Best wishes with your health Richard!
This also comes to mind during mortgages and car loans. Often the closer will just hand you a stack of papers and say "you need to initial here, here, and here, sign here, here, and here" and then expect/anticipate the person to do just that without reading the agreement. The closer ought to know that the signer has not actually read the document and therefore the initials and signatures don't represent what they are meant to represent... that the person has READ the whole thing and mindfully agreed to it! Agh!
I am not a lawyer. Suppose a rental car matter ended up court. I would rather not have to say to the judge, "I spent 10 minutes thoughtfully reading and evaluating the contract, and after careful consideration decided to accept the agreement." I would rather be able to say, "Gee, it was printed in gray ink in tiny type on the back of the paper, and they told me to just sign here on the front to get the car. I needed the car, so I did what they told me."
I never accept the "standard contract" when it comes to employment or consulting gigs - then I always read carefully, propose alterations, and often talk to my lawyer. But if it really is a "standard contract" signed by millions (including, presumably, lots of lawyers, too) then I am inclined to balance the risks and benefits and opt for ignorance over informed consent.
I definitely would not do that with a consulting contract. The chance that something weird would come up is generally worth it to get a good client.
Yes, it's legal and enforceable. Your signature is on the contract that you sign, not on some mythical un-marked-up copy.
In fact, this is often a good negotiating tactic: someone hands you a contract, and they just want to get it signed.
You strike out the price and write in a new price (or whatever), initial it, sign it, and hand it back.
The psychic weight is now on them - they have a SIGNED CONTRACT and all they need to do is to sign it themselves.
Taking the conceptual step backwards from a contract (albeit only signed by one party) to a contract signed by NEITHER party is a bit hard to do.
In my experience, people and organizations often purposely make their contracts over-reaching just to be on the safe side, and expect savvy customers/partners to cross those overreaching items off.
Have you ever worked at a large company? Did this work?
I feel like at large companies, this would be like trying to modify the language of a car rental agreement, and the HR rep would just be confused.
Large company. East-coast based. Where non-competes are legal and common.
Working on the left coast, I demurred.
I got the left-coast version of the contract, no non-compete.
In other circumstances, I might request a substantial portion (up to or exceeding 100% of my salary, given that actual costs typically run 140-200% of salary) for the duration of any noncompete. Consideration.
In this particular case, when the property I was working for was divested (and riffed) some time later, I has fully unencumbered. Others had noncompetes, though these were not valid in that state. I'm not aware of any action being taken on the basis of that contract, but noncompetes can and have been enforced (notably recently between Microsoft and Google trading employees back and forth).
That said, this is precisely the sort of thing a labor union or professional guild would be in a very good position to make more acceptable standard boilerplate for.
When I bought a house (and later sold it), the day before, we had the title company forward all of the documents to our lawyer to review. When he gave his okay, I felt perfectly comfortable signing multiple documents that I never read.
For something like that, it's important to have someone with some knowledge go over things first. Was I really going to be in a position to slowly read over documents for 3 hours and potentially hold up closing just because I didn't understand a contract? No. So, it's best to let a lawyer do his/her job.
Probably a better use of time and money is to have them forward the documents to you, read over them the day before and ask a lawyer if you have any questions.
Buying a house is a bit different though, because you have the purchase agreement and then you have the contracts you sign at closing. We examined the purchase agreement in depth with our lawyer, since that is what sets the context for the rest of the transaction documents. However, once that was out of the way, there was no need for us to read anything - so long as our lawyer signed off on it.
It also depends on how much you trust your lawyer...
Right, which is why I suggested asking a lawyer if anything in the contract was unclear.
IMO, it seems like having the lawyer read it without reading it yourself is just deferring the decision to the lawyer. How can you convey to the lawyer what you're okay agreeing too, and what you would take issue with? What are you getting out of it above and beyond the "Everybody signs it, so it can't be too bad," approach?
