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Worst Terms of Service Ever 401

Popageorgio writes "Yale's Lawmeme features the most oppressive, paranoid web site TOS ever, found at the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum. 'Additionally, in the event that your actions in violation of this User Agreement result in our being deprived of our exclusive rights . . . you agree to pay us liquidated damages in the amount of five million U.S. dollars . . . . You agree to use only the provided permissions e-mail address (or other e-mail links on this website, as appropriate) and not to telephone us or content contributors with permissions or other requests, nor to attempt to circumvent the provisions of this agreement, and telephone calls placed in disregard of the foregoing will be charged at two hundred fifty dollars per telephone call.'(Emphasis theirs)." The museum acknowledges this is crazy, too -- read on for more.

The legal birdseed here (appropriately and manically illustrated in the manner of The Secret Guide to Computers) makes the copy on Dr. Bronner's Soap look sane; the user agreement ("Click on any link or image to indicate "I ACCEPT" the USER Agreement.") begins with a little blurb about why it's necessary, and asks you not to be put off by the legalese. That might seem disingenuous at first, but buried in the text is this note, too: "[Yes, we know that you think that all this legalese is completely ridiculous, and we think so too, but we also believe that current law unfortunately requires that it be done this way; So if you know of a better, simpler 'legally correct' way, do tell us how!]"

(Besides this amusing legal stuff, the site is actually very interesting, at least if you enjoy U.S. history and trains.)

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Worst Terms of Service Ever

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  • Hold up (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Real Chrisjc ( 576622 ) * <slashdot@amoo s e .com> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @08:59PM (#8215329) Homepage
    Hmmmmm. . ..I wonder how this will hold up in court?
    • Re:Hold up (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:15PM (#8215420)
      I always "Tab" to the "Click Here to Accept" link and then press "spacebar", thus passing by the whole "clicking" issue altogether.
    • by segment ( 695309 ) <> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:26PM (#8215480) Homepage Journal
      You know I always wondered if I decided to create a hellishly long page called a term of service, which most people will never read, and insert the term "You agree by clicking on the link to pass over your life savings to $NAMEGOESHERE" if it would hold up in court.

      Call it stupid, moronic, but according to these so called terms of service agreements, if someone did click on the link, in theory I should be able to track down users via their ISP's and stake my claim.

      Oh well... back to real news "Priests need love too []"

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:36PM (#8215546)
        I'm pretty sure your post was in semi-jest, and IANAL, but here's my $0.02.

        Terms of service bind you in a contract with a company or individual. These terms, while defined by the company, need to be within reasonable limits and with a justification. For instnace, if you bail out of a cell phone contract early, it is reasonable that they charge you $200 for what you would have brought in over the next 2 years of your contract.

        Also, and i may have seen this from watching too much Judge Judy, but because something is in a contract does not mean it is binding. For the obvious example, if someone had a contract that required an illegal activity (like human slavery or prostitution) that contractual agreement is non-binding. However, i am unclear if the entire contract becomes null and void; I believe soley that clause or agreement is voided.

        As someone who hardly issues T.O.S. for client's websites, does anyone have a suggestion on a good medium point for T.O.S's?
    • Re:Hold up (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:26PM (#8215483) Homepage
      This reminds me of an old alt.flame thread when Kebin was trying to claim that people had agreed to some assanine contract by reading his posts.

      The issue here is whether this is contract of adhesion. Are the terms usual? Is it likely that the user actually agreed to them? Is there a consideration?

      I don't think so.

    • Re:Hold up (Score:5, Funny)

      by jonfromspace ( 179394 ) <jonwilkins@gmCOF ... m minus caffeine> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:35PM (#8215532)
      I don't click links anymore, I type them into IE!

      Sorry /troll
    • ...Minors not allowed to view the site withoutsupervision of parents/guardians ...

