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Fine Print Says Game Store Owns Your Soul 262

Posted by samzenpus
from the anything-to-beat-this-level dept.
mr_sifter writes "UK games retailer GameStation revealed that it legally owns the souls of thousands of customers, thanks to a clause it secretly added to the online terms and conditions for its website. The 'Immortal Soul Clause' was added as part of an attempt to highlight how few customers read the terms and conditions of an online sale. GameStation claims that 88 percent of customers did not read the clause, which gives legal ownership of the customer's soul over to the UK-based games retailer. The remaining 12 percent of customers however did notice the clause and clicked the relevant opt-out box, netting themselves a £5 GBP gift voucher in the process."

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Fine Print Says Game Store Owns Your Soul

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  • Legally owns.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FooAtWFU (699187) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:17AM (#31857302) Homepage
    for sufficient definitions of "unconscionable contract".
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "unconscionable contract"

      wouldn't this void all current contracts?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by thegarbz (1787294)
        Hardly. It's only unconscionable if it's unexpected by the signing party. Lets face it consumers expect to bend over in uncomfortable ways for telecom companies and software companies. It would almost be unconscionable for a contract to consist solely of "Here's the thing you bought, do what you like"
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by FooAtWFU (699187)
        There are some things that a court could be expected to say are reasonable in a contract. Three-figure monetary penalties are one example. "Your immortal soul" isn't.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tom (822)

          Only if the court accepts that such a thing actually exists and has a value to be considered.

          That's going to be one interesting court case, especially when the time for evidence comes.

          • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:35AM (#31858454) Journal

            That's going to be one interesting court case, especially when the time for evidence comes.

            Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of two-foot tall Ewoks?...

          • by Artifakt (700173)

            You've been modded funny, but just think, what happens if a court makes a legal ruling that:

            a: Souls do not exist and so a contract for one can't be arbitrated or enforced on that point.
            b: Souls definitely do exist and are infinitely valuable because there is a God who redeems them via immortality.
            b: Souls do exist, but they have only a finite value that can be controlled by the government because no religion that says they are immortal is true.

            How many of the people who gave you your funny will be laughing

            • by Tom (822)

              Hell, even Buddhists and Atheists sometimes kill over questions like this,

              [citation needed]

              The poor judge who has to deal with this will be walking on eggshells to avoid any ruling that even mentions whether souls exist or how much they are worth.

              Yes, he will. Maybe, just maybe, someone in there will realize just how crazy it is to kill each other over a word.
              Once you have reached that stage, welcome to Atheism, it's a few more easy steps in the same direction. :-)

              • Maybe, just maybe, someone in there will realize just how crazy it is to kill each other over a word.

                I'm not sure that will make any real difference. There will always be too many people who won't realize it, or will refuse to. Those are the ones that people have to worry about.

    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:26AM (#31857422) Journal

      for sufficient definitions of "unconscionable contract".

      Or for sufficient definitions of 'joke.'

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770)

      Meh, if GameStation wants to fight the devil over it when I get sent down to the cellar, I'm not seeing too many downsides. Unless GameStation is run by Cthulhu, in which case it's the greater evil.

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      The mistake both you and the article's author make is in assuming that we didn't willingly forfeit our souls.

      In fact, I feel much better now, knowing that nothing I do will affect the fate of my soul. At least I did, until they told me they weren't going to exercise their option. Apparently I have a lot of candy to return to some very upset babies now.

    • by harl (84412)

      I don't think that word means what you think it means.

      There's nothing unconscionable about this contract. Unconscionable does not mean the user is a dumbass who didn't read the contract. Unconscionable requires uneven bargaining positions; which is impossible in a sale of luxury goods.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:21AM (#31857358)

    My soul has been pissing me off.

    I mean for real, stop whining - I know - I'm slowly killing you with violent video games - give it a rest already.

  • Dear GameStation, I would like to inquire as to the price of my soul. ... and if you have a chance, could I have a quote on the soul of "1337gAm0r122" from your forums . Best Regards, Joe
  • by bradgoodman (964302) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:30AM (#31857472) Homepage
    "I'll throw in my sense of decency for an extra $5 - It's a Bart sales bonanza, everything must go!"
  • Make it readable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:34AM (#31857532)

    If you want me to read it, make it readable.

    1. NO legalese
    2. One page maximum length

    Putting a 30 page wall of text full of legalese and word games does NOT constitute a useful document. I'm paying for a product, not to play lawyer.

    • by Vohar (1344259) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:39AM (#31857620)

      Funny thing about legal documents: It doesn't matter if you read them, understand them, whatever. Only that you sign them.

      • by Shakrai (717556)

        I've never signed an EULA, have you?

