Terms of Service documents are a pain to read
2015 02 12
I should probably stop including the class and week in the title. It is getting
a bit redundant at this point, huh.
Anyways, here's the other assignment for this week, a triple threat of documents!
I even read something no man was ever meant to read, the iTunes TOS!
Assignment 2: "Litreview2"
- This iteration of the iTunes TOS was updated September 17, 2014
- The Fedora Project Contributor Agreement is on a wiki (which doesn't allow
anonymous edits, so it's probably fine), and the last edit
- The Python CLA doesn't indicate any obvious date/time information.
- The iTunes TOS gets right to it in the first paragraph: "IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THESE TERMS, DO NOT CLICK "AGREE," AND DO NOT USE THE SERVICES."
- The Fedora Project Contributor Agreement is in place to ensure that contributions
are assigned appropriate licenses as to not impede the progress of the project.
It is clear to point out that "The FPCA is not a copyright assignment agreement."
- The Python CLA is similar to the Fedora document, but significantly shorter.
- This is a somewhat well-known quote, but the iTunes TOS indicates: "You also agree that you will not use these products [iTunes and associated services] for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture, or production of nuclear, missile, or chemical or biological weapons." You would hope that you could omit the part after "purposes prohibited by United States law," but apparently
they felt it was necessary to include that. As with other warning signs, it makes you
assume that someone did that at one point, so they had to include it?
- The FPCA is significantly more readable (and more concise) than the iTunes TOS.
The sections are also zero-indexed, so that's fun.
- The Python CLA is an outlier in this group of documents - the entire thing
is roughly 2 paragraphs, but (I assume) still does the job to not cause any problems.
That being said, it is easily the most readable and non-lawyer friendly document of the bunch.
- The iTunes TOS is so long! I assume it's partly to cover every conceivable issue
(including biological weapons), but I imagine it's also partly so they can sneak in
nefarious things without being too noticeable. They also forgot / didn't type
a word here, under the heading "POPULAR NEAR ME":
"Apple will, from time to time, automatically collect information related to certain [aspects?] of your App Store Products."
I guess it's hard to proofread a 15790 word nightmare, but that's pretty obvious.
- It's pretty nitpicky, but having the FAQ before the document that the FAQ is about seems
strange. In addition, I understand that it's for legal purposes, but the constant Use
of Frequent Capitalization on Defined Terms makes Reading it Pretty difficult.
- It's hard to find flaws in a document as short as the Python CLA, but I suppose having
time / date information on the PDF would be helpful.
- I've heard conflicting things - are TOS and EULAs actually legally binding?
- Can I still submit very small patches (typo fixes, etc) to Fedora without
signing / agreeing to the FPCA? Not that I'm opposed to it, but I'm lazy.
- Have there been disputes that make contributor agreements necessary, or are they more
of a "if and when" sort of thing?
- Reviewing legal documents seems weird. It's even more difficult because
I am not a lawyer, and I have no idea if they're any good. So, from that not-lawyer
position, these documents are dreadfully boring! While they vary in length
(iTunes obviously being the worst offender), they are written with so many
definitions and CamelCase words, they are nigh-unreadable most of the time.
The Python CLA is the most user-friendly document, but the link I was given
is on the subdomain legacy.python.org, so I'm guessing it was retired / updated
since this version was penned. I hope they didn't make it much longer...
2/5 <review increments>