      Which means many slashdotters will now have to go and get out parents/guardians to watch the site :) uh.. oh! Did I just violate their TOS by posting a link on /. ?? btw, I like the Force Majeure clause (scroll down the permissions page to see how ) :they are not responsible if the website goes down due to earthquake or power failure. I wish they had also mentioned slashdot..
    • Re:Hold up (Score:3, Informative)

      by cfulmer ( 3166 )
      IMHO and IANAL (but I hope to be one in 2 years), so don't take this as legal advice:

      It won't hold up in court. Liquidated damages are supposed to be an approximation of actual damages incurred. If they're not, then they amount to an illegal penalty, which courts do not enforce. Here, neither the $5M nor $250/phone call is an approximation of their actual cost. As a result, those "liquidated damages" would be tossed out.

      Along that lines, if you cancel your cell phone contract 2 days before it expires,
  • by The Dobber ( 576407 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:00PM (#8215331)
    Think I'll call em from a pay phone, just for shits and giggles
  • Hrmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ooter ( 741986 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:01PM (#8215336)
    Are you sure this isn't the SCO Museum (which is hopefully soon to come)?
    • "Are you sure this isn't the SCO Museum (which is hopefully soon to come)?"

      What, you mean the one where they give you free souvenirs then sue you for stealing? Or perhaps the one with all the exhibits they say are there, and that any idiot can see, but when you go it is just an empty room?

  • how about 1800collect or 1800 callatt
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:06PM (#8215358)
    Do Not download or copy any images from this site.
    Fortunately I didn't violate this part as I use lynx
    for all www browsing. Others who use MSIE, Netscape/Mozilla,
    Opera, ICab, etc. can't say the same though.
    • Opera sure can.

      Just click 'g' before going to the website, and no pictures will be downloaded at all.

      Of course, this kinda ruins the who idea of a photography site, but hey - maybe they have cool ASCII-art trains.
  • No stereographs were harmed in the making of this website.
  • They may as well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mia'cova ( 691309 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:07PM (#8215365)
    They may as well ask for the moon. I doubt the even the courts read EULAs or web site agreements these days ;)
  • But they are a joke though, or are they?

    TOS [] (popup on main page [] but I know lots of people block popups)
  • But... (Score:4, Funny)

    by iammaxus ( 683241 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:09PM (#8215383)
    telephone calls placed in disregard of the foregoing will be charged at two hundred fifty dollars per telephone call.
    So if you know of a better, simpler 'legally correct' way, do tell us how!"

    So I'm going to have to pay $250 to try to help them?
    • telephone calls placed in disregard of the foregoing will be charged at two hundred fifty dollars per telephone call.

      I wonder if I could place this note next to my name in the phone book.

      Go ahead and violate the terms of my EULA you telemarketing bastards! ;-)
  • Oh shit... (Score:3, Funny)

    by gt25500 ( 622543 ) * on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:10PM (#8215390)
    Do not download or copy images from this website!<--- In CAPS too :o

    Can anyone recomend a good lawyer?
  • by Flavius Stilicho ( 220508 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:10PM (#8215391)
    There's nothing in the TOS about slashdotting the site. If they really cared, it'd be in there.
    • Just wait. After their Web server groans under the load and turns into a pool of jelly on the floor of the computer room, I bet they amend it quick. I don't know how one would enforce an anti-Slashdotting clause, though. Of course, DDOS attacks are a felony nowadays, so maybe they could sue Slashdot for facilitation. In a way I'm kind of surprised nobody's tried that yet, but on the other hand it is kind of a mark of distinction to have your Web server buried by a hundred thousand Slashdot technojocks.
    • Re:That TOS is WEAK! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Honkytonkwomen ( 718287 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:08PM (#8215682)
      Actually, about a thiord of the way down, it says:

      Suddenly increased, excess web traffic on this website as a result of your actions, including but not limited to publicity, reporting, or recommendations to others regarding this website on network television or radio or national publications or media, of more than one gigabyte of additional Internet data transfer per month, shall be at your expense, and you agree to reimburse for the resulting costs at the rate of the then prevailing additional data transfer charge made by the Internet provider(s) hosting this website."
      So I guess /. is screwed ;-)
  • by osmodion ( 716658 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:10PM (#8215392)
    "You agree to immediately notify by e-mail of any errors, ... or any other defects or deficiencies which you discover on this website . . . ."

