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Apple Forced To Clean Up Its Fine Print 127

Posted by Soulskill
from the by-reading-this-you-bequeath-me-all-your-possessions dept.
Barence writes "Apple has been forced to tidy up its online terms and conditions, at the behest of the UK's Office of Fair Trading. The company has redrafted its Ts & Cs so that it now accepts liability for faulty or misdescribed goods sold from its website or the iTunes store. Apple must also ensure that its conditions are 'drafted in plain or intelligible language' and that they 'do not potentially allow changes to be made to products and prices after an agreement is made.'"
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Apple Forced To Clean Up Its Fine Print

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  • Good news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by click2005 (921437) * on Saturday November 28, 2009 @01:15AM (#30252612)

    do not potentially allow changes to be made to products and prices after an agreement is made.

    As I've said numerous times, this is why EULAs are unenforcable in the UK. It does not stop Apple from adding a feature or function in the future and requiring the user to agree to new T&Cs. It also means they cant force an upgrade with new T&Cs without giving the buyer the option of a refund.

    • Re:Good news... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Renraku (518261) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @02:09AM (#30252802) Homepage

      Exactly as should happen here in America. If I recall there was a cell phone company that pushed a firmware update to a line of phones that removed its Bluetooth data capability and GPS functionality. Well, not really removed, locked is more like it. Locked until you decided to pay a few dollars a month to unlock them..they got taken to court but nothing ever came of it because it was said that a judgment favoring the plaintiff would remove incentive for companies to keep their products up to date technologically. Huh?

      • Thanks for that.

        Do you remember which company, and what phones?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jonbryce (703250)

          Verizon? Blackberry?

          I don't live in the US, so I'm not sure if that is the one the grandparent poster has in mind.

        • Re:Good news... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28, 2009 @08:24AM (#30253874)

          As a Verizon Wireless Blackberry Curve owner, I assume he's talking about this pile of crap. Verizon had a class action suit brought against them because they locked out GPS functionality to only work with their utter crap GPS service. This means you can't use it for ANYTHING, even non-navigation related things. So the suit is brought against them, what do they do? The assholes unlock it to work with just BlackBerry Maps (another crap application.) Yet they decide to fully unlock GPS on the other Blackberrys? I just want to know the logic behind this, to get people to buy a new phone (which makes them LESS money ironically)? Yeah, good luck with that Verizon, all you're doing is driving me away, in 2 months when my plan runs out it's time to go to ATT, land of the non-crippled, superior Blackberry. I urge everyone else to do so as well.

          • by Dun Malg (230075)
            The logic behind it is that it's your hardware, but their software. Verizon has always considered the functionality of its phones to be wholly and completely theirs to modify and restrict as suits their fancy. It's part of the reason why Verizon has far and away the best coverage, but hasn't completely eviscerated the competition. AT&T coverage may be mediocre, but I can buy a Canadian Google G2 on eBay, hack the OS six ways from sunday, plug in my SIM card, and it works.
            • by besalope (1186101)
              I have a Verizon Samsung Omnia (Windows Mobile). Thanks to sites like PPCGeeks and XDA-developers 'locked' features like this crap on the Blackberries is overwritten with custom roms and firmware that's available from dedicated individuals who are sick of this style of business model. Verizon does occasionally unlock some of features though, our GPS was unlocked for free in a firmware update. But as for tethering.. there have been Windows Mobile apps for YEARS that can tether via USB or Bluetooth and it
        • by trum4n (982031)
          Verizon Wireless, Motorola V3* RAZR. I was a victim of this bullshit. You can't even charge the phone from USB with out the VERIZON driver for it. Even an off brand or original Moto charger that dosent say Verizon wireless on it will give you an "Unauthorized Charger." *walks in the direction of sprint*
          • My Verizon LG (one of the low-end numbered phones) gave me an "Unauthorized Charger" error when I failed to plug the charger in all the way one day...
            • by trum4n (982031)
              in my world(electrical engineering) we have the pinout as:Power, Ground, Verizon(aka the PROOF pin) if that 3rd pin dosetn make contact, the phone can still charge, but the software prevents it to make more money for verizon. Frankly, i hate them.
          • *walks in the direction of sprint*

            Ha! Sprint? Wait until you see what their proprietary firmware does to your phone. Verizon is probably worse now, but only because they took Sprint's castrated firmware strategy and ran with it. Most Verizon and Sprint customers don't even know what their phone's real software looks like. AT&T is probably jealous they haven't been able to keep up, but I'm sure they're working on it.

          • Something tells me the situation is more complex than you think it is.
            http://www.girr.org/mac_stuff/usb_stuff.html [girr.org]

            I've never heard of a vendor *supporting* third party power supplies in other forms, so USB power supply & draw specs sound like they need to be nailed down a lot tighter to be taken seriously.

            • by trum4n (982031)
              USB power is 5v, 0.5 amp. That's all there is to it. the RAZR will charge on it, with out issue, untill Verizon fucked up their software to make more money.
    • by Korbeau (913903)

      do not potentially allow changes

      But the hammer..!! The Hammer!!!

    • psystar should move to the uk and likely be able to do what they are doing for a lot more law on there side.

    • by dangitman (862676)

      It also means they cant force an upgrade with new T&Cs without giving the buyer the option of a refund.

      When did Apple force an upgrade? Whenever you update your software, you must agree to the EULA again, otherwise the update is not installed. It's not forced in any way.

      As I've said numerous times, this is why EULAs are unenforcable in the UK.

      Well, I suspect you've been wrong many times, because this is not a logical statement. Just because some terms in a EULA might be unenforceable, doesn't mean that EULAs as a whole are unenforceable. And the situation is identical in the USA.

      • by drseamus (981383)
        You can't restore an iPhone with anything except the most updated iPhone OS anymore so if something arises, like a phone crashing all the time in my case, you are forced to upgrade the OS.
  • oh, that (Score:5, Funny)

    by overcaffein8d (1101951) <d...cohen09@@@gmail...com> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @01:16AM (#30252616) Homepage Journal

    you mean, the iTunes clause:

    You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons.

    ??

    • Re:oh, that (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28, 2009 @01:26AM (#30252666)

      Finally, the bad guys aren't allowed to add Rickrolling to their WMDs. We can sleep in peace.

    • by RockoTDF (1042780)
      Looks like I need to unsubscribe from that DIY ICBM podcast. And the host was so witty and charming....
      • Looks like I need to unsubscribe from that DIY ICBM podcast. And the host was so witty and charming....

        Achmedinejad is on ham radio, too.

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I think you'll find that ham isn't Halal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mr. DOS (1276020)

      Y'know, the Microsoft JVM EULA (or maybe it was the Windows 98 EULA?) had a clause almost identical to that for years before iTunes was even a concept. It bugs me every time I hear someone call it the "iTunes clause"...

            --- Mr. DOS

      • Re:oh, that (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28, 2009 @02:27AM (#30252878)

        Y'know, the Microsoft JVM EULA (or maybe it was the Windows 98 EULA?) had a clause almost identical to that for years before iTunes was even a concept. It bugs me every time I hear someone call it the "iTunes clause"...

        So you're saying we have evidence that Apple copy stuff from Microsoft.

      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        Well at least with the JVM it's rather possible that it could be used in such a way.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by mysidia (191772)

          That's because a JVM is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled, and if they are filled, when you put your program in, it gets in line, and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into the tube enormous emounts of information, enormous amounts of information.

          And then, if it gets too congested, your JVM explodes, taking the entire internet with it!

      • by FooAtWFU (699187)
        The one I always recall seeing was for some Sun sample Java code, for the "clock" applet. This code not to be used in blah blah blah or the design, construction, or maintenance of any nuclear facility.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          That's because it's not an atomic clock.

        • Re:oh, that (Score:5, Informative)

          by ls671 (1122017) * on Saturday November 28, 2009 @03:06AM (#30252990) Homepage

          Different thing, the clause is wider and it is telling you not to use the software for very mission critical applications:

          * This software is not designed or intended for use in on-line control of
            * aircraft, air traffic, aircraft navigation or aircraft communications; or in
            * the design, construction, operation or maintenance of any nuclear
            * facilit. Licensee represents and warrants that it will not use or
            * redistribute the Software for such purposes.

          http://java.sun.com/applets/jdk/1.4/demo/applets/Clock/Clock.java [sun.com]

          • by Anonymous Coward

            As someone who's spent a couple of decades developing systems for

            on-line control of aircraft, air traffic, aircraft navigation or aircraft communications; or in the design, construction, operation or maintenance of any nuclear facilit.

            I can tell you from first-hand experience that that clause is *NOT* telling you not to use the software in those applications -- what it *IS* telling you is that they want you to negotiate a custom license (for a custom fee, of course) for the right to use the software in those applications.

            • by Tacvek (948259)

              Well, in part that is true. They would be happy to negotiate a license for such use. But it also means that the code was not designed with such purposes in mind, and likely had far less stringent code review, specifications, and coding standards then is normally required for such purposes.

              It likely also does not meet the legal standards for those applications.

        • I tell you what, as much as I like Java as a programming language, I'd fill my underwear in record time if I ever discovered it was used in any nuclear facility.
          • I tell you what, as much as I like Java as a programming language, I'd fill my underwear in record time if I ever discovered it was used in any nuclear facility.

            This implies the time it took would be less than the times of other occasions, I take it?

            • Well there was this one time when I discovered they were using windows 98 on our naval vessels...
          • by jo42 (227475)

            You'd fill the Grand Canyon in record time if you saw what was and is being used in nuclear facilities...

          • by daveime (1253762)

            Yes, but how would you know that the "record time" was accurate ?

          • by fyrewulff (702920)

            I tell you what, as much as I like Java as a programming language, I'd fill my underwear in record time if I ever discovered it was used in any nuclear facility.

            Well, thanks to JIT, your waste can be converted into usable fuel for the plant itself, no matter how fast you fill your underwear buffer.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        As if the people who manufacture biological weapon delivery system contrary to US law will care about a EULA clause in the JVM they run their software on.

        • by digitig (1056110)
          It isn't meant to stop them using it for those purposes. It's there to cover Microsoft's and Apple's asses -- they don't get sued if the biological weapon hits the wrong target.
    • by Pastis (145655)

      So if you play music while you conceiving a kid, and your son becomes a soldier (chemical and biological weapon), do you get into trouble ?

    • Well, I guess since the Steve Jobs reality distortion bubble is a chemical and biological weapon, because it changes the chemistry and biology of the brains of the affected, you could sue them for anti-competitive behavior (hindering the development of competing reality distortion bubbles), to get that clause removed. ^^

      • by daveime (1253762)

        How many times ? Unless the iBoom missile hardware is made by Apple, you can not install Mac OSX on it ! It says so in the EULA !

    • by Dun Malg (230075)
      Eh. That's not special to Apple. It's standard software industry boilerplate. Remember the Win XP install agreement that says you can't use XP to control nuclear reactors? SAme shit.
    • Something tells me that bomb builders want hardware that Just Works.

  • Laaaaa (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    And that's why I am a PC. :)

  • by Donkey_Hotey (1433053) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @03:15AM (#30253020)

    iTunes lists rap stars as recording artists . Would that fall under the "faulty or misdescribed goods" part?

  • by dirkdodgers (1642627) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @03:22AM (#30253030)

    I've always loved the absurdity of these phrases. Apple disclaims all implied warranties including the implied warranties that their products are what they claim to be and are suitable for the purpose they are advertised for.

    In other words, as far as Apple is concerned, if you open your new Macbook Pro box and find a boat anchor instead of a laptop, tough luck.

  • by Snufu (1049644) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @03:44AM (#30253112)

    must also ensure that its conditions are 'drafted in plain or intelligible language'

    Surely this is a land without lawyers. Where is this 'United Kingdom' and how soon may we journey to its fair shores?

    • by rishistar (662278) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:14AM (#30253480) Homepage

      The United Kingdom is the place wherein lies England, the home of the one and only plain an intelligible language that we all love and know - English. Some languages are non-plain using fancy characters but *all* other languages are unintelligible - ironically none more so than one from another part of the United Kingdom - Welsh.

      • by daveime (1253762)

        Hmm, let's see ...

        "London" English - "Excuse me Sir, have you seen my Chicken Sandwich"

        "Scouse" English - "Hey la, wess me Shicken Butty"

        Yup, completely plain an intelligible language, provided you live in a 10 mile radius of Big Ben.

    • by badzilla (50355) <ultrak3wlNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:20AM (#30253510)

      A Brit friend was visiting the USA and phoned the operator (could have been the internal operator at his large company) to ask which international dialling prefix he should use to call home. A short silence then... "United Kingdom? Is that an amusement park?"

    • What they didn’t mention: “drafted in plain or intelligible NEWSPEAK language” ^^

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      Surely this is a land without lawyers. Where is this 'United Kingdom' and how soon may we journey to its fair shores?

      It's not so much that it's without lawyers. It's just been around long enough to have figured out that it's not good for a society to put corporations in charge of absolutely everything.

      Unfortunately, it's younger cousin across the atlantic has not made this discovery yet, but I have high hopes.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by fast turtle (1118037)

        Actually, there needs to be an Antitrust suit against the "House of Lords" for anticompetitive behaviour since they disallow any competition with their rule.

  • Is it me or do Apple get in trouble in the UK a lot? I think there's about 4 Apple adverts that have been deemed false advertising by ASA, and now this? Have they really not bothered to hire any UK lawyers?

    Anyway this is a bit of a moot point. Terms in a contract that contradict the Distance Selling Regulations or the Sale of Goods act are obviously null (especially so if Apple included the line "This does not affect your statutory rights" or similar), and The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulatio

    • Is it me or do Apple get in trouble in the UK a lot? I think there's about 4 Apple adverts that have been deemed false advertising by ASA, and now this? Have they really not bothered to hire any UK lawyers?

      Would you though? Game Theory would suggest (to me anyway) that any loss possible in the UK is nothing compared to the possible losses in the US. I'd hire nothing but US lawyers too.

      Illegal conditions in your EULA in the UK? get your knuckles rapped and correct it - end of story.
      Sell a product in the US? prepare for endless lawsuits varying in their stupidity.

    • by mjwx (966435) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @05:47AM (#30253420)

      Apple definitely won't be the only well known company in the UK to do things like these (Microsoft?)

      Cant say about the UK but in AU we have similar laws, bank and telco ad's get pulled all the time. Often they come back with ridiculous amounts of fine print displayed in 3 seconds to comply with advertising standards.

      With Apple, they deliberately misrepresent their goods so of course these kinds of things happen, MS don't release an ad that often and always get it checked (if not done by) a local ad agency who will ensure its compliance. Occasionally they do get ad's pulled though, the "get the Facts(R)*+" campaign for example.

      * - Facts(R) is a registered trademark of Microsoft(TM) and may not represent any actual facts.
      + - May contain traces of nut egg or seed.

    • by rishistar (662278)

      They were complained about adverts for the iPhone - it was ironic that with such a great product they had to stoop to such misrepresentation.

      Still, I'd rather have those lies back if they replaced the Windows 7 adverts they have here - I'm hoping for a version of Duck Hunt featuring all the annoying guys in the ads to hit the market in time for Christmas.

    • Re:Apple and the UK (Score:5, Informative)

      by itsdapead (734413) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @07:05AM (#30253658)

      Is it me or do Apple get in trouble in the UK a lot?

      More a case of whenever Apple get in trouble it tends to be over-reported. Ads get pulled all the time. Also, its largely driven by how many "members of the public" complain.

      Have they really not bothered to hire any UK lawyers?

      The ASA [asa.org.uk] is an independent industry regulator enforcing a "code of conduct" so the law doesn't necessarily come in to it.

      However, no, I don't think Apple really understands the way advertising works in the UK: a prestige brand like Apple is supposed to give us 40 seconds of entertainment with a "pack shot" at the end. If you make specific claims about the product, people will check (if a cosmetics firm says "8 out of 10 women in our survey said they felt younger looking" then they better have those stats). Knocking the competitor's product really isn't cricket and is fairly rare. I notice that although Apple initially made UK versions of the "I'm a Mac" ads (with a British comedy duo) that didn't last long.

      On the other hand, Apple also think that a British keyboard is an American keyboard with the # key replaced by a £ sign. Twits.

      • by zebs (105927)

        I notice that although Apple initially made UK versions of the "I'm a Mac" ads (with a British comedy duo) that didn't last long.

        Because the duo were also in a comedy show (Peep Show) where the "I'm a Mac" guy was a complete tosser that no-one liked.

        • Wait, those were Apple ads? I assumed they were Microsoft ads since the far better comedian was the PC.
  • "In no event shall Microsoft be liable for any damages whatsoever, even in the event of fault (including negligence)."
    -- Windows XP Professional license agreement
    • by EsbenMoseHansen (731150) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:01AM (#30253452) Homepage

      "In no event shall Microsoft be liable for any damages whatsoever, even in the event of fault (including negligence)."

      I always thought that these notices are very odd. I mean, can I put up a sign that says "In no event shall Esben be responsible for any crime he might do" and expect it to have any effect?

      • by DriedClexler (814907) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @11:02AM (#30254556)

        Well, the asshole truckers that carry small rocks without covering up the load think they're accomplishing something by having a notice:

        "Stay back 200 ft -- Not responsible for damaged windshields"

        Yet they know damn well that they'll be at fault for such damage. Go fig.

        I'm guessing it's just an attempt to deceive people into thinking they don't have rights that they really do ... which should probably be illegal.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Dysproxia (584031)

        I always thought that these notices are very odd. I mean, can I put up a sign that says "In no event shall Esben be responsible for any crime he might do" and expect it to have any effect?

        Of course not, since that claim would be false. Software maker responsibilities are a different matter. Would you hold the Apache Foundation liable for damages if someone hacks your web server due to security holes in their code? No, as they don't claim or promise responsibility any more than Microsoft or anyone else with

        • I always thought that these notices are very odd. I mean, can I put up a sign that says "In no event shall Esben be responsible for any crime he might do" and expect it to have any effect?

          Of course not, since that claim would be false. Software maker responsibilities are a different matter. Would you hold the Apache Foundation liable for damages if someone hacks your web server due to security holes in their code? No, as they don't claim or promise responsibility any more than Microsoft or anyone else with half a mind do.

          But the notice doesn't change anything, does it? Of course, in this country, the maximum damage award I could get would the price of the software :P (there are a few exceptions, but none that matters for software)

      • Here in New Zealand just about every console/PC game, DVD and CD vendor has decided to refuse product returns due to the "risk" of piracy. I think you can still return a product if it is blatantly defective (i.e., bad media), but otherwise you are out of luck...so it's too bad if the system requirements on the back of the box are outright lies and your machine can't run the game, or if the copy protection doesn't like your DVD drive...

        Anyway, there is one retailer (JB HiFi) who have signs all over their gam

    • by drsmithy (35869)
      That sentence is not present anywhere in the Windows EULA.
  • In other news... (Score:4, Informative)

    by itsdapead (734413) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:48AM (#30253604)

    About half of 369 websites selling electronic goods checked in an EU crackdown [eubusiness.com] were found to have exactly these sorts of problems.

    Of course, 99% of those websites weren't run by Apple, so they don't get singled out in the press. Fair do's I guess - 99% of companies don't get every product launch reported by the BBC, either.

    The EU "distance selling" regulations (which include the UK) are fairly tight and comparatively recent.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Did’t you know that since the 14th, the head of all Slashdot editors will explode, if they don’t release at least one Apple article on average?

      Seriously! Check for yourself:
      http://slashdot.org/index2.pl?fhfilter=apple [slashdot.org]
      http://slashdot.org/index2.pl?fhfilter=iphone [slashdot.org]

      My guess is that it’s some “better bad news than no news” viral advertisement deal.

      • by kramerd (1227006)

        Yes, /. is required to make sure that other websites have articles about apple that can be linked to and summarised on /. at least once for a viral advertisement deal. I assume because apple can't afford television or radio or internet or mall kiosk or email commercials and really just wants to the word out about how locked down, worthless, anti-consumer they are.

        Tinfoil hat much?

    • by Adlopa (686151)
      Replying to remove erroneously applied mode point (not a 'funny' comment at all). My bad.
  • plain or intelligible language

    Which one is it? Do you get to choose whether it is plain or intelligible?

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