I always read the fine print and terms and conditions. It's one of those things about me that really annoys other people since it takes forever, but I always tell them they can take it up with Tyra Banks.
Younger me was very into America's Next Top Model for a hot minute and in one episode of season four, the girls get hoodwinked into signing a contract without really reading it.
Tyra Banks explaining to the girls that they had just signed away any rights to their rights "in perpetuity" (and then explaining perpetuity) and the girl's melodramatic responses will be burned into my mind forever. Also, the "told you so" face of the one girl who had tried to read it before signing.
One Reddit user asked:
... and it's like Tyra taught us nothing.
Basically, if their product or service harms you in any way, you can't sue and have to settle it with an arbitrator who has much more motivation to side with the company rather than you so they can get hired more often.
Also important to note that the clauses often include that the arbiter be from a firm of their choice aka a firm they have on retainer.
This shouldn't be legal without an option to opt out
Your Soul Is Minemortal kombat pointing GIF Giphy
The game-station.co.uk prank! I think Gamestop might have done it in the US as well. They changed the fine print on their online purchases to read:
"By placing an order via this web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul".
"Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from gamesation.co.uk or one of its duly authorised minions. We reserve the right to serve such notice in 6 (six) foot high letters of fire, however we can accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by such an act. If you a) do not believe you have an immortal soul, b) have already given it to another party, or c) do not wish to grant Us such a license, please click the link below to nullify this sub-clause and proceed with your transaction."
(The link led to a site that explained it was an April Fool's prank and granted a £5 voucher on the purchase)
They also later send out E-Mails to everyone that agreed to inform them they would be immediately nullifying any claim they had on their customers' souls.
Who "Owns" The Art
An online songwriting class where they essentially claimed ownership of everything you turned it. The way it was written, the student technically "owned" the song, but university had the right to do anything they wanted with it, including sublicense it and profit off of it without your permission.
Most sites that allow you to submit content have a clause like this. YouTube or DeviantArt basically own whatever you upload to them, they can profit off it, reproduce it without your permission, all that fun stuff.
How Powerful Is iTunes?
There's a line in the iTunes terms and conditions:
You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture, or production of nuclear, missile, or chemical or biological weapons.
Apple has it in their movie prop contracts that the bad guy can never use their items. If you start to suspect someone in a movie, and see them use an iPad, iphone, ect., Spoiler alert...
Free Stock Photos
I don't remember the exact details but, when you enter one of costco photography contests you are giving the right to what they want with your photo even if you don't win the contest.
So, basically, the contest are a way to get high quality (because you don't send bad pictures to a contest) stock photos for free.
As a Canadian Photographer, I only submit to Canadian contests or publishers, as in our copyright law, the ownership always falls back to the artist, and its cannot be signed away. Companies still try it in Canada, and just hope people don't try to fight the fine print even though they have full legal right.
"We may collect some extremely sensitive data, like your device's camera feed"
We may. No words on when they do, which immediately makes me think they're doing it as often as possible.
Are those the only partners? Are they just examples of a list? Where's the full list then? Who knows.
Even worse when it just stops at "partners."
DNAspace dna GIF by NASA Giphy
Ancestry and 23andme have a clause that says they own your dna sequence and can do whatever they want with it.
There's been reasonable cases so far where murders have been solved because the killer left DNA traces at the murder site, the killer's second cousin had done a DNA test, and this was enough of a match to call the second cousin in for questioning, ascertain their family tree and boom, you now have 52 suspects to investigate and a high degree of confidence that one of them is the killer.
This, however, can very easily be misused.
Imagine the Hong Kong police getting DNA samples after an anti-regime protest and asking for matches, or the US military doing so to track down a whistleblower like Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning.
A Hidden Contract
This is an old one, but if you bought Windows 7 (Builder's License, reduced price version) and installed it on only your personal computer, you are technically breaking the law. The way the contract is worded basically means that the moment you install Windows, you certify that you are, in fact, a COMMERCIAL PC builder, and that you are building computers for a living, and for financial gain.
And if you don't follow these rules? Microsoft has the right to sue you for violating your contract.
Only problem was that the only COPY of that agreement was INSIDE of the packaging, and placed secretly in a spot behind the placard that tells you your product key.
It's hidden in the papers in the little tab in the jewel case, in case anyone wants to know.
