How I Cut An Apple Terms of Service 62% While Keeping All The Legal Stuff

We’ve talked about the problem with terms and conditions a few times already.  And I’ve even discussed some recent efforts to summarize those terms such as TOS;DR.  I still don’t think the current attempts at a solution (providing short summaries or visual cues) are very good.

I think the solution is fairly simple: lawyers need to write better terms and conditions.

From a lawyer’s perspective there are two important goals for a site’s terms and conditions: how well they defend the company against a lawsuit and how enforceable those terms and conditions will be.  I think, however, there should be a third factor that lawyers should factor into the terms and conditions they draft: do the terms help foster a community?  An incredibly detailed terms and conditions may defend a company against lawsuits that exist today or can be imagined in the future and several levels of user acknowledgement (must read, multiple acceptance checkboxes, a text area to type I TOTALLY AGREE WITH EVERY TERM IN THIS BINDING CONTRACT, etc.) may ensure the terms will be upheld by any court in the land.  But will people read it?  Will users like the hoops you’ve forced them to jump through?  Will they even sign up?

There’s an easier solution: cut to the chase.  Be open and honest about what you’re going to do and state it simply.  You may still lose some people who just want to click through, but you will have a far better argument that you were presenting your terms in clear language that the user could understand.  And for those that do read your document you’ve started building a relationship that may help your platform.

Let’s use an example to illustrate.  Apple has released the latest version of iOS but even if you didn’t upgrade your iDevice’s operating system you may have encountered some new terms and conditions this past week.  One of them is Game Center.  If you play any games on iOS that use Game Center you’ll know that this is Apple’s service that keeps track of high scores or individual achievements within a game.  You can then compare that with your friends that you have connected with on Game Center.  Several games also allow multiplayer games via Game Center.

Game Center updated its terms the same day as iOS 6 so the first time you used a game that had a Game Center connection you were prompted to review and accept the terms.  I’m guessing most people blindly did so.  I read them, but that’s what I do.  It’s a document that has 3,289 words.  Bear in mind these are not the terms and conditions for the operating system or iTunes or even the App Store.  This is not the Apple privacy policy.  These are just the terms for the service that some of your applications use to share high scores and track achievements.

I read this document and instantly thought this is a perfect example for how to do terms better.  So I set about rewriting it.  I cut it from the original 3,289 words down to 1,253 words.  That’s a 62% reduction while keeping all the legal topics intact.  Here’s how I did it.

First, just so we have a basis for comparison, here’s the word cloud of the original terms.

Can you find the words “Game Center?” After all, that’s what these terms cover.  No?  Center is about the S in Service.  Game is over the far right.  Their size shows how rarely they are used.

I think these terms are understandable, but tedious.  And these are terms for a gaming service!

Let’s change that.

Here’s how the original starts:

Game Center
TERMS OF SERVICE

GAME CENTER
THE LEGAL AGREEMENT (“AGREEMENT”) SET OUT BELOW GOVERNS YOUR USE OF THE GAME CENTER SERVICE. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU READ AND UNDERSTAND THE FOLLOWING TERMS. BY CLICKING “AGREE,” YOU ARE AGREEING THAT THESE TERMS WILL APPLY IF YOU CHOOSE TO ACCESS OR USE THE SERVICE. IF YOU ARE UNDER THE AGE OF MAJORITY, YOU SHOULD REVIEW THIS AGREEMENT WITH YOUR PARENT OR GUARDIAN TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU AND YOUR PARENT OR GUARDIAN UNDERSTAND IT.

Apple Inc. is the provider of the Game Center service (the “Service”), which permits you to engage in game related activities, including, but not limited to, participation in leader boards, multi-player games, and tracking achievements. The Service may not be available in all areas. Use of the Service requires compatible devices, Internet access, and certain software (fees may apply); may require periodic updates; and may be affected by the performance of these factors.

To use the Service, you cannot be a person barred from receiving the Service under the laws of the United States or other applicable jurisdictions, including the country in which you reside or from where you use the Service. By accepting this Agreement, you represent that you understand and agree to the foregoing.

Fairly standard opening for a long legal agreement like this.  But basically they’re trying to cover the following points: this is an agreement that you must agree to for you to use the service; if you’re a minor you need to have an adult sign it; what Game Center does; what you need for Game Center; and that you are not barred from the service (for whatever reason, a sort of legal catch-all).  So how about we use the following instead:

Game Center
TERMS OF SERVICE

GAME CENTER
HEY YOU!  BEFORE YOU USE GAME CENTER YOU NEED TO REVIEW THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS.  WE’LL KEEP IT BRIEF, BUT THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT’S A LEGAL AGREEMENT.  IF YOU ARE UNDER 18 THEN YOUR PARENTS OR GUARDIANS NEED TO ACCEPT IT.  WE’RE GOING TO STOP YELLING NOW, OKAY?

Game Center provides leader boards, multi-player game functionality, and achievement tracking for applications on supported devices.  We think it’s awesome.  It requires Internet access (which probably costs money), software that uses the service (which also may cost money), and may need to be updated from time to time.  Game Center performance can be impacted by all of these things.

To use Game Center you need to agree to this document and there cannot be a legal reason preventing you from using the service (such as a law or court order saying you can’t use something as awesome as Game Center).

Yes, I kept the all caps in the new version because courts like it when you make text stand out, but I used it to start setting the tone.  I’ve cut that section from 204 words to 151.  Don’t worry, we’ll make more headway in later sections.  Next for the original terms:

YOUR ACCOUNT

As a registered user of the Service, you may establish an account (“Account”) in accordance with the Usage Rules, below. Don’t reveal your Account information to anyone else. You are solely responsible for maintaining the confidentiality and security of your Account and for all activities that occur on or through your Account, and you agree to immediately notify Apple of any security breach of your Account. Apple shall not be responsible for any losses arising out of the unauthorized use of your Account.

You agree to provide accurate and complete information when you register with, and as you use, the Service, and you agree to update your registration data to keep it accurate and complete. You agree that Apple may store and use your registration data to maintain your Account. You may not create an account for anyone other than yourself without that person’s permission.

This part isn’t too long but it can be made a bit friendlier.  It also includes the bizarre statement to not reveal Account information to others–that’s bizarre because that would include your username which you have to tell other people if you’re going to connect with them.  I’ve replaced this with the following:

YOUR ACCOUNT

Once you make an account with Game Center, keep it secure.  If someone gets access to your account, let us know.  We’ll try and help you but we aren’t responsible for someone else using your account.  On that note, you can’t make an account for someone else unless they let you.  That’s true in other places besides Game Center too.

We will store and use your registration data to maintain the account, so be sure to keep it up to date.  And don’t lie in your account information.  Because lying is cheating and cheaters never win in the long run.

Next up is the very long Usage Rules.  I’ve pasted the entire section here but skip to the end for my summary.

USAGE RULES

You agree to use the Service in compliance with these usage rules. Apple reserves the right to modify the usage rules at any time.

You are authorized to use the Service only for personal, noncommercial use.

You agree not to, or attempt or assist another person to, violate, circumvent, reverse-engineer, decompile, disassemble, or otherwise tamper with the Service.

You agree that you will NOT use the Service to:

a. upload, download, post, email, transmit, store or otherwise make available any content that is unlawful, harassing, threatening, harmful, tortious, defamatory, libelous, abusive, violent, obscene, vulgar, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive, or otherwise objectionable;

b. stalk, harass, threaten or harm another;

c. if you are an adult, request personal or other information from a minor (any person under the age of 18 or such other age as local law defines as a minor) who is not personally known to you, including but not limited to any of the following: full name or last name, home address, zip/postal code, telephone number, picture, email address, or the names of the minor’s school, church, athletic team or friends;

d. pretend to be anyone, or any entity, you are not — you may not impersonate or misrepresent yourself as another person (including celebrities), entity, another Service participant, an Apple employee, or a civic or government leader, or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity, (Apple reserves the right to reject or block any nickname which could be deemed to be an impersonation or misrepresentation of your identity, or a misappropriation of another person’s name or identity);

e. engage in any copyright infringement or other intellectual property infringement, or disclose any trade secret or confidential information in violation of a confidentiality, employment, or nondisclosure agreement;

f. post, send, transmit or otherwise make available any unsolicited or unauthorized email messages, advertising, promotional materials, junk mail, spam, or chain letters, including, without limitation, bulk commercial advertising and informational announcements;

g. forge any TCP-IP packet header or any part of the header information in an email or a news group posting, or otherwise put information in a header designed to mislead recipients as to the origin of any content transmitted through the Service (“spoofing”);

h. upload, post, email, transmit, store or otherwise make available any material that contains viruses or any other computer code, files or programs designed to harm, interfere with or limit the normal operation of the Service (or any part thereof), or any other computer software or hardware;

i. interfere with or disrupt the Service (including accessing the Service through any automated means, like scripts or web crawlers), or any servers or networks connected to the Service, or any policies, requirements or regulations of networks connected to the Service (including any unauthorized access to, use or monitoring of data or traffic thereon);

j. plan or engage in any illegal activity; and/or gather and store personal information on any other users of the Service to be used in connection with any of the foregoing prohibited activities;

k. cheat or otherwise modify the Service or the game experience to effect an advantage for one player over another.

This is a nice list of things you cannot do on Game Center, but there’s two sections that matter.  I’ve made them bold so you can see them (they aren’t bold in the original).  So after you’ve read this really long list you’re left with two big items: Apple can change these rules at any time and you can’t do anything objectionable.  Objectionable is just another way of saying things Apple doesn’t like.  So even if you avoid doing the things on this list they may find it violates the usage rules.  In that case, let’s be honest about it.

USAGE RULES

You can use Game Center for your personal, non-commercial use.  And there’s a lot you can do on Game Center.  But you cannot do any of the following:

  • Anything illegal (that includes breaking intellectual property laws)
  • Pretend to be someone else
  • Stalk or harass another player or try to get personal information from a minor you don’t know
  • Anything that could interfere with Game Center (including cheating and any attempts to reverse-engineer Game Center functions)
  • Any other activities not contributing to the Game Center community

This new version keeps the same broad swaths of prohibits activity and the spirit of the original usage rules but cuts a lot of text as well.  The original Usage Rules section was 525 words.  My version is 87 words.  Let’s move on to Privacy.

PRIVACY

The Service is subject to Apple’s Privacy Policy at http://www.apple.com/privacy. As set out in the Privacy Policy, when you use the Service, such as inviting other users to join the Service, participating in leader boards, enabling invitations or multiplayer functionality, or displaying status messages, the personal information you share is visible to other users and can be read, collected, or used by them. You are responsible for the personal information you choose to submit in these instances. When playing a game that supports multiplayer functionality, other users accessing the Service from within the same game on the same Wi-Fi network, local area network or within range of Bluetooth will be able to see that you are nearby, and see your nickname and photo, or full profile if you have a friend relationship with such user. If you do not want to be visible to other users nearby, you must adjust the settings on your device by launching the Game Center app, tapping Account, tapping View Account, and sliding the Game Invites switch “off”; or on your Mac, by launching the Game Center application, tapping Account, and unchecking “Allow friends to invite you to play games”. If you list your name or other personal information in a status message, that information is public. If you choose to have your public profile set to “on”, other users of the Service can see your full profile, including your full name, your activity (such as the games you have played and when you played them), your scores, and your achievements, and you can be recommended as a friend to other users. If you choose to have your public profile set to “off”, only users with whom you have established a friend relationship can see your full profile, and you will not be recommended to others; only your nickname and photo will be visible to users who are not friends. The full name associated with your Apple ID will also be shared with those users to whom you send, or from whom you accept, a friend request, such as in the Friends list, the Friends leaderboards, and the pending friends requests lists; and we may recommend games that you have played to your friends. If you prefer not to share your full name or profile with friends, you should remove that friend by tapping the “Unfriend” button at the bottom of that friend’s screen in Game Center.

If you wish to stop sharing information with other users and the Service, see http://www.apple.com/support/.

Some aspects of the Service are not available to children under 13, such as features that allow users to disclose personally identifiable information. Please enable parental controls to restrict access to content as appropriate.

Apple has a separate privacy policy which is linked here and then the rest of this section is actually a good description of what is being shared and how to disable it.  But it seems odd to have a how-to section in the middle of terms and conditions–this is even stranger coming from Apple, a company who prides itself on usability design.  I can’t imagine any usability guidelines that say a good place for teaching people how to change privacy settings is in the middle of terms and conditions.  So let’s cut this down to the necessary elements:

PRIVACY

Apple has a Privacy Policy at http://www.apple.com/privacy that applies here.  If you are under 13 then you can’t access some features of Game Center and we encourage all parents to use parental controls to set appropriate limits for their children.

When you use Game Center you send out information about yourself which may include your username, photo, or other items.  If you want to modify what you share or stop sharing information altogether, check the Account section of the Game Center application.  If you need additional help then please visit us at http://www.apple.com/support/.

This new section puts the focus back on the application–since if that’s hard to control what information you share I’m not sure how the original section helps.  If the application helps people, great.  If not, point them to a more robust source of information.  But terms and conditions are not a good place for an instruction manual.  And we cut the original 452 words down to 94.

After the original Privacy section comes four sections that I think can be combined into one.  Here are the original terms, but feel free to skip to the end for a summary and a new version.

SUBMISSIONS TO THE SERVICE

The Service may offer interactive features that allow you to submit materials (including links to third-party content) on areas of the Service accessible and viewable by the public. You agree that any use by you of such features, including any materials submitted by you, shall be your sole responsibility, shall not infringe or violate the rights of any other party or violate any laws, contribute to or encourage infringing or otherwise unlawful conduct, or otherwise be obscene, objectionable or in poor taste. You also agree that you have obtained all necessary rights and licenses to make such submissions. You agree to provide accurate and complete information in connection with your submission of any materials on the Service. You hereby grant Apple a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use such materials as part of the Service or in providing or marketing the Service, without any compensation or obligation to you. Apple reserves the right to not post or publish any materials and to remove or edit any material, at any time in its sole discretion without notice or liability.

Apple has the right, but not the obligation, to monitor any materials submitted by you or otherwise available on the Service, to investigate any reported or apparent violation of this Agreement, and to take any action that Apple in its sole discretion deems appropriate, including, without limitation, termination hereunder or under our Copyright Policy (http://www.apple.com/legal/copyright.html).

THIRD-PARTY MATERIALS

Certain content, and services available via the Service may include materials from third parties. Apple may provide links to third-party web sites as a convenience to you. You agree that Apple is not responsible for examining or evaluating the content or accuracy and Apple does not warrant and will not have any liability or responsibility for any third-party materials or web sites, or for any other materials, products, or services of third parties. You agree that you will not use any third-party materials in a manner that would infringe or violate the rights of any other party and that Apple is not in any way responsible for any such use by you.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL

You understand that by using the Service, you may encounter material that you may deem to be offensive, indecent, or objectionable, which content may or may not be identified as having explicit material. Nevertheless, you agree to use the Service at your sole risk and Apple shall have no liability to you for material that may be found to be offensive, indecent, or objectionable. Ratings and descriptions are provided for convenience, and you agree that Apple does not guarantee their accuracy.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

You agree that the Service, including but not limited to graphics, user interface, audio clips, video clips, editorial content, and the scripts and software used to implement the Service, contains proprietary information and material that is owned by Apple and/or its licensors, and is protected by applicable intellectual property and other laws, including but not limited to copyright. You agree that you will not use such proprietary information or materials in any way whatsoever except for use of the Service in compliance with this Agreement. No portion of the Service may be reproduced in any form or by any means, except as expressly permitted in these terms. You agree not to modify, rent, lease, loan, sell, distribute, or create derivative works based on the Service, in any manner, and you shall not exploit the Service in any unauthorized way whatsoever, including, but not limited to, by trespass or burdening network capacity.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Agreement, Apple and its licensors reserve the right to change, suspend, remove, or disable access to any products, content, or other materials comprising a part of the Service at any time without notice. In no event will Apple be liable for making these changes. Apple may also impose limits on the use of or access to certain features or portions of the Service, in any case and without notice or liability.

All copyrights in and to the Service (including the compilation of content, postings, links to other Internet resources, and descriptions of those resources) and related software are owned by Apple and/or its licensors, who reserve all their rights in law and equity. THE USE OF THE SOFTWARE OR ANY PART OF THE SERVICE, EXCEPT FOR USE OF THE SERVICE AS PERMITTED IN THIS AGREEMENT, IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED AND INFRINGES ON THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS OF OTHERS AND MAY SUBJECT YOU TO CIVIL AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES, INCLUDING POSSIBLE MONETARY DAMAGES, FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.

Apple, the Apple logo, and other Apple trademarks, service marks, graphics, and logos used in connection with the Service are trademarks or registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other trademarks, service marks, graphics, and logos used in connection with the Service may be the trademarks of their respective owners. You are granted no right or license with respect to any of the aforesaid trademarks and any use of such trademarks.

Did your eyes glaze over?  Yeah, that was painful for me too.  The first three sections deal with content on Game Center–it’s a bit different from the Usage Rules since that’s about activity and this is about what is actually posted.  The fourth section covers Intellectual Property generally but has some overlap with those first three sections.  So here’s where I propose a major change and combining these four sections into one:

CONTENT

There’s a lot of content available from Game Center including reviews and product information and achievements and bacon (kidding, but that would be awesome).  You must only post content to Game Center that you have the right to use and where you give us a free, worldwide, perpetual license to use that content in any way we choose in providing Game Center functionality or marketing Game Center.

When you see content on Game Center you should know that it may have been provided by someone other than Apple.  We may review this content but we might not, so we can’t say if the content is accurate and you cannot hold us responsible for anything related to that content.  You cannot use content that someone else posted on Game Center as your own without their permission (and that includes all of Apple’s intellectual property such as our graphics, audio clips, video clips, and other protected elements).  And if you see someone else doing that with your content then contact us according to the terms of our Copyright Policy at http://www.apple.com/legal/copyright.html.

Game Center is a big place so you may come across some content you find objectionable.  Your best option is to just move along but if you want to contact us about it we may take a look as well.  If we see something that we decide is objectionable or not in the best interests of the Game Center community, we have sole discretion to take it down.

OH BOY HERE COMES THE ALL CAPS AGAIN.  SORRY, BUT WE WANT YOU TO TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY BECAUSE WE TAKE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY SERIOUSLY.  YOU CAN ONLY USE GAME CENTER SOFTWARE AND SERVICES AS PERMITTED IN THIS AGREEMENT.  IF YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE WITH IT WE MAY SUE YOU FOR VIOLATING OUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS.  SERIOUSLY, WE’VE DONE IT BEFORE AND WE GOT A BILLION DOLLARS.

Here I’ve cut out a lot of specific examples with broader statements in the interest of keeping the terms short and understandable.  Here we’ve gone from four sections and 831 words into one section with 313 words.

Next up, comes a few more sections that I think can be combined.  The original:

TERMINATION

If you fail, or Apple suspects that you have failed, to comply with any of the provisions of this Agreement, Apple, at its sole discretion, without notice to you may: (i) terminate this Agreement and/or your Account; and/or (ii) terminate the license to the Service; and/or (iii) preclude access to the Service (or any part thereof).

Apple reserves the right to modify, suspend, or discontinue the Service (or any part or content thereof) at any time with or without notice to you, and Apple will not be liable to you or to any third party should it exercise such rights.

DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES; LIABILITY LIMITATION

APPLE DOES NOT GUARANTEE, REPRESENT, OR WARRANT THAT YOUR USE OF THE SERVICE WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR-FREE, AND YOU AGREE THAT FROM TIME TO TIME APPLE MAY REMOVE THE SERVICE FOR INDEFINITE PERIODS OF TIME, OR CANCEL THE SERVICE AT ANY TIME, WITHOUT NOTICE TO YOU.

YOU EXPRESSLY AGREE THAT YOUR USE OF, OR INABILITY TO USE, THE SERVICE IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK. THE SERVICE AND ALL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES DELIVERED TO YOU THROUGH THE SERVICE ARE (EXCEPT AS EXPRESSLY STATED BY APPLE HEREIN) PROVIDED “AS IS” AND “AS AVAILABLE” FOR YOUR USE, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE, AND NONINFRINGEMENT. BECAUSE SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION OF IMPLIED WARRANTIES, THE ABOVE EXCLUSION OF IMPLIED WARRANTIES MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.

IN NO CASE SHALL APPLE, ITS DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AFFILIATES, AGENTS, CONTRACTORS, OR LICENSORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, SPECIAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING FROM YOUR USE OR INABILITY TO USE THE SERVICE OR FOR ANY OTHER CLAIM RELATED IN ANY WAY TO YOUR USE OF THE SERVICE, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS IN ANY CONTENT, OR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGE OF ANY KIND INCURRED AS A RESULT OF THE USE OF ANY CONTENT (OR PRODUCT) POSTED, TRANSMITTED, OR OTHERWISE MADE AVAILABLE VIA THE SERVICE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THEIR POSSIBILITY. BECAUSE SOME STATES OR JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION OR THE LIMITATION OF LIABILITY FOR CONSEQUENTIAL OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, IN SUCH STATES OR JURISDICTIONS, APPLE’S LIABILITY SHALL BE LIMITED TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.

APPLE SHALL USE REASONABLE EFFORTS TO PROTECT MATERIALS OR INFORMATION SUBMITTED BY YOU IN CONNECTION WITH THE SERVICE, BUT YOU AGREE THAT YOUR SUBMISSION OF SUCH INFORMATION IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK, AND APPLE HEREBY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY TO YOU FOR ANY LOSS OR LIABILITY RELATING TO SUCH INFORMATION IN ANY WAY.

APPLE DOES NOT REPRESENT OR GUARANTEE THAT THE SERVICE WILL BE FREE FROM LOSS, CORRUPTION, ATTACK, VIRUSES, INTERFERENCE, HACKING, OR OTHER SECURITY INTRUSION, AND APPLE DISCLAIMS ANY LIABILITY RELATING THERETO.

WAIVER AND INDEMNITY

BY USING THE SERVICE, YOU AGREE TO INDEMNIFY AND HOLD APPLE, ITS DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AFFILIATES, AGENTS, CONTRACTORS, AND LICENSORS HARMLESS WITH RESPECT TO ANY CLAIMS ARISING OUT OF YOUR BREACH OF THIS AGREEMENT, YOUR USE OF THE SERVICE, OR ANY ACTION TAKEN BY APPLE AS PART OF ITS INVESTIGATION OF A SUSPECTED VIOLATION OF THIS AGREEMENT OR AS A RESULT OF ITS FINDING OR DECISION THAT A VIOLATION OF THIS AGREEMENT HAS OCCURRED. THIS MEANS THAT YOU CANNOT SUE OR RECOVER ANY DAMAGES FROM APPLE, ITS DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AFFILIATES, AGENTS, CONTRACTORS, AND LICENSORS AS A RESULT OF ITS DECISION TO REMOVE OR REFUSE TO PROCESS ANY INFORMATION OR CONTENT, TO WARN YOU, TO SUSPEND OR TERMINATE YOUR ACCESS TO THE SERVICE, OR TO TAKE ANY OTHER ACTION DURING THE INVESTIGATION OF A SUSPECTED VIOLATION OR AS A RESULT OF APPLE’S CONCLUSION THAT A VIOLATION OF THIS AGREEMENT HAS OCCURRED. THIS WAIVER AND INDEMNITY PROVISION APPLIES TO ALL VIOLATIONS DESCRIBED IN, RESULTING FROM, OR CONTEMPLATED BY THIS AGREEMENT.

These sections cover some broad topics WITH A LOT OF CAPS (again, because some courts require that).  But all these topics deal with some specific lawsuits so I think they can be addressed in one section.  My new version:

THINGS FOR WHICH YOU CANNOT SUE US

If you violate this agreement we’re totally cutting you off from Game Center.  Serves you right and you can’t sue us for that.  We may also change or end Game Center at some time; if we do we won’t provide notice and you cannot sue us about that either.

CAPS LOCK LOOKED LONELY SO WE’RE GOING ALL CAPS AGAIN.  WE DO NOT WARRANT, GUARANTEE, OR PROMISE THAT GAME CENTER WILL BE ERROR-FREE, UNINTERRUPTED, OR HACK-PROOF.  GAME CENTER IS PROVIDED TO YOU “AS IS” AND “AS AVAILABLE” AND WE MAKE NO IMPLIED OR EXPRESS WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND REGARDING YOUR USE OF GAME CENTER OR THE INFORMATION YOU PROVIDE TO GAME CENTER.  WE’LL MAKE REASONABLE EFFORTS TO PROTECT YOUR DATA AND KEEP GAME CENTER RUNNING, BUT WE CAN’T PROMISE ANYTHING BEYOND THAT.  SO YOU CAN’T SUE US FOR ANY GAME CENTER WARRANTIES EITHER.

APPLE’S (AND WE MEAN ANYONE CONNECTED WITH OR TO APPLE) LIABILITY WILL BE LIMITED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW.  IN SOME JURISDICTIONS THIS MEANS YOU CANNOT SUE US FOR ANY DAMAGES (DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE, AND ANYTHING ELSE YOU CAN THINK OF).  IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS THE MAXIMUM LIMITATIONS SHALL BE APPLIED IN APPLE’S FAVOR. SO EVEN IF YOU SUE US YOU MAY GET NOTHING.

YOU ALSO AGREE THAT YOU CANNOT SUE US IF YOU VIOLATE THIS AGREEMENT AND YOU CANNOT SUE US FOR THE ACTIONS WE TAKE TO INVESTIGATE IF YOU HAVE VIOLATED THIS AGREEMENT.  AND IF WE GET SUED OVER SOMETHING YOU DID, YOU MUST INDEMNIFY US AND HOLD APPLE HARMLESS FOR ALL RELATED CLAIMS.

Yes, that’s a lot of screaming, but those are some big waivers by the user so it’s worth pointing them out.  Still, I’ve managed to cut the original 636 words down to 267.

Home stretch now.  Here’s the end of the original:

CHANGES

Apple reserves the right at any time to modify this Agreement and to impose new or additional terms or conditions on your use of the Service. Such modifications and additional terms and conditions will be effective immediately and incorporated into this Agreement. Your continued use of the Service will be deemed acceptance thereof.

MISCELLANEOUS

This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between you and Apple and governs your use of the Service, superseding any prior agreements between you and Apple regarding the Service. You also may be subject to additional terms and conditions that may apply when you use affiliate services, third-party content, or third-party software. If any part of this Agreement is held invalid or unenforceable, that portion shall be construed in a manner consistent with applicable law to reflect, as nearly as possible, the original intentions of the parties, and the remaining portions shall remain in full force and effect. Apple’s failure to enforce any right or provisions in this Agreement will not constitute a waiver of such or any other provision. Apple will not be responsible for failures to fulfill any obligations due to causes beyond its control.

The Service is operated by Apple from its offices in the United States. You agree to comply with all local, state, federal, and national laws, statutes, ordinances, and regulations that apply to your use of the Service. All transactions on the Service are governed by California law, without giving effect to its conflict of law provisions. Your use of the Service may also be subject to other laws. You expressly agree that exclusive jurisdiction for any claim or dispute with Apple or relating in any way to your use of the Service resides in the courts of the State of California. Risk of loss and title for all electronically delivered transactions pass to the purchaser in California upon electronic transmission to the recipient. No Apple employee or agent has the authority to vary this Agreement.

Apple may send you notice with respect to the Service by sending an email message to your Account email address or a letter via postal mail to your Account mailing address, or by a posting on the Service. Notices shall become effective immediately.

Apple reserves the right to take steps Apple believes are reasonably necessary or appropriate to enforce and/or verify compliance with any part of this Agreement. You agree that Apple has the right, without liability to you, to disclose any Registration Data and/or Account information to law enforcement authorities, government officials, and/or a third party, as Apple believes is reasonably necessary or appropriate to enforce and/or verify compliance with any part of this Agreement (including but not limited to Apple’s right to cooperate with any legal process relating to your use of the Service and/or products, and/or a third-party claim that your use of the Service and/or products is unlawful and/or infringes such third party’s rights).

Last updated: September 19, 2012

And here’s my take:

ALL THE REST

We may change this Agreement in the future.  We’ll let you know if we do and you can keep using the service to show you agree to the new terms.  This is the entire agreement between us for Game Center but there may be some other terms and conditions that apply when you use Game Center.

If any part of this Agreement is held invalid or unenforced by a court, the rest of the Agreement shall be construed in a way to uphold the intentions of the original Agreement.  If we decided not to pursue our rights under part of this Agreement we are not waiving any other rights.

We are not responsible for failing to fulfill any obligations for reasons outside our control.

Any lawsuits over this Agreement shall be filed in our home jurisdiction and shall be construed under California law.

If we need to send you a notice we’ll email your account or post something on Game Center.  It will be effective the moment we post it.

Finally, and thanks for sticking with us, if necessary Apple will take steps to verify your compliance with this Agreement.  That could include providing information to law enforcement or our investigators (which may include someone outside of Apple).  You agree to let us take any steps we deem reasonable and necessary.

Now go play some games.

Last updated: September 21, 2012

Not a huge cut here.  The original was 489 words and the new version is 234 words.  But it’s easier to read, I think.

So, all in we’ve cut a 3,289 word agreement down to 1,253.  That’s a 62% reduction.  It could be cut even more but doing so would require more strategic changes because substantive areas would be eliminated.  My exercise here was to keep all of the substance in the agreement but change how it was presented.  Here’s the word cloud for my version:

Can you find “Game Center” in my word cloud?

Although I inserted some content to make this more conversational, there’s more that could be done, but that would also add length and that wasn’t the goal here.

There’s certainly an argument that my language provides less coverage and even at 1,200+ words it may not be read.  But I hope this shows you a way that terms and conditions can be made in a friendlier way than they are today.

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Filed under Apple, Consumer Protection, Copyright, Privacy, Social Platforms, Terms and Conditions

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