Where and when had we gotten so CYA? Was it just a way to give lawyers more work? The whole Internet thing seems to have given explosive growth to the now-ubiquitous legalities.
I went to download some new tunes the other day, and was informed that the terms of the Terms and Conditions (T&C) had changed, and I had to accept or reject said T&C to continue.
Good Lord, I just wanted new music, but now had to wade through a 1000 pages of legal jargon to do so!
OK, not a 1000, but still.
I canceled out.
“Legally,” all this stuff says, we have to read it all before accepting–but how many of us do so?
(Hand raised) I do.
Do you really know what you’re agreeing to? Are you certain there’s no embedded clause in there that says you’re not signing away your first born or your soul? Or worse, that “they” now have a right to track every little thing you do to “better market” to you (and you wonder why you have so many Viagra and lingerie ads…)? Oh, sure, there’s the now-standard “don’t do bad stuff to our stuff” jargon, but, really, isn’t that already part of existing law? I mean–and correct me if I’m wrong–but doesn’t existing law already make it a crime if you commit a crime?
When we visit a doctor’s office, do we have to sign T&C’s like these? When we talk to a police man or woman, do we have to sign anything? Drink from a public water fountain, buy groceries, or phone a friend–what do we sign? Don’t we all understand we could catch a disease, eat spoiled food, or our phone service could go down and our friend could give us faulty advice?
If we talk to a stranger on the street, or eat in a restaurant–where are our ubiquitous T&Cs we need to sign in order that we understand that if we throw a punch, poison the food, or defame a company or person, we’re headed for court and/or jail? That when we talk with anyone, what they say or do might not be exact or perfect or even correct?
When you stop by this or any other blog (and I do thank you for doing so!), you understand–it’s a given–that anything here is my opinion, and my opinion only, unless I cite sources. That I might well be full of shit, but I might also have something interesting to say. Perhaps I’m even (occasionally) entertaining. My “Running Off at the Mouth” pretty much says it all, I think (though I just changed the subtitle to my blog header to put you and all the lawyers all better at ease), and thank your religious deity I don’t make you read and click off on any T&C every time you visit here.
So, those of you out there smarter than me on this stuff: is all this jargon really needed? Is it really necessary to inundate all our lives with yet more stuff that I’d wager most people do not read–yet are wholeheartedly agreeing to? If any of us break any law, if any of us misuse anything in the public or private disinterests, we’re all gonna be pinned to the wall and held accountable. Why the heck do we need to have pages and pages of legal jargon to wade through every time we access something on the internet?
Maybe we all just like the misery. Like being kicked in the face.
[Added Aug 31:] BTW, check out this related article from Kristine Kathryn Rusch.