Home » Amazon, Contracts, PG's Thoughts (such as they are) » Actor recites all 9 hours of Amazon Kindle T&Cs

Actor recites all 9 hours of Amazon Kindle T&Cs

16 March 2017

From CNet:

Do you read the terms of service for every service you sign up for? Stop lying, you don’t. But you have a very good reason. They’re very long and very boring, and you just want to get stuck into whatever you’re signing up for.

. . . .

To highlight just how ridiculous it is, Choice hired an actor named Laurence to read aloud all 73,198 words of Amazon’s Kindle terms and conditions.

Based on the estimation that 500 words is one A4 page, that’s 146 pages, and it took poor Laurence nine hours to slog through the whole thing.

Link to the rest at CNet and thanks to G.P. for the tip.

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Having written, rewritten and read more Terms of Use than he cares to remember, PG says such “Agreements” always begin as shorter documents, then grow over time. They never seem to shrink.

Unless a provision is determined by a court or government agency to be illegal or unenforceable, it stays in the Terms of Service (or Terms of Use or Terms and Conditions) forever. These three titles (abbreviated as ToS, TOU or T’s & C’s when lawyers communicate with one another) tend to be used interchangeably to refer to the same type of document embedded somewhere on a corporate website or printed in tiny, tiny type on a much-folded piece of paper inserted into product packaging.

On occasion, stories arise about someone who inserts a provision at about the 80% point in a corporate TOU that offers to pay whomever reads the provision a reward of $100 with an email address to claim the reward. Months pass, then years, and the reward is never claimed.

While PG would never recommend treating the contractual provisions included in a TOU lightly, as a general proposition, most large organizations with lengthy TOU’s threaten violators with great vigor, but seldom seem to take enforcement actions to trial before a judge or (heaven forefend!) a jury.

In PG’s experience, TOU’s tend to be much, much longer than agreements on similar subjects that are negotiated between two parties who are each represented by counsel.

PG stumbled across an article in The Telegraph which indicates the islands from which the foundations of American law originated may have a more sensible view of TOU’s than the US does. It’s official: you don’t have to read the Ts & Cs

Amazon, Contracts, PG's Thoughts (such as they are)

22 Comments to “Actor recites all 9 hours of Amazon Kindle T&Cs”

  1. A friend of mine once read the entire TOS of my new (at the time) iPhone to me. It had mostly to do with preventing lawsuits, specifying what Apple would not be responsible for. I suspect there’s a lot more to it now.

    Is it true that a lot of sales receipts for newer TVs, the ones that can be used as computer monitors, state that the manufacturer has the right to collect information on anything you do with it? Including keeping copies of all your emails, anything else you type, as well as everywhere you go on the internet?

    • Smart TV’s… It has nothing to do with using them as a computer monitor, but if you are actually using the Apps built into the TV itself… well.. my advice remains the same… Never connect your TV’s or entertainment systems to Internet.

      • Thanks! I was remembering something I read awhile ago, but obviously didn’t remember well enough.

  2. We need a law that TOSes can’t be more than 10 pages, max. 🙂

    • Will never happen. They need to protect themselves from any possible ‘risk’. That includes the microsoft ones telling you to not use their software for anything time critical or ‘important’ as is may hang/blue screen/crash/reboot or with ’10’ update at any time.

      And yes, they even have to put those things that you and I would look at and say ‘nobody’s that daft!’ because there are people that are that daft. (I still like the coffee cup covers with the warning that the contents ‘may’ be hot!)

      • (I still like the coffee cup covers with the warning that the contents ‘may’ be hot!)

        I love those… still written in English, in Spain. Spanish law is quite different (not the maker’s fault if you boil your dog dry in a microwave), but I’m not sure you couldn’t make a case that they KNEW the risk existed and OPTED using a foreign language. That might prove interesting.

        Take care.

    • You better specify a font size and line height to go with that rule 🙂 I can just picture it now: 10 pages of 6pt type crammed on a page with 7pt leading. I wouldn’t put it past any company to respond that way 🙂

      • Or limit the number of words (and wait for the debates over whether hyphenated words count as one word or two). Or limit the number of characters (and wait for a vendor to write their terms in Chinese and argue that it’s OK for the English translation to exceed the limit, because the Chinese original is within it).

  3. Actually, I did read the whole TOS before uploading my first ebook at Amazon/DTP/KDP.

    Seemed like the intelligent thing to do, since it involved important things like my copyrights, etc.

  4. AKA … “Everything is your fault, even when it’s our fault, it’s your fault. The end.”

  5. When a large enterprise signs a contract for a service, they often put a team of lawyers on writing up and negotiating the terms of service and service level agreements before the signatures go down, but click-through terms of service or end user license agreements are one-size-fits-all and you either click or you don’t get the service.

    It looked to me as if our lawyers writing click-through agreements reviewed the clauses of the carefully negotiated enterprise agreements and then made sure a click-through users did not get any of the enterprise protections. Call me cynical. The best parts of click-through agreements are where the user agrees to accept without recourse all judgements on them decided by arbitrators chosen by the provider. Reminds me of a slum apartment lease.

    Are these documents worth reading? Probably not. If you want or need the service, you don’t have a choice. It’s a take it or leave it deal.

    Strangely, end users have power that is not shown in the lawyers’ paper. Most service vendors desperately need customers. There’s an odd quirk to most service models: there is negligible incremental cost to each added user up to the limits of the infrastructure. In other words, service provider costs are usually about the same for 1000 users as 10,000 users, but revenues grow with each additional user. That means a provider might roll out a service provisioned to break even at 5,000 users. They will price the service to attract those 5,000 users. They will do anything to push the service into profitability at over 5,000 and the managers live in mortal fear of dropping below the break even number. That fear is what keeps service levels up, not the lawyers’ agreements.

    Service managers have another fear: that their user base will exceed another magic number when the service exceeds maximum capacity and the service falls apart. The best service providers (Netflix is one of my favorites) do a good job of expanding their service capacity just ahead of their user base. Pushing it too far ahead runs costs up without compensating revenue, slipping behind degrades service and threatens instant death.

    My point here is the TOS are terrible, but users have more power than the TOS, even though those powers are hard to exercise.

  6. So Amazon can change their TOS at any time without notice and if you don’t like it, leave. I understand that that’s the norm with many websites, but at least with a traditional publishing contract they can’t make amendments without your signature. Or am I mistaken?

  7. Funny and frustrating at the same time! I had only written about this last week, this will make a useful addition to link to, thanks! http://www.karldrinkwater.uk/2017/03/end-user-license-agreements-eulas.html

  8. I recently read the Pronoun Terms of Service agreement. It was okay, except that it stated that they could change the terms unilaterally without giving any notice, other than posting a copy of the revised ToS in the same obscure and seldom-visited spot. I wrote them saying, “You have all of our email addresses… why not at least agree to email notices to the addresses we’ve given you, etc.”

    I got a reply, saying they will think about it (but they probably won’t).

    Also recently read the Terms of Service for Wattpad, which I haven’t posted anything to yet–but probably will.

  9. Nine hours of this man’s life he will never get back. He could’ve gone out and volunteered in something productive.

    • One of the actors I knew always said the same thing when a gig sucked: ‘I did the job. I got paid.’ Rent. Groceries.

  10. I like the 22 minute mark or so when he takes a long pause, probably wondering why he signed up for this.

  11. I like your post. Of course, most of the peoples never read the Terms & conditions for sign up. Probably, I have noticed that why most of the e-commerce websites use long tail terms & conditions. It seems very boring to read. But, the users must read T&C conditions before sign up!

    Regards,

    John Pieter,
    Lawyers in Dubai

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