    Should I tell them about the TOS?
  • by tscholz ( 614009 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:11PM (#8215396)
    That is the longest TOS page I have ever seen. Looks like they have used more time on the TOS, than on the rest of the site.
    • by zurab ( 188064 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:23PM (#8215456)
      They definitely spent more time on TOS than creating "original works" from public domain pictures from 19th century claiming copyright.

      If you read the "ORIGINALITY" section they claim it requires artistic and original skills to scan the images and save them as JPEGs; not only that, but in the process, an original piece of art is created (a requirement for copyright). Therefore, even though the original images are 19th century and public domain, they are holding copyright on their scans. By agreeing to their TOS, you agree that that's the case.

      I don't see how scanning public domain pictures calling them your own qualifies as an original work. It qualifies for extortion though:

      - get hold of a rare public domain document/picture/book/etc.
      - scan it and save scans as JPEGs/PDFs/whatever;
      - lock the original public domain work in a safe;
      - you've got a brand new never-expiring copyright and you didn't even have to produce anything!
      - sell the art and PROFIT!!!
      • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:42PM (#8215580)
        Put it this way: the only original work on the site is the TOS.

        And in a hundred years there will be a Web site (or whatever passes for Web sites in the next century) dedicated to the rise and fall of the American Empire. Exhibit A will be that TOS agreement, exemplifying the self-inflicted legal quagmire that brought America to its' knees.
      • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) * on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:10PM (#8215690)
        That actually is a legitimate business. The problem is getting access to the original document. Mueseums typically do not allow you to take a Van Gogh off the wall to scan it.

        Ever buy a print at the store? A reproduction of a work is a copyrightable work in of itself.

        • by dvdeug ( 5033 ) <dvdeug@e m a i> on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:35PM (#8215810)
          Ever buy a print at the store? A reproduction of a work is a copyrightable work in of itself.

          No, it's not, not in the US. BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY, LTD. v. COREL CORP says that a reproduction of a work does not get a new copyright, because copyright is given for creative works, and reproduction, especially an accurate one, isn't creative; it's merely a reproduction.
          • First off, IANAL, so this is just based on my own understanding. Just because some other case ruled on the matter doesn't mean anything. Copyright cases are decided on a case by case basis, and as such the Judge involved can disagree with a case that has precedent. Copyright cases are not that predictable. I think this is where a lot of people run into trouble with copyright. And, while a museum or a web site may not be able to hold a copyright on a piece of art, they can control access to it and make you
  • don't visit! scary! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:14PM (#8215411)
    I read through that and at first thought, that's pretty funny, I've been
    thinking of putting stuff like that on my own web site .. something about
    50,000 words long and at the end say "or you may simply ignore the above and
    choose the following Creative Commons license instead". The fact that it's all
    old public-domain stuff, hilarious!

    But looking around I began to wonder.. is it a joke or not? I'm not seeing any
    punch-line.. Maybe this guy is *serious*.. but how can you take it seriously,
    it defies logic. It's already illegal to make unauthorized copies, so what's
    the point? And he admits that it is ridiculous.. should I agree to anything
    "ridiculuous"? Would it stand up in court?

    If he seriously can't come up with a shorter agreement (hint: nothing gives
    visitors the right to copy stuff that isn't PD, so you don't have to do *ANYTHING*).

    Then I read his replies, and I'm starting to realize, this isn't funny like
    the /. poster seems to think.. this is FUCKING CREEPY. This guy scares me.

    Don't visit this site, this guy is probably collecting IP addresses and he's
    going to start stalking you or something. I'm almost afraid to write this..


    WHOA now everytime I press the submit button after visiting his site,
    konqueror crashes .. he's got some weird browser-crashing code or something .. wtf!!!! I'm using
    mozilla to post this now. ...
    • But looking around I began to wonder.. is it a joke or not? I'm not seeing any punch-line.

      It's in the second sentence. The first links go to lawyer joke pages.

      Using this site means you accept its terms. Don't be

      put off [] by the legalese [], but please read these terms and conditions of use carefully before using this website.

      My guess is that the TOS are official, more or less.

    • by Turmio ( 29215 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @11:21PM (#8216026) Homepage
      Relax, please.