What if, after signing the contract, you find out there's a clause you disagree with, but the lawyer tells you, "Oh, I didn't think you'd mind because that clause is in all of the contracts like this and everybody else is always okay with it."
Maybe it really just depends on how well a person knows and trusts their lawyer?
The lawyer is a profession. His or her job is to read and review contracts, just like my job is to write code. Does your boss rewrite every line of code you write? When you take your car to a mechanic, do you insist on re-doing all of the repairs yourself? So why are you insisting on rereading contracts that your lawyer has already reviewed?
It's the same argument for both law and programming. Badly communicated requirements yield bad results.
In these cases you really do need a lawyer who you trust has read the documents and is protecting you.
1. Government and HOA stuff was not changing. I could accept it or walk.
2. Seller stuff could change. We made some minor requests and largely got them.
We were spending 6 figures. The quality of my work would have a major impact on my family for a long time to come. I was newly married and this was my first family related big project. I was damn sure going to understand how interest rates and loans work ("whats a point?", "fixed vs float") and what legal junk we might be getting into.
I got a chance to learn a little about real estate. When life throws you a stack of legal documents, make lemonade.
I also got to vet out the agent. I work hard and have had some business success. I figured one day it would be time for another house and it would be nice to have a long term relationship with a trusted realtor on that one too.
Core point: it is your name on the document, it is a lot of money, it impacts your feature. Exactly how lazy are you to not read it?
I also would not trust my real estate agent explaining the contract to me. Just like you should never go with your real estate agent recommended house inspector. Your real estate agent may be the nicest person on earth, but they have a vested interest in the deal going through. It's prudent to find your own attorney and housing inspector who are not associated with each other.
Nobody really tells you these things unfortunately and it is scary as hell making that first house purchase!
If it's a three page contract, and you don't have an existing relationship with the attorney, you'll probably just be charged a flat fee of a couple hundred bucks, or nothing, depending on what sort of other business you might bring in.
All relevant documents had been e-mailed to us beforehand but you still cannot ask them to skip the reading. Being too careful can be annoying too.
Further, at offer time, the realtor read aloud every contract and answered questions we had about them. I don't feel that they tried to pull the wool over my eyes at any point. Perhaps it's different with other realtors?
- spelled my name wrong
- spelled the company name wrong
- claimed that I was an electrician
- listed my job title as 'oner'
None of these are terribly material errors, but they demonstrate just how frequently errors occur in financial documents. Frankly, it makes me queasy to imagine all the errors that could pop up in a mortgage document...
An obvious construction error. Just as one who plays piano isn't called a "pianoer", the account manager must have meant "onanist". Did you finally strike him in the face with your gloves?
But those are only a few pages. The rest of the documents you have to sign when closing a real estate purchase are mostly boilerplate disclosures about mold, asbestos, flood zones, penalties for fraud, etc ad nauseum. Anything that's actually important in the disclosures you'll already know about if you did your pre-purchase investigation properly. So there's no point in wasting time reading those disclosures in detail during the closing.
It's effective precisely because you don't expect it to be used as a weapon against you.
They said I was the first person to ever ask. :/
After my first arrest, they would not release me until I signed a paper saying that I received all my property but would not let me inspect my property first. They put my bag of property on the floor across the room and said I could stand about ten feet away from the bag to look at it. Needless to say, once I actually received my bag, I found that there was property missing. Nothing of great value (a hat, a bandana), but it was still pretty irritating.
Wouldn't that the document since it was signed under duress?
Or maybe he should go through the legal system? He'll spend more money fighting it than anything he lost is worth. And it'll make his life a lot harder.
I'd love to see him fight it, but I certainly don't look down on him for not.
If there's one thing I've learned about the legal system from my arrest and court experiences, it's that just because the police do something wrong does not mean that you can stop them from doing it. People don't get their miranda read, they don't get to make a phone call to let anyone know where they are, they don't get their medication, they don't get a meal in line with their religious or dietary restrictions, they don't get a clean bathroom, and they certainly don't get treated with any modicum of decency. Well, it's not really anything you can prove and even if you could a judge won't care much because it's hard to assess damages for intangibles like that and the public won't care much because you broke the law and deserve what you get. It's a pretty fucked system.
