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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".
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:25AM (#31857416)

      "unconscionable contract"

      wouldn't this void all current contracts?

      • by thegarbz (1787294) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:46AM (#31857738)
        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:Legally owns.... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by FooAtWFU (699187) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:08AM (#31858086) Homepage
        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.
        • by Tom (822) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:17AM (#31858210) Homepage Journal

          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) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:36AM (#31858484)

            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 three tenths of a second after they hear the entire courtroom was taken out with a rocket propelled grenade and someone is hanging local government officials with the sign "Antichrist" (Or "Apostate of the Koran", or "Papist" or "Heretic" or whatever) around their necks? Hell, even Buddhists and Atheists sometimes kill over questions like this, and my own religion is full of aggressive nutcases (Yes, I'm a Protestant). 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.

            • by Tom (822) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:57AM (#31858752) Homepage Journal

              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. :-)

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

      for sufficient definitions of "unconscionable contract".

      Or for sufficient definitions of 'joke.'

    • Re:Legally owns.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:41AM (#31857658) Homepage

      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) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @01:21PM (#31859990) Homepage

      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) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:09PM (#31860722)

      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.

  • by bakestyle20 (951118) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:30AM (#31857468)
    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 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!
  • by dwiget001 (1073738) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:45AM (#31857724)

    The company store already own's my soul!

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

  • by thredder (1211746) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:51AM (#31857800)
    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) * on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:54AM (#31857828)

    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.
  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:07AM (#31858078) Homepage

    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) <.gro.todhsals. .ta. .deteled.> 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) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:48AM (#31858628) Homepage Journal
      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 don't generally read Terms of Use, EULAs, or the stack of documents that you sign when you buy a house. But they serve a valid and necessary purpose. They provide clarity about the parties' relationship, and if a person wants to do something other than just look at the webpage, they should read the Terms of Use to see what it says about it. That's why there are protections, both statutory and common law, for consumers. It lets us use form contracts without getting carried away. A very draconian, highly unexpected and completely-unrelated-to-the-transaction term like selling your soul would be voidable in pretty much every court that follows English common law tradition. This was a joke. Have a hearty chuckle and move on.
      • by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:23PM (#31859164)

        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 section of the EULA that say's they may change or update a feature to maintain the security of the system. NO WHERE does it say they can remove a feature.

        I'm not asking for advice because 1) You shouldn't be expected to provide any and 2) It wouldn't do me any good. That being said, a lot of the Sony fanboys use the "You agreed to the EULA" as an be-all-end-all argument. I'm not upgrading my system, which means I can't use any new games or new BluRay movies on it. I've decided it's not worth wasting my time complaining about it anymore and I'm just not going to buy anymore Sony products, but I'd like to at least be able to feel personally vindicated. Do you personally think what has been done is ok?

      • by sjames (1099) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:43PM (#31861176) Homepage

        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, and a funny one at that. Like most funny jokes, it's funny because it contains a grain of truth.

  • 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.

  • by travdaddy (527149) <travo&linuxmail,org> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:39AM (#31858512)
    Ha, joke's on them! I sold my soul on eBay YEARS ago, twice!
  • by Snart Barfunz (526615) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:42AM (#31858552)

    I suggest you sue and claim the full value of your soul. Current consensus is that's about £5

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:55AM (#31858716)

    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.
  • by Lemming Mark (849014) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:14PM (#31859012) Homepage

    "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 to whether a court upholds the contract, you then have to abide by it). But really, if I want to buy a game in a bricks and mortar shop I just buy it, I don't have to wade through pages of T&Cs on my own time. That happens when I open the box ;-)

    GameStation have moved their T&C page so that you don't even have to look at them during the order process, so it's not really surprising if people are treating their online shop like ... a shop.

  • Fine print (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nephrite (82592) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:53PM (#31859620) Journal

    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?

  • by Myopic (18616) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:37PM (#31861110)

    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 interested, I do sometimes read open-source licenses. Of those, I haven't yet found one that I couldn't agree to.

    (Let me re-emphasize, because I'm confident that some people will ignore what I said: I know this isn't a valid legal theory. This is simply a matter of structuring my actions to comply with my moral notions.)

Luck, that's when preparation and opportunity meet. -- P.E. Trudeau