      WE REGRET THAT DUE TO THE COPPA LAW, CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 13 YEARS ARE PROHIBITED FROM CONTACTING THE CPRR MUSEUM BY E-MAIL OR OTHERWISE, AND REQUESTS FOR HOMEWORK HELP OR OTHER INFORMATION ON BEHALF OF SUCH CHILDREN MUST COME FROM THE CHILD'S PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN. (While we're on the subject of dumb laws, we should point out that we are unable to utilize the child safe .KIDS.US domain because by including censorship provisions in the Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002, Public Law No. 107-317, "to prohibit hyperlinks in the new domain that take new domain users outside of the new domain," Congress made it illegal to link, for example, to the Library of Congress or the National Archives website, etc. from any .KIDS.US website.)

      Based on for example that snippet (2nd word REGRET has this link []) one might conclude that it isn't that serious.
  • by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 ( 718736 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:15PM (#8215419)
    since all of you unsuspecting /. ers have agreed to my license terms muhahaha
  • by Flavius Stilicho ( 220508 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:18PM (#8215431)
    There were 724,970 Visitors since 2.15.99.

    As of 8:16PM EST on 2.8.04... they're going to need a bigger hit counter.
  • How are these images under copyright, even?

    They were taken before 1930, the vast majority, right?!!?!
  • Can this poor website really survive a slashdotting? Perhaps some kind souls will provide a mirror...
  • by jdkane ( 588293 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:19PM (#8215436)
    ... except re-posting some of the TOS on other sites like Slashdot.
  • is a good slapping by the /. effect also a violation of their TOS?

    I recall several sites that their TOS dont allow you to actually read the site or the TOS.

    Not to mention briefly at the NYS DOH they had a policy that forbade you from (effectively) accessing the internet as it was their policy to not allow you to download copyrighted information.
  • Too long... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Da Weave ( 689799 )
    With a TOS that long, who has time to check out the rest of site?
    and no, I didn't RTFTOS, not completely at least.
  • NBA Tickets (Score:5, Interesting)

    by herko_cl ( 533936 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:20PM (#8215443)
    I bought NBA tickets a while ago via the web (for a team that shall remain nameless). I received an email with the transaction details, and below it says...
    "This ticket is a revocable license.The holder, on behalf of the holder and any minor accompanying the holder (individually and collectively, the "Holder"), agrees to all of the terms hereof."
    Then it goes on in excruciating detail about all of the stuff I can't do with the tickets I just purchased, and how by buying a ticket I grant them permission forever to use my image in whatever manner they see fit without paying a penny, etc, etc. By word count, that email is 19% transaction confirmation and 81% legalese.
    The nice thing is that "This ticket cannot be replaced if lost, stolen or destroyed". WTF???? They made it patently clear I had bought a license...
    Just thought it was sorta funny, in a sad way, and somewhat ontopic.
    • Can they really assert that you agree to all the terms that you didn't get until *after* you've made the purchase?
    • Re:NBA Tickets (Score:3, Interesting)

      by smkndrkn ( 3654 )
      Pretty standard...

      I went to the AFC Championship game (Patriots vs Indy) on the 18th and the back of the ticket reads (Spelling mistakes mine since I typed this manually :)):

      This ticket and all season tickets are revocable licenses. The Patriots reserve teh right to revoke such licenses, in their sole discretion, at any time and for any reason. Patriots may refuse admission to, or eject, any ticket holder without refund if the holder fails to comply with any applicable rules or terms, or is deemed to be d
  • It's a JOKE (Score:5, Informative)

    by wobblie ( 191824 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:24PM (#8215462)
    see their reply to Yale []

    A damn good joke too, I might add.