That's not to say Stallman's experience did not happen, but it is certainly not the norm.
If you want to fix things, seek the truth before making decisions on obvious falsities.
Whether those clauses are 3000 pages long or 3 pages long isn't much of a concern here.
If you read an article, the author is responsible for putting the words in it, whatever the original source is. The author can make mistakes, because authors are human. I'm just saying that it's a possibility he misquoted the number in his article, a possibility I stated to be less likely than other other source I suggested.
I understand the point of the article. I was responding to a couple of comments that were acting like this 3000-word thing was real, when it clearly isn't, and drawing conclusions about how crazy beaurocracy has become that documents get so long.
So if he was incorrect, about what was he incorrect? Nowhere does he say the document was 3000 pages long, he says he was told it was 3000 pages long (he may have been be embellishing, the person he was quoting may have been exaggerating, but he was not incorrectly stating the document to have been 3000 pages.
Yay, I finally didn't mistype his name.
I don't know how to make it clearer to you - even the snippet you quote is my words talking about him possibly not recalling the story quite right. I'm not saying he stated it was 3k words, but that it's possible that his recounting of another person's words might not be remembered correctly.
I have no axe to grind against Stallman, and if you look through my posting history, you'll see that there's been a few times that I've defended him against people who attack him as a figurehead rather than on the merits of what he actually said. This is partly why it's so frustrating for me to be taken out of context here and condemned for it.
I've also been misspelling bureaucracy... I thought it looked odd that way.
On the other hand, perhaps the legal mechanism of EULAs is simply that the software won't let you use it until you click "I Agree" - but I would have thought there would be some legal basis where if you don't agree, you have no usage rights, hence it being a "license". It's murky.
If you buy a CD, it's copyrighted, but you can still do whatever you want with it (unless what is limited by law).
A doctor friend mentioned that even if the patient agreement allows "advertising and marketing", a medical practice still has limits on what they can do before the Medical Board would pull their license, or potentially feds busting them.
These documents are not upper bound promises, they are lower bound warnings.
She clearly blamed me for wasting her time, since other patients obviously sign the form and get on with it. I actually think the problem here was that the form was too short, and so I felt that I could actually reasonably go through it, as opposed to a lengthy legalistic form that I couldn't possibly be held to in court if it turned out to be unfair.
As a rule of thumb, however, the wise one treads carefully when dealing with someone who is about to have her in a particularly vulnerable position.
On one hand I feel some compassion for the onerous regulations and malpractice issues that require medical practitioners to pay for very expensive legal requirements.
On the other hand, they should follow their own policies without complaint!
Whatever else a medical professional of that type's job is, it is public-facing. That has implications up and down their practice, but one of the most basic is that they are expected to treat patients with dignity and respect.
I grew up around the medical world, and someone who acted like her would not have a good reputation among her colleagues, and it wouldn't matter if she was a DDS, MD, APRN, RN, or what.
I've had various people come up to me with company offers and asking me to sign things, which, after I've read, I said, for example "I'm not authorizing you to use my email to send me things, so I'll strike this clause out". People (including the person who handed me the agreement) looked at me as if I were the most pedantic person in the world, or as if I were trying to make things fall upwards.
It's very disconcerting, because nearly everyone treats contracts as a "take it or leave it" affair. Sure, when you're getting a new phone, the employee doesn't have the power to agree to alter the contract, but in many cases you can do it.
Unfortunately, this option is taken away from us in online transactions. There is no legally binding way to change the text of the contract, and you are even forced to tick these "I accept the terms of ..." check boxes before proceeding.
The lawyers on the show mainly thought it was cute and not something that would be recognized in court.
If he were actually In Extremis, the physician/nurse/EMS would treat him under implied consent. Technically a patient of sound mind can refuse care but in practice someone who looks like rms (beard discrimination) ranting about his privacy would rather quickly be hit with a B52 (50mg Benadryl, 5mg Haldol, 2mg Ativan). Emergency providers are in a bit of a quandary as they must choose between the possibility of missing a subdural hematoma on a patient refusing care and facing a wrongful death lawsuit, and facing a lawsuit for unlawful imprisonment and assault.
It's a surprising statement for many reasons. First, I have traditionally thought of CC as somehow opposed to GNU, but here's Stallman releasing with CC. Second, it's a 2011 document -- had he not been to a doctor prior to 2011? unlikely, so maybe he just never noticed what he was signing?
Perhaps the most surprising thing is the "noderivs" part. One important text -- the GPL -- is also released as copyrighted, to discourage people from modifying the GPL in their COPYING documents in their repositories. But CC Noderivs prohibits any modification of this little snippet. I thought the whole point of free software was modifiability -- but Stallman doesn't think that this applies to free art? Meanwhile, it is not released as share-alike, which is the CC license which "copylefts" the work in the way that the GNU GPL acts to copyleft software.
Being able to modify and distribute copies of Stallman's 2011 narrative account of a doctor's visit doesn't seem (to me, at least) to implicate a similar right-to-your-own-devices rationale. Reuse in the artistic domain is more of a "remix culture" type of thing, which I think Stallman is sympathetic to, but it's not his core interest.
It's not true, though -- and this shouldn't be surprising. A short blog post is not at all the same as software, and so it's pretty normal that he'd treat it differently.
One obvious reason -- to get his views out, and to gain respect from people who don't know him, it helps for them to encounter him making intelligent comments on related issues. If he lets others republish his posts and essays (statements of opinion, mind you, not software or documentation) without attribution and/or edited, he loses that chance with no gain in exchange.
* The doctors cannot be blamed because they want to protect themselves (e.g. see the insane amounts of insurance required to practice medicine in the US to guard against suing by patients) and "the system" forces them to create such documents and have them signed.
* The patients cannot be blamed because, well, you don't want to sign your consent to a document that you haven't read and that may (and will) contain clauses that are clearly adversarial to you. But the issue is not just having access to the document, 99% of the people won't have the knowledge, let alone the patience, to parse such a legal document.
* The politicians are not to blame because they are just bowing to public pressure (and of course powerful lobbies) and many of these laws and practices are one way rachet-up, i.e. they can never be loosened (see, e.g. the overly strict sex laws in the US).
* The lawyers are not to blame because they are just being employed by people, i.e. they are not evil by themselves but may be put to evil use (similar to "guns don't kill people" defense).
For a recent example of suing madness (in a slightly different area) in the US consider that Nutella was sued and was fined $3.6M just because people couldn't read the clear nutritional sign (http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/02/10/133565759/a-mom-s...).
I don't know what the solution is. But the US healthcare industry is converging to disaster if we don't solve problems like this.
Another would be to create a consumer protection law that prohibits doctors' offices from doing certain things even if patients explicitly signed those rights away.
Tort reform is where I would start if I was working towards a solution. Tort reform is often not done because 90% (pulled from the air based on recollections of other vague memories of articles and statistics) of politicians are lawyers! This is also why I laws are so horrifically written with legalese making it next to impossible for a layman to understand. Returning to Common Law (over statutory laws) and trials with citizen juries would do wonders for dispensing "justice" the way "the people" see right and fit.
And desiring simple laws that people can read and understand is like desiring simple code that people can read and understand. Sure, there's lots of code out there written with bad practices, acquiring years of cruft and in need of some refactoring, but there's also massive amounts of code that simply cannot be reduced to a 'simple' state. Some problems are complex and navigating them requires precise attention to numerous details.
So it is with law. Some things can certainly be simplified. But the process of simplifying does not guarantee a simple result.
 and a heavily politicized one, at that. What many advocate when they say 'tort reform' isn't a shift toward simplicity and fairness but a shift past perverse incentives to litigate and to a perverse disincentive to even pursue litigation. That is: instead of protecting, say, doctors from frivolous claims, it makes it increasingly difficult to sue doctors with even valid claims. And that's no better a situation from the neutral point of view.
"Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it" In the OP, rms is taking the pragmatist approach and is willing to suffer the complexity, i.e. reading the huge binder if it could've been found. The solution is to reduce the need for doctors to hide behind such high legal walls.
In order to break the chicken and egg problem, a more effective way, I think, is to inform the public. For example, in this case how many people have even thought about what that consent signature means (I signed a form like that just yesterday) but if the consequences are made widely known than the public may pressurize the politicians to make changes. Nothing gets the attention of those guys as public opinion.
Additionally if the organizations obtaining signatures knew the people signing them knew the law and what's binding, they might actually ensure that things are done correctly and mindfully since the odds of a signature (and contract) being challenged is greatly increased.
Did you even read the article? It clearly says that Nutella was sued because it had misleading advertising, saying/implying that it was healthy, when in reality it contains a lot of sugar.
I know that Coca-Cola is bad for your health (it's pretty obvious that any sweet drink is bad for your teeth and makes you fat and probably not any less thirsty). But I would still want the company fined if it advertised Coca-Cola drink as being healthy.
BTW, you can go to this site (https://nutellaclassactionsettlement.com/FrequentlyAskedQues...) and claim up to $20 if you've bought Nutella, no receipts asked (until the allocated $2.5M runs out).
EDIT: It occurs to me that I should mention that there is no place for the other party to sign on the document in the first place. There may have been a photocopied signature already on the form.
Your signature on the document is there to refute any future claim you might make that you were not presented with the privacy information.
I'm assuming the privacy form is a separate document. If it is part of a larger document then perhaps that document also includes elements that make it a contract. In that case the lack of signature on their end is probably not a problem.
It's a common belief that contracts must be in writing and signed. In fact only certain kinds of contract must be in writing and signed (the biggies are contracts that cannot be performed within one year, contracts that transfer interests in land, and contracts for the sale of goods for $500 or more).
Otherwise, all you need is for both parties to have agreed on the terms of the contract and a thing called "consideration". Consideration is a subtle and elusive concept but roughly it means each person obligated under the contract is getting something valuable in exchange for taking on the contractual obligation.
If both parties agree to something and both uphold their end of the bargain then it doesn't really matter whether or not they actually managed to form a legally enforceable contract. That only matters if something goes wrong and one or more parties want to use the courts to enforce the contract or win damages for breach of contract.
If you have to sue someone over a contract you'll have to prove that there actually was a contract formed with them. That will be a lot easier if the contract was in writing and you had them sign it.
In this instance by presenting you with the form they likely legally signified their willingness to enter into the agreement.
My old employer had a "non-compete" contract they wanted new hires to sign along with the rest of the employment contracts. The stipulations were basically that you couldn't work for any competitor within a year of leaving employment with them.
I disagreed with it on principle and signed the rest of the paperwork, but not that one, and no one ever mentioned it.
Now you're saying that I am bound by a contract I did not accept? How's that make sense? What about Kevin Smith at Paisley Park?
But my guess is that probably no - you signed everything else but not that - that's not acting as if you agreed to something, that's acting in a way that differentiates that document.
Had you signed nothing (that is treated everything the same) but carried out your duties, accepted pay and so on then you're more likely to have been bound by it along with everything else.
Ideally of course you would have stated clearly that you weren't signing it - it's still a bit ambiguous - though the overriding thing is that it's normally too expensive and too much effort for companies to enforce them anyway, especially if there is ambiguity.
Worth noting that in a lot of countries (for instance the UK and I believe the EU generally), non-compete clauses, certainly the generic sweeping ones, usually aren't binding as they're a restraint of trade and therefore violate competition law.
As you changed the document, it may or may not be binding. Effectively you offered them new terms, and I wouldn't like to speculate as to if they accepted them (e.g. by treating you).
Contracts aren't valid unless both parties have accepted them. The doctor's office can't accept a contract they haven't read yet, and any changes to a contract make it a new contract.
It went like this:
Receptionist: "You need to sign this privacy consent form."
Me: "I don't agree with that form so I won't sign it."
Receptionist: "Well if you don't sign it we can't help you."
Me: "Ok, how about this, give me another copy, I'll just mark it up a bit and we can both sign it, ok?"
Receptionist: "Uh, I guess so."
...I take the form, add various and sundry financial obligations, and restrictions on what they can do with my data, add a line at the bottom "representative date"....
Take it back to the receptionist.
Me: "Ok put your initials here, here, and here and sign at the bottom."
Receptionist: "Uh, ok."
Me: "Both copies, thanks."
I then asked on the way out where their legal office was. And and gave them one of the signed copies. The last I saw was that receptionist looking at their marked up form with a very puzzled look. :-)
They have two choices: Treat him as if he signed nothing binding at all, or accept his version of the document.
"There is no real confidentiality of medical records in the US, since the police can get them under very easy conditions."
Very true. And sometimes police can obtain information without even having to ask.
I work for a regional pharmacy outlet and it is the company policy to transmit Pseudoephedrine (PSE) Sales Log Records to the local police department every week.
After writing a memo stating customers/patients should be at least given an informed consent that the information they are required by law to provide in order to purchase PSE is then released to the local police department - an act not required by law. I was told that PSE sales information is not considered Protected Health Information under HIPAA and thus not a breach of Federal privacy law. Granted since PSE is an over-the-counter product its purchase does not technically qualify as a 'medical record'. However, because PSE is purchased 'behind-the-counter' at pharmacies in the U.S. I believe there is a reasonable expectation of privacy on the public's part in this regard.
The Board of Pharmacy in an e-mail clarification to this memo did not address HIPAA compliance but merely stated that the methamphetamine unit officers were 'approved' to receive such information and for all pharmacies to please kindly comply with their ongoing methamphetamine combating efforts.
I've taken a personal policy to comply with the company policy - having higher educational debt cheapens the price of selling one's self - but to openly share what is done with the records if asked. So far no one has ever asked me what is done with the records.
If this sharing were occurring based on scans of customer loyalty cards or the like, I would be more troubled.
Recently I tried to purchase a small stereo, one of those tiny little ones that just play radio and a CD. They demanded that I provide full personal information in order to give me my receipt. I know that demanding personal information in order to print a receit is illegal here. So I question the attendant. She says she can only print it with that data. So before I had a stroke, and after 15 minutes of stupid arguments, I go ahead and do what Stallman did: fill it with BS and negate the "I agree" thing at the end, signed it - bought the stereo.
That movie "Brazil" with the ridiculous 26bStroke6 form is not too far from reality now that I think of it.
<link href="stallman.css" ... >
Again, pretty minimal just a few rules and comments... and then this:
This causes the entire page to be red when you click anywhere so I
do not want it. Not sure why we had it to begin with.
That is an elegant solution to the problem.
Are they deliberately trying to discourage my application by burying me in expense and redundant bureaucratic busywork?
I suppose there are databases out there with diagnoses of patients and the medications they take, but there are no patient identifiers in these databases, so it's basically an anonymous batch. That kind of anonymous data is going to be important to make further advances in healthcare IT, and healthcare in general.
But then, that's how all contracts work.
The worst bit about this is that most of these services then go on to take a big fat steamy dump on our personal rights and our privacy (I'm sure I don't need to give any examples here!), and there's nothing we can do because we agreed to the terms that were "clearly" laid out infront of us before we even used the service.
Yet, this allow the signing person to add _other_ changes once the signatures are made, but this custom is useful in the classic 80% of the times (maybe 99% in this case).
A contract is a physical expression legal agreement which both parties are supposed to know about, it's not a magical piece of paper which enforces whatever's written on it.
I should note that in this particular case the chances of any of this ever mattering are essentially zero. Just letting everyone know, in case they think they can go out, buy a house and move a decimal point in the sales contract while nobody's looking.
The official at the Polish registration office gave me a photocopied Belgian registration form and told me to fill that in, fill the price and sign for the seller (in other words, forge the seller's signature).
I opened up the binder and started to read, but quickly realized it was humanly impossible to finish it the remaining time. Several other people sat down next to me planning to give blood, signing the form without even opening the binder. I figured OK well, they aren't required to read the binder, but simply agree to the terms.
What surprised me, was that a lady taking blood, promptly walked over and said skip the binder.
I understand the desire to maximum blood taken from volunteers, but something is seriously wrong, when the people taking blood encourage and purposely take blood knowing there isn't enough time for the full required procedure to be preformed.
Practices (meaning behaviors, not medical offices) like this should be shut down before they ever see the light of day, and confuse, inconvenience, and compromise the safety and integrity of thousands.
For example, Who in the hell reads their iOS terms and conditions that they agree to in order to see what changes Apple has made this week? Every time I download a new app or grab upgrades, it seems that I have to agree to their 90 or 190(?) screen terms and conditions. It would be bad enough to read it the first time, but could you imagine re-reading it every time they sent out a new one?
I love my iPhone and I'm not about to make a moral stand by not using it or worse by reading those damned things - but they don't sit well with me.
I complied but only because I was dealing with an otherwise reputable organization. It does seem like there's plenty of room for improvement in these situations.
It's not as simple as "find a new doctor." First of all, I'm on an HMO and my choices are very limited -- in most non-urban areas there may not be more than a single practice or hospital, which uses the same paperwork for all patients.
Am I supposed to put obtaining my pain medication, or potentially life-threatening care on hold while I hunt around for a new doctor? I've seen and signed similar policies while admitting my infant daughter to the ER with a 105 degree fever -- you ask how hard it can be? It is literally impossible. Obtaining health care services is not like shopping for a pair of shoes, and there are often no alternatives available.
It's even worse for rural people.
RMS has Eben Moglen advising him. I trust he can handle his contracts.
As webmasters, many of us act like stallman's doctor's office every single day. By asking clients to agree to (and making it oh so simple to skip, and oh so daunting to read) the terms of using our websites.
Wait... as a geek, I enjoyed the story. If I was at the same establishment as Richard, I would be laughing my tail off!
They lie, you lie ..
The signature itself doesn't carry a lot of weight. Signatures given under threat or deceit are void - which is why important stuff needs to be witnessed or notarized.
of course you'd have to fool handwriting analysis..
If it came out that you intentionally mislead the other person by signing [a false name] [to get out of the obligation], good luck, you're still on the hook and now have opened yourself up to potential criminal and civil fraud charges.
Don't think you can skirt not taking the stand. More than likely this will be in a civil trial and not taking the stand will be viewed by the court and jury that you are hiding something...
The hardest thing is picking which battles to fight. Fighting all the battles possible isn't an effective use of ones time.
The valuable lesson here is that one should not feel shy about calling attention to the contents of a contract nor suggesting a change.
I remember years ago I was looking for an apartment through an apartment finding service. That wanted me to sign a contract that stated I would would be "fined" if I were to rent ANY apartment outside their service. I quickly called attention to it and asked them to print out a new version. They agreed.
Pedantry is the brakes that the universe puts on the very smart to stop them acquiring too much power.
In an ethical sense, it should disturb us that we are being required to lie as a matter of course to lead our everyday lives.
I guess one good thing about picking an off the shelf license to accompany software, is that at least it's probably more likely that I'll read and try to understand it.