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Posted on June 29th, 2010 by Tim Danton

The world’s most ridiculous Terms & Conditions?

Even though I generally like the hardware Apple produces, I’m not a huge fan of Apple’s way of doing business, and in particular its habit of tying you into its systems. For precisely that reason, I’ve never bought an Apple device: nary an iPod, an iPhone or a Mac.

However, we currently have two Apple iPhone 4s on loan in the office, with our reviews editor Jon Bray grabbing one and me the other, and that means for the first time I’ve come face to face with the iTunes Store Terms & Conditions and Apple’s Privacy Policy.

I first met this on the iPhone 4 itself. I wanted to download an app, so clicked on the option to set up a new iTunes Store account. And that’s when I was faced with this screen (photographed by the other iPhone 4, just for the record):

Apple iTunes Store terms and conditions on the iPhone itself

As you can see, Apple expects me to read 99 pages of terms and conditions. When I click Agree, I’m asked to confirm “I have read and agree to the iTunes Store Terms & Conditions”. Right, of course I have.

But I’m being unfair, I told myself. It’s only 99 pages on the iPhone; I bet if I try to set up a new account online it’s far fewer pages to scroll through. So, I fired up iTunes, followed the wizard and was greeted by this:

Apple iTunes Store terms and conditions via iTunes

It still wasn’t clear just how many words I had to wade through, so I copied and pasted them into Word. This screenshot tells you all you need to know:

Apple iTunes Store terms and conditions

That’s no mistake. 48 pages, over 26,000 words. I reckon it would take me half an hour to read that with the attention necessary to spot any terms and conditions I disagree with. But, of course, I’m not going to do that. No one will, except lawyers and journalists far more pedantic than me.

So I’ve got two questions, which I’m hoping PC Pro readers will be able to help me with. First, would these terms and conditions stand up in court? And second, have you encountered any more ridiculous Ts&Cs?

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18 Responses to “ The world’s most ridiculous Terms & Conditions? ”

  1. James Harris Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    This is one of the reasons I am making the jump from Apple to Android.

     
  2. Rickster Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Hey, Tim are you reading my mind?
    I’ve ranted about this twice now too!
    http://rickster.co.uk/blog/378-apples-terms-and-conditions-almost-reaches-a-century.html

    BTW have you noticed out of your window that the BT Tower has vanished?

    It was cuaght on video here:
    http://vimeo.com/12918791

     
  3. Rickster Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Oh I just found my other rant about it:
    http://rickster.co.uk/blog/322-the-top-ten-facts-abut-apples-new-terms-and-conditions.html

     
  4. Ben Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Wonder what EULAizer makes of it?

    http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/eulalyzer.html

    Checks EULA for “interesting” phrases.

     
  5. KorkyKat Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Interesting. It might be worth doing a web search on the 2006 OFT v Dell case when Dell used to have very complicated TOCs. The OFT sorted them out. Good reading.

    Apple? No thanks for the same reasons given by Tim.

     
  6. Jag Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    The closest I can find is : http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/21/fsa_contract_guidance/

    “The FSA said that the practice of including a checkbox for consumers to confirm that they have read and understood terms and conditions is a breach of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.”

    “Consumer regulator the Office of Fair Trading publishes guidance (pdf) on the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations which also makes it clear that asking consumers to declare they have read and understood an agreement is unfair.”

     
  7. bish Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Hmm, just accepting 9255 words on the iPod upgrade to OS version 4… includes some juicy stuff about defending, indemnifying and harmlessly holding You Tube from all comers… Yawn…

     
  8. stokegabriel Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Didn’t someone hide a cash prize within T&C to the first person who had read that far. I think it was about 23000 people registered the program before someone claimed the prize.
    However with iTunes at over 26,000 words, it might be worth reading it, I mean it would be virtually a qualification you could put on your CV.

     
  9. Chris Howland Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    The photo is interesting, asking a minor to check with their parents that they understand the T&C’s.

    I’m no expert, but I believe that any contract agreed with a minor is automatically void.

     
  10. Will Damien Says:
    June 30th, 2010 at 3:09 am

    The reason it is so long is because Apple have the agreements for multiple things rolled into one. Those 99 pages include:

    iTunes Store T&C’s
    App Store T&C’s
    iBookStore T&C’s
    iTunes T&C’s
    and Apples Privacy statement.

    It would be better if they just made them seperate T&C’s to make things easier!

     
  11. John T Says:
    June 30th, 2010 at 8:06 am

    I used to sell services to investment banks and law firms worth tens, (sometimes hundreds) of thousands of pounds a year. The average T&C’s attached to my contracts were usually contained in two A4 pages – and the most I ever stretched to once, as a great rarity, was about ten pages.

    I just find the idea that a phone worth a couple of hundred quid warrants forty-eight pages to be absolutely laughable.

    As Chris Howland pointed out, I’d LOVE to see them try and defend some obscure aspect of it in court against a 15 year old.

     
  12. Parimal Kumar Says:
    June 30th, 2010 at 8:48 am

    The lengthy T&Cs are a function of a law system that believes in checkboxes rather than principles. Apple’s 26,000 word T&Cs could be summarised with a dozen or so bullet points as overarching principles rather than try to cover every single eventuality…

     
  13. splodgebucket Says:
    June 30th, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Hmmm – Is a software license agreement a valid contract in the legal sense?
    Legally, agreement is required by all parties to a contract – ie you would need an MS representative (or whoever the supplier was) to sign on their behalf. Just a computer installing software in response to you clicking “I agree” doesn’t constitute a contract agreement, nor does electronic activation of a software license key.

    The unfair contract terms regulations also requires contracts to be equal on all sides – most software licenses are aimed giving most power to the vendor/developer rather than purchaser.

     
  14. Chris Howland Says:
    June 30th, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    A contract does not need to be signed to be valid. Acceptance by deed has equal legal standing to signature and in the case in point simply clicking on the ‘I accept’ button is quite sufficient. This of course presumes that the person accepting is legally capable of being bound by the agreement – i.e not a minor, drunk or otherwise protected under the law.

    As far as unfair terms is concerned – someone would need to mount a challenge to establish that.

     
  15. Muscle Max XL Says:
    July 1st, 2010 at 5:58 am

    All these terms and conditions are nothing but just formalities conducted by Apple on behalf of their legal advisers. One cannot get rid of these T & C apply anywhere in the world.

     
  16. David Wright Says:
    July 1st, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Here, in Germany, I like the simplicity of the contract law. You can only be held accountable for the terms and conditions you read, before you purchased a product. Any additional terms and conditions, which are inside a shrink-wrap box, or only visible, once you start to install a piece of software, are totally unenforceable.

    That is one of the reasons that it is quasi-legal to install OS X on a non-Apple computer (you aren’t allowed to hack the OS X image to get it to work, but if it works with your hardware, you can install it), because there is nothing on the outside of the shrinkwrap package which says that it can only be used on Apple branded kit – that is inside the box!

    If the manufacturer hasn’t shown you any terms and conditions, before you have signed up for the product (in the case of the iPhone, when you sign the contract in-store and before you remove it from the box), they cannot hold you to them.

    Theoretically, the changes to the iTunes ToCs aren’t enforcable, unless you are opening a new account, because they are changing the rules after the contract has been agreed to – Apple should allow the user to continue to use the product, whilst rejecting the changes in the ToC…

     
  17. TaoistTotty Says:
    July 1st, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I wonder how it would stand legally if you amended the T&C and then agreed to them, would the supplier be liable for the changes you made?

     
  18. Chris Howland Says:
    July 1st, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Re comment 17: Only if they agreed :-)

     

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