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For example, when kolab says they should be, "To the extent permitted by the law", be excluded from any liability and be completely indemnify from all and everything, what does that actually mean? What does that mean for fit-for-purpose, or quality assurance, or to use a Swedish contract law: fairness in the contractual terms?
Here we got a Class A contract which I have no clue what, if anything, each party has agreed on. The only part I could reasonable figure as a contracted responsibility is that they will provide 30 days for customers to agree to the new terms if they decide to change prices. Also, customers are required by the contract to make private backups, which is quite an odd contractual responsibility to demand from customers. I doubt Kolab intended to be a contractual responsibility, but rather letting customers know whose responsibility it is to make backups if the customer wants that.
To draw a comparison, let's take a random HTML tutorial on the Internet. Pretty easy to read and lets you understand the gist of HTML. But it's too vague and ambiguous if you want to write a browser engine. So you need the formal HTML spec, which only experts can read.
Writing a browser = court case. Formal HTML spec = contract.
Either uninformed consent counts or courts need to start saying these contracts were not given informed consent.
Business-to-business transactions are however not subject to such protections. You can put anything you want in a contract (including unreasonable clauses) as long as it doesn't violate any laws.
The US is a common law country and as far as I know doesn't have this "reasonableness & fairness" principle for business-to-consumer contracts. In contrast to civil law countries, where judges tend to look at the spirit of the contract, common law country judges look at the letter of the contract. That's why old ladies can sue McDonalds when they burn their tongue on hot coffee. "Hey it's not written anywhere that I should be careful with hot coffee". And that's why US businesses have to put literally everything in contracts.
I don't tend to worry too much about TOS as it is questionable whether I have truly entered into a contract in the first place. Most of the more egregious clauses would never be enforceable (you can't sign away your rights no matter what the contract says), and most companies are smart enough not to test it in a court of law. Finally, if it all comes to a head, the worst likely consequence is that I will simply have the service cut-off.
In common law, the idea of "reasonableness & fairness" is there, too. It is simply not codified because it doesn't need to be.
With the exception of Louisiana, which is a civil law state.
I'd actually argue it's a need in certain circumstances. At the very least, a phone in general is a need, since it's required for quite a bit of functionality government-wise, and for many people (i.e. homeless persons), a cellular phone is probably the most affordable option.
But it would often obscure my general point to add in this nitpick so I avoid saying at first and only add it as a follow up.
Then this pulls the rug out from under the oft-made claim, "It's in the ToS, so it's acceptable", doesn't it?
In any case, in the US it's common in the medical field to be required to provide plain-English summaries of any contract that are at a certain maximum reading level (oftentimes 4th grade). These summaries are not legally binding per se, but if they do not accurately reflect the contracts and policies they summarize, there can be serious consequences. The same is also often true for government programs or private contractors which receive local or federal government funds for providing services to the public.
I would love to see this catch on for privacy policies and terms of services, though it may take legal fiat for this to happen (as it did in the medical and public sectors). Hopefully we can address this problem as an industry before it comes to that.
 This claim is not valid for a number of reasons, one of which being that ToS may contain clauses that are not even legally enforceable, or which may violate other laws.
 And depending on where in the country you live, you may be required to provide these in more than one language.
But contracts are intended to be understood and signed by ordinary people, on the assumption that one can understand it. Contract law itself, and in particular for civil law, the underlying theory is that a contract is a meeting of the mind where both parties understand what kind of responsibility and obligation there is. It seems only in recent time that this concept has been thrown under the table and contracts are written by lawyers, for the court, and people are just expected to sign it on blind faith that it all is fair.
tosdr goal seems to be fixing this, but I don't see how it ever could reach it. If the best contract in the market can't be understood, can't be read, then what can we do except ignoring the TOS and instead rate companies in how they behave regarding privacy, copyright, and QoS?
Until you get to corporate and contract law, then it's just a bunch of if this then that statements with subtle unstated implications.
You could almost say that the entire point of corporate and contract law is for one party to disguise intent, forcing the other party to hire a lawyer to try to divine the intent.
Not all consumer terms-of-service are quite so devious, because sometimes the intent is simple minimisation of risk and legal ass covering to avoid opportunistic sue-age.
But in high powered negotiations you'd better believe the other party doesn't necessarily have your best interests at heart, and a naive reading of terms can do you a lot of damage.
Would you say that VC term sheets fall into this category?
Copy Right .... Creative Commons
Terms of Service .... ?
I think a ToS Commons labeling scheme could be successful in providing TL;DR information for consumers, as an expression of intent followed up by the inevitable multitude of kilobytes expressing the same thing in legalese. This is also where the tosdr.org falls short as far as I can tell: instead of providing a list of tags that describe what the ToS in question mean, they apparently only rate them. That is not enough information to go on.
The only saving grace with FLOSS licenses is that they are not contracts, and only impacts those who seeks additional permission to distribute copies of a copyrighted word. If someone feel they don't understand the conditions which the license automatically grants permissions, they can always go directly to the author and ask them.
With company legalese, everyone has its own...
At that point they should be well-versed in reading licensing agreements because they're touching others' source code.
Firstly, contracts and licence agreements can be complicated, and there is a real risk that "dumbing them down" in this way will misrepresent either what they actually say or their real impact given actual laws that are relevant. Of course these things can themselves vary significantly from one jurisdiction to the next.
Secondly, there is always a risk that the information on the summary site becomes out of date.
Thirdly, the choice of which points to highlight and whether to present them as positive or negative often seems rather arbitrary and perhaps guided by the preferences of the TOSDR operators.
An example of being out of date would be the Steam entry, which says "No refund policy" despite this being changed a few days ago.
As an example of the final point about subjectivity, several sites are given a thumbs down for claiming varying degrees of rights to content you upload, yet Wikipedia is given a thumbs up for publishing your content under a free licence. Given actual laws with regard to giving credit/claiming authorship (moral rights/author's right/your local equivalent if you have one) that exist in many jurisdictions in addition to the usual copyright provisions, I'm not sure I see a big difference here in practice.
Several of the points raised, sometimes repeatedly, as negatives are also routine in B2C contracts and indeed probably necessary for the services to provide their intended functions -- the ability to change terms, for example, or transferring users' data in the event of an exit. In many jurisdictions there are legal safeguards that would allow for challenging unreasonable TOS changes or disclosures regardless of what any terms say, but the idea that any commercial service is going to fix its terms for all eternity with no mechanism for changing them even with notice is just silly (not to mention legally impossible almost everywhere), as is the idea that a business will promise not to transfer data about its users to any new owner.
"not just the web" ;)
Well, that and using open source software. Most of those dictates decide what to do if you want to use their code.
My degree calls for, unfortunately, very vertical programs that I cannot afford (3d design - Autodesk Inventor, Cateia, Solidworks). So I resort to piracy for my learning. I still feel wrong to make profit on pirated works.
However, I'm also learning FreeCAD as well how they develop it. This is what I use when I make money on 3d designs. I'd much rather it win out than things like Inventor anyday.
Inventor is a 3d parametric editor. You can make a simple gear, or you can make an engine and apply constrained motion as it would work in real life. We call this an assembly.
I have quite a few drawings that have over 100 parts in them. No big deal, so far? The problem is Autodesk Inventor wants to put a nag screen on everything you open, proclaiming "THIS IS EDUCATIONAL". That's fine for me so far...
Until you realize that it opens up the "THIS IS EDUCATIONAL" for every part, and including the assembly file itself. 101 dialogs? No. It crashes after 70 or so.
So, I went and downloaded a pirate copy. And l and behold, the pirate copy works better than the 'legit' one.
(Solidworks is $175 for student, and Catia has no student option. Creo or ProE just stinks.)
It's assumed that if you develop for Windows, it's going to be proprietary and a restrictive license. So the packagers have a click-continue EULA boilerplate.
And then the open source packager copy-pastes the GPL in the EULA screen.
It's annoying, but I have seen it rarely. Thank goodness that Apt doesnt do this.
Similar -> Uses Baysean classifier to classify privacy policies vs rely on humans maintaining. More coverage.
Previous discussion https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3222334
Their classifier is fooled by legalese which starts with a general statement and then adds exceptions.
You have the much-maligned reedit frontpage community to thank for this.
Do not attempt to remove the loyalty bracelet.
I would have expected hundreds of assessments at this point. Not twelve.
This is what you mean?
So far as I can tell there are exactly twelve assessments since 2012.
*Edit. Let me be tougher.
There have only been two new assessments in the past two years.
There have only been five new assessments since the first Wayback Machine snapshot of the page (October 2012).
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