    • No it's not.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by bcore ( 705121 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:53PM (#8215627)
      They are serious, although it's written kinda tongue in cheek. They just didn't have a real lawyer available to write it for them, so they tried to make it all inclusive.
    • Re:It's a JOKE (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kris_lang ( 466170 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @11:13PM (#8215983)
      It's not a joke. Look at the text you pointed to: It is very expensive and time consuming to acquire and artistically
      restore historic photographs, and we wanted to share thousands of
      these wonderful images by placing them online for free viewing by the
      public without inadvertently giving away the publication rights which
      need to be retained to make our and other museums financially viable.
      They have in fact done more than simply scan public domain images. They have scanned and cleaned up public domain images: this cleaning up and de-noising is what constitutes the "creative" aspect of their work. They want to retain their copy-rights (see what the word means now?) to be able to reproduce these pictures possibly in book format and sell them to recoup their expenses and perhaps also for profit.
      If they didn't have TOS that said DON'T COPY THESE, THESE ARE OURS, someone else could come along and take their photograph clean-up work and profit from them giving none of the benefits of the work to those who produced their work. Now I agree that I can't claim to know how much work they did unless I could also see what the photos' scans looked like before the clean up.
      And as for their phone number call charge, it's effectively the way to stop people from spamming their phone number. They're saying: Listen, we're NOT offering licenses to reproduce these images in any other medium to anyone else, DON'T BOTHER calling us to ask for this. IF YOU WASTE MY TIME by calling me at this number, I'll CHARGE YOU.
      Isn't this exactly what most ./'ers are ranting for on the other stories about unsolicited faxes and unsolicited emails? I may not agree with all of the TOS of that site, but I can at least see the necessity for this from their point of view. They're allowing amateurs to look at these wonderful photos which they've cleaned up, but THEY'RE NOT RELEASING THEM under a BSDish license which would let someone else profit from their work, and they're making it clear that everyone visiting the site is made aware of this.
  • This TOS is also going to be in some museum one day :)

  • Good idea actually (Score:2, Interesting)

    by avc ( 621144 )
    There is a lot of funny stuff in it, I like this one most:

    For example, if you write informally to ask us about using one or more images that you saw on the website and ask what the request will cost, while not specifying a price limit, you are thereby requesting and authorizing us to fill your order at a price consistent with the Use Fee Schedule and the terms and conditions of this User Agreement, and to let you know the total amount due for the license by sending you an electronic invoice whic
  • IANAL, but from what I've heard from lawyers regarding terms of service I've had to place on sites, the concept is called a "click wrapper" and is as legally valid as a written contract, especially if you make users actively agree to it by clicking a button and/or checking a box to continue. The concept is the foundation of e-commerce, because without it you couldn't legally agree to anything online.

    Now, I once took a class in criminal law (community college, so again IANAL - this is just something I con

  • Holy crap... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 602 ( 652745 )
    ...this guy's got a LOT of time on his hands.
  • orkut ( (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maelstrom ( 638 ) * on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:36PM (#8215539) Homepage Journal

    Is it just me or does google just keep getting slimier?

  • by jjon ( 555854 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:36PM (#8215543)

    You are not permitted to, and you warrant and agree that you will not do or facilitate any of the following:
    (9) engage in any activity that may or will directly or indirectly impose a disproportionately large, unanticipated, or unreasonable load on our website bandwidth or infrastructure

    Oops! Did the submitter read that? I hope the submitter didn't agree to their terms of service - they might try and charge him:

    You agree not to take any action that will impose a disproportionately large or unreasonable load on our computer web server(s), network, or other infrastructure. Please be mindful of the large amounts of data transfer needed to allow viewing of the CPRR Museum web pages with multiple, large images, and avoid suddenly flooding the CPRR Museum website with large numbers of unanticipated visitors. Suddenly increased, excess web traffic on this website as a result of your actions, including but not limited to publicity, reporting, or recommendations to others regarding this website on network television or radio or national publications or media, of more than one gigabyte of additional Internet data transfer per month, shall be at your expense, and you agree to reimburse for the resulting costs at the rate of the then prevailing additional data transfer charge made by the Internet provider(s) hosting this website.

    • by mpoulton ( 689851 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @10:53PM (#8215902)
      The courts have held repeatedly that there is a "right to link" without the permission of the target. Whether agreed to or not, their license agreement cannot prevent anyone from linking to their domain. The overreaching hyperbole that permeates these terms of service is so extreme that I would imagine a court would hold the entire agreement invalid.
  • Satire? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by alakon ( 657771 )
    Did anyone notice that the first link on the page is to the "Lawyer Joke Emporium []"?

    Does anyone here read The Onion, or any other satire? If you didn't get the joke, go read Swift's Modest Proposal [].

  • Sigh, I'm such a sci-fi geek.

    When I read "TOS" I read "The Original Series" as in ST:TOS. I had to read that twice to understand they meant Terms Of Service, and now every instance of "TOS" in the comments gets me the same result...
  • As pointed out by one of the posters on the LawMeme site this is actually a spoof and a good one at that.
    Look at the bottom of the page: No stereographs were harmed in the making of this website.
    and another one: The author of this publication is, a pseudonym. The author, an individual scholar who is not a Counsellor at Law, asserts moral rights.
  • Parody (Score:5, Informative)

    by screwballicus ( 313964 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:43PM (#8215590)
    Well, they refer to it as a "functional parody" [], so I'm thinking that at least to some extent this isn't supposed to be taken seriously.
  • It would see that aggressive TOS with an embedded email address would be an interesting way to snare spammers. With the address only available on the TOS page (and surrounded by nasty terms), any spams to that address could only occur if the spammer "read" the TOS. I don't think it would be entrapment if the terms were reasonable (e.g., a $20 reading and handling fee for use of that address).
  • This is really stunning. Some other interesting choice bits:

    A link from another website to this website grants permission for a reciprocal link including, at the option of, the linking website's logo, banner, or image derived therefrom, and permission, but not an obligation, in the event that such reciprocal link(s) becomes for any reason inoperative, for to mirror royalty free any internet content, or portion thereof, that would otherwise cause a broken link, or to use a third-p

  • Kill that EULA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by burtonator ( 70115 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @09:54PM (#8215630)
    I actually wrote a bookmarklet to bypass EULAs.

    It just finds he first 'textarea' and replaces the content with a given payload.

    Then when you click "I Agree" you aren't actually agreeing to their EULA.
    [] /K illThatEULA/

    Granted I have no idea if it's legal but who cares... it's all fun :)

    So in this case you could hack the bookmarklet to replace the EULA with something like:

    "All Your Base are not belong to Central Pacific"

    and then hit the "I Agree" button.

    It doesn't work for everything but at the very minimum you could search the page for "I Agree" and replace it with "I DON'T AGREE YOU INSENSITIVE CLOD!"

    Gotta love the DOM!

    Of course this will only work if they are checking CGI params but most web monkey's assume their HTML is readonly.

  • Any access to or use of this website or [...] or sending the character string "/I_ACCEPT_the_User_Agreement/" to our web server as you must do to gain access to our images, or [...] or the like, all indicate and signify that "I ACCEPT" this user agreement [...].

    This is a neat trick, but I don't know if a judge would fall for it. However, later on the same page, they have an image (the SpamCop button) loaded from: r_Agreement/logos/spamcop.gif
    So simp

  • Oh YEAH?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hwatzu ( 89518 ) on Saturday February 07, 2004 @11:44PM (#8216123)
    I'm going to change my hostname to "you_agree_to_let_me_take_any_image_from_your_site .by_including_this_host_in_your_logs_and_permittin g_me_to_connect". If it shows up in their logs, it's conclusive proof that they wanted me to take things from their site.
  • by fireman sam ( 662213 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @12:40AM (#8216377) Homepage Journal
    I thought by forcing a user to agree to an agreement that could not have been viewed before agreement would cause the agreement to be void.

    In this case it states "Click on any LINK or image to indicate "I ACCEPT" the USER Agreement." Where User Agreement is in fact a link. Hence, you have agreed to an agreement which you were unable to view before agreement.

    This is the same as placing stickers on CD/DVD roms stating "by opening this packet you agree to the enclosed User Agreement". The user agreement then would go on to say "...You are to sacrifice a virgin on every full moon (or in the case of /. users, themself on the first full moon)"

    • by canthusus ( 463707 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:16AM (#8217122)
      In this case it states "Click on any LINK or image to indicate "I ACCEPT" the USER Agreement." Where User Agreement is in fact a link. Hence, you have agreed to an agreement which you were unable to view before agreement.

      You don't even have to visit the website to agree:


      But that's quite a long way down the 20,000 word document, so you may not have noticed...

  • by pbryan ( 83482 ) <> on Sunday February 08, 2004 @01:02AM (#8216481) Homepage
    Interesting tidbit when you view source...

    <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script&g t;
  • by jms ( 11418 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @02:08AM (#8216710)
    The best part is the parts that talk about how you can license images from them for commercial purposes:
    By submitting your request for permission or permissions inquiry, you are obligating yourself and your organization(s), if any, to license, immediately pay for, and to actually make use of the image(s) or other content requested in the manner as set forth in your application, should permission be granted.

    Abandoned application fee: There is no application fee, but you will be charged a one hundred U.S. dollar non-refundable abandoned application fee per e-mail for EACH AND EVERY E-MAILed "Request for License to Reproduce Still Images," permissions inquiry, follow-up, or other permissions related e-mail that we receive from you that fails to ultimately result in your licensing at least one image or other requested content, including but not limited to e-mails related to image selection, questions, billing, and collection of fees, except that no abandoned application fee will apply if you submit a complete application in your first e-mail but none of the images that you request are available for licensing. Also, we may, at our sole discretion, deem your application to have been abandoned and charge the abandoned application fee if you fail to respond to each of our e-mails within 72 hours, if you reject a license which we approve in response to your request, fail to make timely payment as required herein, or tell us that you do not want a license.
    Ok, that's obnoxious and draconian. But here's the real kicker. The part that made me almost keel over with laughter
    If a requested image is of lesser quality than another similar available image, we may, in our sole discretion, substitute the better quality image.
    Translation: If you even ask us about licensing an image, you are obligated to pay us for the image. Then feel free to sit back, cross your fingers and hope that we decide to give you the image you paid for, instead of another image that you don't want or need.

    I mean, holy freaking shit!

  • by kaltkalt ( 620110 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @02:08AM (#8216714)
    Hah, five million dollars liquidated damages ... completely unenforceable. No court would even think twice about it. Large liquidated damages provisions in contracts are not enforcable.

    Section 356(1) of the Restatement (Second) of Contracts (which is pretty much universal contract law across America) states:

    (1) Damages for breach by either party may be liquidated in the agreement but only at an amount that is reasonable in the light of the anticipated or actual loss caused by the breach and the difficulties of proof of loss. A term fixing unreasonably large liquidated damages is unenforceable on grounds of public policy as a penalty.

    From what I know, this basic principle of contract law is the same pretty much everywhere. Liquidated damage provisions are most often used to offset the cost of delay in a party's performance of contractual duties. But of course, a reasonable fixed cost must be set. Can't be a penalty, merely a means of recouping a loss.
  • by Permission Denied ( 551645 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:50PM (#8219986) Journal
    If you read through parts of the agreement (or rather scan through it visually), you'll see that it's not "real" legaleze, but rather sounds like some layperson trying to write legaleze. For instance, "Spamming, as well as repetitive...": "spamming" is a term a lawyer would avoid using as Hormel holds a trademark on "Spam" and asks that it not be used in this context.

    I have a method for identifying legaleze, or for that matter, anything written by a lawyer: count the number of times the document uses "in the event that" and compare to the number of times it uses "if". "In the event that" is pure, useless verbiage which can in all circumstances be replaced with "if". It's simply poor writing and is not more "clear" or "exact" than "if", but I guess it's ingrained in lawyer culture, so they continue to use it.

    This document uses "in the event that" ten times, but uses "if" over eighty times. Looks like wannabe legaleze to me.

    Indeed, if you look at the bottom of the document, you'll find this:

    The author of this publication is, a pseudonym. The author, an individual scholar who is not a Counsellor at Law, asserts moral rights.
    I guess my point is that this isn't as funny as you would think: if it were an actual lawyer writing this, it would show just how bad things have become around here, but it's not some lawyer, just some random loony.

    Another possibility is that this man has just pulled off the most masterful troll in the history of the Internet by fooling thousands of Slashdot readers into rightful indignation. However, the document seems serious about some of the provisions about copying images, so this might not be the case. On the other hand, these more plausible sections may have been added specifically to ward off trollbusters.

    In any case, take it with a grain of salt. You might end up looking foolish if you say that this signals the end of American civilization.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley