As I was looking around on the Internet for a terms & conditions to read when I came across a story about the terms & conditions of the British game retailer GameStation. In April of 2010, 7.500 agreed to the terms & conditions presented to them by GameStation. Every single one of the 7,500 either did not read it or did not read it thoroughly because by agreeing to these specific terms & conditions, they were granting the company legal rights to claim their souls.
By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should we wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from gamesation.co.uk or one of its duly authorized minions.
Of course, the terms and service were updated on April Fools, but this stunt did bring the one big dilemma that was also brought up by South Park’s “Human CentIpad”: Businesses are overstepping their boundaries. William Patry backs the businesses saying that it is not all the businesses fault. They are apprehensive in switching from a product that is working to a new product that has the potential to work. “Many businesses understandable worry about shifting from a declining volume but still profitable product to a newer product that may or may not become capable of generating substantial revenues.”(Patry, 2) It is understandable that companies would want to protect their product, but these companies are letting copyright interfere in their relationship with their customers. These copyright rules continue to widen the gap between the consumers and the companies. Companies are continuing to be sneaky with what they put in their terms & conditions, continually taking advantage of the fact that us consumers do not read the terms of service. Nowadays, companies try to walk a thin and mischievous line between being profitable and maintaining consumer satisfaction, but it really just comes off as being distrustful.
A lack of trust is starting to generate between the consumer and the company, and the reasons for that are demonstrated in both South Park’s “Human CentiPad” and the April fools stunt by GameStation. Throughout the show, Kyle is continually presented with terms and conditions of a different sort, and each time, he simply signs it, instead of reading the whole thing, which is something almost everyone in this world has done at one point or another. There is an overall trust in these big companies, demonstrated by Kyle, which hasn’t really been earned. Certain companies are taking advantage of this trust, and under the current copyright laws, what they are doing is perfectly legal. William Patry suggests that these copyright laws be reformed in a way that makes them effective, and I 100% agree.
Patry, William. “How the Copyright Wars are Being Fought and Why.” Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars. New York: Oxford, 2009. 1-41. Print.
Parker, Trey. “HumancentiPad.” South Park. Comedy Central: 27 Apr 2011. Television. <http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s15e01-humancentipad>.
“7,500 Online Shoppers Unknowingly Sold Their Souls.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 15 Apr. 2010. Web. 09 Sept. 2012. <http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2010/04/15/online-shoppers-unknowingly-sold-souls/?test=latestnews>.