your computer gummed up with spyware, take these three steps:
(1) See if someone else has summarized/condensed the agreement in plain English. Useful resources: “ToS:DR” (Terms of Service: Didn’t Read), rates and lists key features of agreements for many companies. Here’s a summary of iTunes’ terms (a little dated, but still shows highlights). Here’s a warning that PayPal may be tricking customers.
(2) Watch out for sites you’ve never heard of. If it’s a scam, someone has probably written about it online, so take time to research.
(3) Don’t leave your credit card number, or a large balance that can be drawn from. Don’t give out your Social Security number, ever, to anyone other than the IRS.
Still not inspired? Take it away, South Park: