Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
The Internet Your Rights Online

The 5 Most Laughable Terms of Service On the Net 399

nicholas.m.carlson writes "According to these five terms of service and EULA, Google owns any content you create using its Chrome browser and can filter your Gmail messages if it likes. Facebook says it can sell its users' uploaded images as stock photography. YouTube can keep footage of your kids forever, even after you've deleted it from the site. And AOL can ban you for using vulgar language on AIM. Funny, right? That's why Valleywag calls them 'The 5 most laughable terms of service on the Net.'" Reader dlaudel writes, regarding the previously-mentioned Google EULA for Chrome, "According to Ars Technica, Google's EULA for Chrome was just copy-and-pasted from its EULA for other services, a practice that is apparently common at Google."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The 5 Most Laughable Terms of Service On the Net

Comments Filter:
  • while funny, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mistahkurtz ( 1047838 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @05:53PM (#24865719)
    what happens if these companies decide to try enforcing the EULAs?
  • Licensing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @05:58PM (#24865825)

    Heh heh... Just the other day an acquaintance was telling me that his company won't use open source software because the GPL is "too restrictive" (huh?). So I suggested that he actually read the EULAs for the software they do use there. He just mutters something about communism and the conversation is over!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @05:59PM (#24865839)

    is none of them are legally enforcable

    by reading this post and moving your mouse or touching your keyboard
    you agree to assign all property to me forever

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:16PM (#24866013) Homepage

    "According to Ars Technica, Google's EULA for Chrome was just copy-and-pasted from its EULA for other services, a practice that is apparently common at Google."

    Why the hell do they think they need an "EULA" or "TOS" for a supposedly Open Source program at all? Doesn't Google run these things pas their lawyers? Or do they and this is the result?

  • Re:so what (Score:3, Interesting)

    by retchdog ( 1319261 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:17PM (#24866017) Journal

    And the scope of that is severely limited by very many state, county and city regulations, unless you happen to live in a libertarian "paradise". This is why contracts always have a clause like "If a portion of this contract is void due to conflict with laws, the remaining portions of the contract will still be in full effect." Contracts are not only legal instruments; like all human communication, they are also used to intimidate and establish a notion of security. Do yourself a favor and read up on the law; it takes about an hour at the library or online, and it can save you $thousands and a lot of pain...

    For example, I remember reading in the Seattle city code (in the late 90s), that if you ask the landlord for permission and funding to do reasonable minor renovations to your apartment, and don't hear anything within 30 days, it is an implied agreement. You may proceed, and if you present receipts, the landlord is legally required to reimburse you for costs up to something like $200. (I am not a lawyer; this is not legal advice, simply my recollection of my own experiences.)

    The difference is, the online realm doesn't have these community standards yet.

  • by floydman ( 179924 ) <> on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:21PM (#24866061)

    Man Finds $1,000 Prize in EULA []

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:26PM (#24866105) Homepage Journal

    This is why anonymity is so important on the internets. If you hold a magnifying glass up to anyone's life you are bound to find something objectionable if you look hard enough. So, multiple identities and anonymity is the only way to remain safe online.

  • Re:Licensing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:30PM (#24866147)

    That's (sort of) my point. You'd be surprised what people believe - or have been led to believe - out there. The guy I was referring to thought that if his company used any FOSS, for any purpose, then everything they'd ever created would have to be open-sourced as well. Beliefs like this aren't at all uncommon, in my experience.

  • Why are these funny? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:34PM (#24866203) Homepage Journal
    These are, for the part, free optional services. Much of this has been discussed before. Google is in the business of selling ads, and so needs to be able to do as it likes to maximize the ad revenue. If it owns your stuff, then it can mine it as it wishes. As far as sites that allow the free display of pictures and videos, they need to recoup some bandwidth costs as well. One might to sublicense the content to other providers. Another might be the media. For example, I wonder if the pictures of the Republican Baby's Daddy were republished for free, or if there were some standard fee involved.

    As far as deleting content, we all know that is BS. These users voluntarily unloaded the content. Not one forced them. They uploaded the content onto a free service and expect some privacy? That is like allowing some random house painters to paint you house for free, and expect all you stuff to be there when you get back.

    I have much more sympathy for the TOS when a product is free than when the product has a real cost. The free service has to protect itself from intellectual theft and harassment by lawsuit. If a video sharing site did not own the content, or at least a license to it in perpetuity, then these services surely would be sued by young teen unmarried mother who was foolish enough to post a video of her naked baby running around the house, only to be chided by her mother that such pictures were not good publicity.

    OTOH, the publicity of the TOS are good because they help educate the populous that nothing is truly free. The pictures, videos, and words you post can be used if and when there is a need for someone to so do. I am wondering if this is the year when a sex video has political ramifications. At least with words, you can say you were just playing around. So, I think as people get used to these free services, we will see a more sane approach to the situation. Honestly, this tech is just too new for social norms to have developed around them.

  • Facebook's EULA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PsyberS ( 1356021 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:39PM (#24866265)
    What strikes me as interesting is that Facebook thinks they can sell your photos you upload. IANAL, but I am pretty sure that unless I explicitly transfer the rights over to them I maintain all ownership and copyright control over any photos (that I took myself) uploaded to them. I don't think a blanket EULA can revoke my right to the copyrights. Am I wrong here?
  • Re:while funny, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by khellendros1984 ( 792761 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:46PM (#24866357) Journal
    It loses in court and EULAs die and "they" come up with something even worse.

    *Run through my reality filter*
  • Re:so what (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:50PM (#24866401)
    Y'know, I think that the UK would be a much happier place if everyone knew what "This Does Not Affect Your Statutory Rights" meant. It's everywhere in consumerland, at the bottom of every product guarantee for example. What it means in that context is that the guarantee is only in addition to your existing rights under the Sale of Goods Act, and doesn't affect those rights in the least. Lots of store managers and customers don't realise what massive power they have if they're sold a lemon. That's just one example. Some basic consumer rights should be taught at high school.
  • by jabithew ( 1340853 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:51PM (#24866403)

    You understand and agree, however, that YouTube may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of User Submissions that have been removed or deleted. The above licenses granted by you in User Comments are perpetual and irrevocable

    So they can keep it, but not watch it, broadcast it or transfer it elsewhere? Seems to me this is just to make sure you can't sue them for not wiping the file from their servers the nanosecond you tell them to.

  • Re:No problem... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jabithew ( 1340853 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:53PM (#24866435)

    This may have been modded funny, but is actually rather insightful.

  • Re:laughable? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Man Eating Duck ( 534479 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @07:01PM (#24866517)

    Guess what, not enforceable

    Guess what, that was my point :)

    If I send you a link to a jpg stored on their server, and you click it, you're accessing their content. No big difference between that and viewing a website with an image hotlinked from them (I have no idea if they've blocked hotlinking or not, and I don't really care).

    "The EULA is not only more ridicilous than we imagine, it's more ridiculous than we can imagine". (Haldane, I'm sorry)

    BTW, by reading this post you agreed to send me £100 monthly for ever and ever.

  • Re:while funny, (Score:4, Interesting)

    by umStefa ( 583709 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @07:19PM (#24866711) Homepage

    I am a professional photographer, and I do have clients who have posted pictures that I hold the copyright on to facebook.

    I have serious doubts as to facebook ever actually using posted pictures commercially, much less moving to sell them. The reasons are 1)there is no way for facebook or any purchaser to confirm that the uploader actually owned the copyright (thus exposing them to the statutory $150,000 penalty on images with a registered copyright... in this case thank you US congress!) and 2)even if the copyright holder uploaded the images any sort of commercial usage requires a model and/or property release if any identifiable persons or property are in the image, which facebook will not have thus exposing them to lawsuits from those depicted in the images.

  • Re:Facebook's EULA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Curmudgeonlyoldbloke ( 850482 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @07:33PM (#24866919)

    ... unless I explicitly transfer the rights over to them ...

    Facebook's linked EULA includes:

    "... grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, ..."

    I suspect that you'd need to prove that either (a) that clause doesn't mean what Valleywag think it does (tricky) or that (b) you were somehow unable to make an informed or free decision and that that invalidates the agreement.

    I'm not a lawyer either, but I suspect that (b) would be easier than (a) and that (b) may be easier in some jurisdictions than others.

  • by BungaDunga ( 801391 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @08:32PM (#24867571)
    Wasn't there a case of a news program basically ripping off someone's YouTube video, then the same guy uploaded to YouTube a recording of the original video being used on the program, and then got slapped with a DMCA notice.
  • Re:Verizon DSL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:35AM (#24872687) Homepage Journal

    Verizon can stop their customers from downloading whatever they want, as those customers can drop Verizon and go somewhere else. Violating the First Amendment is a government issue.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."