        BY REPLYING TO THIS POST YOU AGREE TO PAY ME THE SUM OF ONE HUNDRED US DOLLARS.

        Somehow I think I'll have a hard time suing you when you respond and don't pay me.....

        • by Vohar (1344259)

          My point was that they don't -want- people able to understand them. I'm sorry that I overestimated your intelligence and didn't explicitly spell that out.

          • by Shakrai (717556)

            My point was that they don't -want- people able to understand them

            Whose fault is that? The company or those that keep doing business with it in spite of the legalese?

            I'm sorry that I overestimated your intelligence

            Wow, how witty. Did you have to think real hard to come up with that and the AC sock puppet reply?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sjames (1099)

            And HIS point was that unless he signs it, it's just a bunch of meaningless babble and should be treated as such. Looks like this thread is 0 for 2!

      • It doesn't matter if you read them, understand them, whatever. Only that you sign them.

        On the contrary, there must be "meeting of the minds"—agreement by both parties regarding the terms of the contract—before a contract is considered valid or enforceable. However, it is typical for the signature line on a contract to explicitly state that you have read it and understand the terms. Why should anyone doubt your own word on the matter? Aside from cases of coercion or misrepresentation by the other party, your statement that you read and understood the contract is rightfully the fina

      • Funny thing about legal documents: It doesn't matter if you read them, understand them, whatever. Only that you sign them.

        It's a very good idea for you to act as if this is the case when considering whether or not to sign something, but its not actually true in many cases.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by samkass (174571)

      I think every software review needs to include reading and understanding the EULA in the "time to install" and "time to update" metric.

      When the review hits the stands that "Windows 7 takes a week and $200 in lawyers fees to install" maybe something will change?

    • by bill_kress (99356)

      What on earth makes you think they want you to read it. They would prefer you didn't and just said you did--which you do. Hey, it works!

  • by organgtool (966989) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:35AM (#31857540)
    If they can find a way to collect it they can have it
  • No soul to sell. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dan541 (1032000) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:43AM (#31857694) Homepage

    Considering that I do not have a "Soul" I fail to see the threat.

    Would you like my pet Unicorn with that?

  • by MrTripps (1306469) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:44AM (#31857710)
    I sold my soul to rock 'n roll a long time ago. Suckers!
  • The company store already own's my soul!

    So, even by accepting your terms, YOU STILL F*CKING LOSE! /cackle

  • Funny how everyone picks up on the 'aint no such thing as a soul' and no one comments on how this is quite an interesting way of showing how nobody ever reads the terms (me included), and encouraging people to do so. ... of course, on the other hand you could call it cheap cynical publicity... as if reading the terms and conditions ever made a difference.
  • by Dunbal (464142) *

    thanks to a clause it secretly added to the online terms and conditions for its website.

          Er no, no it doesn't, thanks to a clause I secretly added to our agreement. They can come to my house and read it if they want.

          After all, if the law allows a party to state implicit agreement to a contract and/or modify said contract - the law applies to EVERYONE, including the other party of the contract.

  • OK, it's a joke. But selling one's soul is a cardinal sin in some significant religions. Want to bet that more than one priest hears this about in the confessional? And some folks will not be amused.
  • I am surprised it was that high, I have never ready any of the terms and conditions I have ever agreed to.

  • Not "idle" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:21AM (#31858274)

    This is an important problem. And this was a really great way to highlight it. Huge props for Gamestop for doing this, instead of profiting from it.

    The real problem though, is not people not reading it. The problem is, that in practice it’s impossible to read all the terms of all the contracts.
    First they are deliberately written in undecipherable legal code. Something that should be illegal, but isn’t because it’s so hard to define.
    Then it’s way too much. You would have to read a multi-page small-font document, every time you pull out your wallet. (Yes, the terms can change in the two days between you going to the same shop to buy your food.)
    And finally, the whole thing is also deliberately made hard to access. How often did you go into a building with house rules, or signed a contract that mentioned them or some other external document, but they never handed them to you, and even acted annoyed and insulted, when you pointed it out, and demanded the document?

    It is 100% crystal clear that pretty much all companies do not want you to read any of it, for the very purpose of them biting you in the ass as soon as you trip over the tiniest irregularity. Or even without doing anything.

    Most contracts basically go like this:
    [big font] WE MAKE YOUR DREAM COME TRUE FOR FREE [/big font]
    [tiny font] There is some hidden document in the lower drawer in the basement of a building on the other side of the world, that is part of what you sign [tiny font]
    [hidden document] We give you NOTHING, but take from you EVERYTHING! [hidden document]

    And that is no different than mob tactics. In fact I say it out loud, and call every major corporation on this world a criminal mob with the sole purpose of making as much money as possible, even when it means walking over more dead bodies than the Nazis.
    Examples: Monsanto, Haliburton, Eli Lily, Shell, Elsevier.
    They all have private armies. They all have revolving doors with every big government. They all make huge profits with lies, death and deception. ...hell, Microsoft is a silly small fish in that area, when compared to those. But still way above the line of acceptable moral behavior.

    • by Zordak (123132)
      I think you're overreacting a little bit. I've written terms of use for websites for some of my clients. They're usually not that big a deal. They say things like we're not giving up any copyright and you can't use our website for illegal purposes. And they're generally accessible via a simple link at the bottom of each page that says "Terms of Use" (there's also usually a one for "Privacy Policy"). The courts are well aware that the majority of users don't read these things. Heck, I'm a lawyer, and I
      • You're brave. "I'm a Lawyer, but I don't read Terms of Use or EULAs", why are these things valid if everyone, including the people that can actually read and understand them, ignore them.

        I'm a victim of the Sony PS3/Linux issue. I bought my PS3 to use Linux and play games. Now Sony is hiding behind the EULA saying they have a right to take away a feature people bought the original system for. I never agreed to let them remove anything, customer service keeps pointing me to the Maintenance and upgrade sectio

      • by sjames (1099)

        That's fine and dandy if and only if they contain perfectly ordinary terms and conditions. If there is anything unusual (such as we can change the agreement unilaterally at any time, you might THINK you bought something, but you didn't, etc) then it should hold no weight at all since (by your own admission) even lawyers don't read them.

        If they hold no weight beyond conventional and well understood terms, they should just be implied and we can save some trees.

        In this particular case, it is obviously a joke,

  • NOT IDLE !! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:28AM (#31858366) Homepage Journal

    this is not idle. this is a very serious and important issue. it proves how useless and detrimental current legal contract system is. it is infeasible for any user/customer to sit and read 4-5 pages of text and then to weight it and then to agree. EVEN if you did that, chances are high that you would still fail to assess it properly, because most require extensive local legal knowledge. The article shouldnt have been in idle. its some important issue that affects everyone and every business.

  • Ha, joke's on them! I sold my soul on eBay YEARS ago, twice!
  • I suggest you sue and claim the full value of your soul. Current consensus is that's about £5

  • And there is no such thing as an "unconscionable contract" when it comes to souls?

    In fables, a lot of soul acquisition turns on trickery.

    This would be a pretty major supernatural event.

    The store owner could die and find he has major stroke in the afterworld.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:56AM (#31858742) Homepage
    Specifically, there has to be a requirement any contract that is NOT signed by a lawyer for the both sides as well as the participants, must:

    1. Be no more than 800 words (2 pages or so)

    2. Contain no latin or other legal terms that the average High School Graduate does not understand.

    If the contract is longer or uses other words, than non-lawyers can NOT be expected to understand them anymore than I could be expected to understand a page in French.

  • by GigG (887839) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:58AM (#31858768)
    I'm really surprised that 12% actually read the TOS enough to opt out of the soul ownership clause. I would have expected a much lower number.
    • by tsalmark (1265778) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:26PM (#31859204) Homepage
      I also was very surprised by the high percentage of people reading the legalese, especially as the opt-out is not something you would notice with out reading the document. But I think we can assume the first person to read, opt-out and get a $5 coupon ran and told all the online game forums. Everyone else just [ctrl]-Fed themselves a coupon with out actually reading anything.
  • "was added as part of an attempt to highlight how few customers read the terms and conditions of an online sale."

    Interesting. To me it looks like an example of how retailers drown customers in excessive terms and conditions, leaving the retailer free to make unreasonable demands in bad faith if they so choose. I realise that GameStation were illustrating (in a humourous way, it was funny and good-natured) something that's worth knowing - that you are agreeing to whatever that says (in principle, subject t

  • Fine print (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nephrite (82592)

    But seriously, I don't know why having "fine print" in contracts is even legal. For any "reasonable person" it's obvious that having fine print is an attempt of one party to have the other not to read the print, which is a fraud at best. Seriously, what a honest person would need a fine print for? Conservation of paper?

  • I purposely never read EULAs. I know this isn't a valid legal theory, but morally I feel a contract is only valid when there is a meeting of the minds (this is "supposed to be" the way contract law works, if I understand correctly). Thus, if I don't read it, it is not possible for me to meet my mind with theirs. If I read a EULA, I might feel a moral compunction to abide by it; but if I skip right to the software, then my actions need only be directed by my pre-existing moral compass.

    Yet, because I am inter

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