So, in other words, you automatically agreed to a contract that you might even never know about.
Oh, and Microsoft can tell how many times you have used that product key. And they sued people for not using it for it's intended use. Google it.
We Don't Own What We Own
Technology these days - we basically don't own anything that we... Well, own. Nintendo and PlayStation own the rights to revoke your license of your digital Games. It's a small reason why I way prefer physical copies. I don't have any reason to believe they will revoke my license, but I hate that they have the ability to.
Not Without A Treaty
A common one:
"This contract is governed by the law of (insert nation or smaller jurisdiction HERE) and any disputes arising under this contract must be filed in (jurisdiction)."
This clause flat out doesn't matter in Australia. It's invalid and the contract applies as though it wasn't written - but it does apply in some countries without stronger consumer protection laws.
It puts you at a huge disadvantage if you need to sue the company, as you need a solicitor in California or Nevada or Turkmenistan or wherever it might be.
I review contracts for the government occasionally.
I always find it funny when we have to tell a company that we can't agree to put our nation under the Jurisdiction of another nation without a treaty, and that we don't plan on asking for a treaty to buy some off-the-shelf software from one of many resellers.
More Than A Little Uncomfortable
Last spring I took the AP exams digitally, and there was a clause buried deep in the terms and conditions that said they could record you taking the test using your computer mic and webcam without notifying you (it would override the request to use your cam/mic and your webcam light) and that they could use the footage however they wanted.
I'd be lying if I said that didn't make me more than a little uncomfortable.
All Your Devicesalison brie everything GIF Giphy
At least twice, I've run into a clause that stated that if you used the software, you agreed that the company could send people to inspect all of your devices, and not just the one where the software was installed. This was on software for PC/MAC.
One was a third-party renderer for SketchUp, I forgot what the other one was.
A Year Of Email Reminders
If you sign up to use the Instagram API they send you a contract to sign. The contract has you agree to hand over your books and all server logs to Facebook any time they ask so they can check you're not violating the API terms (it said nothing about them needing a reason to ask).
Also if you choose to not sign, they will email you every 3 days indefinitely, reminding you to sign the contract, with no way to unsubscribe. I've been getting the emails for a year now lol.
A Care Worker
The missus' work contract says that if she invents or creates anything (intellectual properties or inventions), that the company she works for automatically own the rights to it.
She's a care worker. So if she invents a new device or creates a new treatment to help people, the company owns it and can charge/profit however they want.
There are kind of two sides to this. Yes, some of the terms in contracts are disturbing, wrong etc. but by putting it in contract or as a clear warning label on a product/service the business protects itself from problems.
Like Winnebago now have to specifically declare that cruise control is not autopilot, because someone assumed it was, crashed their RV whilst making a drink in the kitchen thinking that the RV was self-driving, and was injured.
Know Your Company Policy
Not really terms and conditions, but similar. I worked in HR for several years. I am amazed at how many people do not even skim over company policy or compliance.
I read - in depth - both of them at every company I work for.
Some companies will try their best not to even provide a copy to you, much less direct you to what you are looking for. If you email HR they will give you general "Oh you can find it here on the company portal."
Not only have I saved a few friends jobs by doing this, but also my own. Having at least a vague familiarity with company policy and compliance could one day save you.
Example: Worked for a company where the manager started dating an employees ex. Over night, the employee (also someone I consider a good friend) became the managers enemy.
The environment was getting pretty hostile, and then layoffs came. Guess who was first on managers list to let go? Yep, friend.
I was the supervisor at the time, so he called me and the friend into his office (without any HR rep present; strike one) and told my friend that he was going to have to let him go.
Me, being the overly paranoid type and having read the company policy, was able to dive right in on this arsehole. I let him know that:
1. In the event of a firing or layoff, a person from HR/Compliance had to be present.
2. In the event of a layoff, (which is what this was) company policy stated that student workers followed by part time associates would be laid off before full time were laid off. I hadn't been in any layoff meetings with either of our two student workers or our one part time worker.
My manager was floored. I advised my friend to go to HR.
Ultimately, the manager was on his last leg anyway and ended up being let go for, you guessed it, none other than violation of company policy.
I would like to say the story had a super happy ending and I got promoted, but this isn't the movies, so I did not. I ended up leaving the company 8 months later for another opportunity.
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