Before you click I have read terms of service!

We have clicked ‘I have read and understood terms of service’ countless times without reading them, I am guilty of that too, but I was actually curious as to what I was accepting my life away to, so I decided to start reading them, and to my surprise it was a long online document composed of 256 pages, I did not understand how and when was I expected to finish that, so I went back to clicking accept, but I just had to know. So I compiled this blog post of what I found on the internet, you will find links to references at the bottom of the post.

But what are Terms of Service (ToS)?

Terms of service can be viewed as a contract you sign before you use the services of a website or application. It outlines what is required of you, and what is regarded as acceptable behaviour and what is not. All of this is to prevent abuse and to promote safety for fellow browsers and you must agree to it before having access to it or some parts of it.

From what I gathered on the internet there are different classes of ToS. The following is a list ranged from good “Class A” to a not so friendly “Class E” of websites we use on a daily basis.

Class A (SeenThis)

  • You are free to choose your copyright license
  • You can get your data back
  • Right to leave the service

 

Class B (GitHub)

  • You don’t grant any copyright license to GitHub
  • Changes can happen any time, sometimes without notice
  • You shall defend and indemnify GitHub Your personal information is used for limited purposes
  • Your account can be suspended and your data deleted any time for 

 

 Class C (Google)

  • Google keeps your searches and other identifiable user information for an undefined period of time
  • Google can use your content for all their existing and future services
  • This service tracks you on other websites
  • Google can share your personal information with other parties
  • Google may stop providing services to you at any time

 

Class D (YouTube)

  • Terms may be changed any time at their discretion, without notice to the user
  • They can remove your content at any time and without prior notice
  • The copyright license is broader than necessary
  • Reduction of legal period for cause of action
  • Deleted videos are not really deleted

Class E (TwitPic)

  • Twitpic takes credit for your content
  • Your content is for Twitpic and their partners
  •  Reduction of legal period for cause of action
  • You indemnify Twitpic from any claim related to your content
  •  Deleted images are not really deleted

So there you have it, a bit of sneak peek into the heart of ToS. But I haven’t answered your question right? What are you accepting your life away to? Here is  general building blocks of ToS.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS.png

To expand on the idea, here is what each section means.

  • Intellectual Property – This disclosure informs people that whatever media unique to your site is your property that is protected by copy rights law, and that will be your website, your web logo, creative visuals etc.
  • Termination – This will inform users that you reserve the right to terminate or limit user’s access to your website in cause of any rule violation.
  • Governing Law – This includes the country’s law concerning computer fraud and abuse and the implications of violating the laws. This will be the country that is hosting the website, and or where the headquarters of your company is at. This tends to be tricky because WordPress blogs are hosted in America and anyone around the world can create a blog hosted by WordPress.
  • Links to Other Web Sites This clause indemnify you from taking responsibility from any third-party webs links that are on your website. Your users should note that links provided do not necessarily express your views on that website and they have the right to open the link or not, and if they choose to do so, they should know it is their own risk. And also make themselves familiar with that website’s terms of service.

Okay, but now what is End User-License Agreement?

I also thought that a blog criticizing how long ToS are would be short too, but no, short doesn’t always means good. Now EULA, as it is referred to, is an agreement  between someone who purchases, installs, or downloads software, and the licensor or provider of the software. Same contract analogy but with software.

I can’t leave you without an example of course, I am not a monster.

EULA.png

So there you have, do not just accept but if you must do, at least you have a rudimentary idea of what you are accepting.

References:

  1. Terms of Service Classes
  2. Terms of Service Template
  3. End User-License Agreement Template
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