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TOS;DR Summarizes Terms of Service, Warns Users

By - Source: Techcrunch | B 14 comments

How many terms of service have you actually read through before clicking accept?

Despite their importance, a majority of internet users just breeze through terms of service (TOS) agreements and click the accept button. For those that do read through them, the amount of legal jargon contained in them could be enough to make a non-lawyer's head spin. Unfortunately for us, accepting an application's TOS could mean giving up some rights we thought we had without even knowing.

Thanks to a new project called TOS;DR, whose name comes from the popular phrase TL;DR (too long;didn't read), the internet may finally become a little more clearer. The project hopes to empower users by giving them summaries of terms of service, highlighting potential issues and giving applications an overall rating from a scale of A to E.

Currently the worst rated app on the website, TwitPic, is rated with an E. TOS;DR states potential issues such as: "Deleted images are not really deleted", "You indemnify Twitpic from any claim related to your content" and "Twitpic takes credit for your content". This essentially means that TwitPic may take claim and credit for your uploaded photos at any point in time, without your permission or compensation. It could even mean selling a user's photos to the media without giving the photographer anything.

According to the TOS;DR project lead Hugo Roy, Wikipedia's short and concise summary of its TOS and its practice of soliciting feedback in regards to its terms should be the standard when it comes to TOS agreements. The TOS;DR project is still ongoing, but a number of widely used applications' TOS have already been summarized and rated. Head on over to tos-dr.info to see the ratings for yourself.

How thoroughly do you read TOS agreements before checking the accept box? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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  • 9 Hide
    ricdiculus , August 31, 2012 6:10 PM
    Apple reserves the right to connect your mouth to somones anus, and your anus to someones mouth. "Why wont it read!?!"
  • 1 Hide
    samkl , August 31, 2012 6:17 PM
    That is very useful. What if the added an option for people to leave their comments. This way others will judge about TOS by the comments others left. Did anyone ever read Apple's 58 page TOS?
  • -4 Hide
    ricardok , August 31, 2012 6:27 PM
    Read a TOS? No way.. Just accept/next... Install it please...
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , August 31, 2012 6:29 PM
    How come Apple's ToS is 58 actual pages anyway? We know the device is perfectly capable of displaying something 58 pages long in a contiguous block of text, so why did Apple make it so that users have to click to get to the next page? It's like they deliberately don't want people to read it or something.
  • 0 Hide
    dalethepcman , August 31, 2012 6:46 PM
    ToS and EULA are all garbage and do not hold up in a court of law. If a company like TwitPic were to use a picture of mine or of me without compensation, I would just go get the last 12 months of my work group copyrighted and sue the crap out of them for rights of publicity and invasion of privacy.

    That being said, its much better to know before hand that the company you are dealing with is shady, than to find out after they stole all your personal data and sold it. I wonder how facebook and sony rate...
  • -5 Hide
    reprotected , August 31, 2012 7:21 PM
    Tom's Hardware news in a nutshell: New post about a new product or device completely unrelated to Apple? "F*ck Apple, patent system is crap, Facebook needs to be shut down, America is corrupt" and some other unrelated topic discussing about something about anything else but about the topic.
  • 0 Hide
    Kami3k , August 31, 2012 7:22 PM
    dalethepcmanToS and EULA are all garbage and do not hold up in a court of law. If a company like TwitPic were to use a picture of mine or of me without compensation, I would just go get the last 12 months of my work group copyrighted and sue the crap out of them for rights of publicity and invasion of privacy.That being said, its much better to know before hand that the company you are dealing with is shady, than to find out after they stole all your personal data and sold it. I wonder how facebook and sony rate...


    They only don't hold up in court if a part of it is illegal. Which is kinda obvious.

    And LOL at suing for invasion of your privacy, the courts would laugh at that.
  • 2 Hide
    freggo , August 31, 2012 7:26 PM
    BelthesarHow come Apple's ToS is 58 actual pages anyway? We know the device is perfectly capable of displaying something 58 pages long in a contiguous block of text, so why did Apple make it so that users have to click to get to the next page? It's like they deliberately don't want people to read it or something.


    Kinda like some of the product reviews on THG; click...page...click...page...repeat 30 times :-)


  • 1 Hide
    d_kuhn , August 31, 2012 7:30 PM
    I think if these documents were actually readable (or had cliff notes like this tool) then we'd see a lot less sleazy language buried in the fine print. Way to go guys!

    Now I want an applet that detects TOS documents when they pop up and automatically analyzes them... I wouldn't even mind if it returned results to a database so others can see how good/evil the companies we're all doing business with are.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 31, 2012 7:32 PM
    To be fair a lot of the stuff in a TOS is just to cover their ass. For example Valve does offer refunds through their Steam service though it would have to be a fairly special circumstance and not "I dont like the game I just bought".

    For example I purchased Borderlands when the GOTY edition was on sale, but I wasn't paying attention and bought the non-GOTY instead. I opened a support ticket as soon as I realized what I did (hadn't even downloaded at that point), explained that I had meant to purchase the GOTY edition because it was only a few bucks more and if the difference could just be billed to my card. They said they couldn't bill the difference so instead they removed the game and issued a full refund so I could get the GOTY edition.

    100% my fault, and they could've easily just said "too bad so sad deal with it" but instead they helped me out. This is why Valve is an awesome company, a retail store like BestBuy probably wouldn't have even let me exchange it.
  • 0 Hide
    Angrynerds , August 31, 2012 7:56 PM
    This could be a good tool for reputable companies to get some good PR. They could have links to this site to say "See we're better than the competition". But it will probably never happen though, it would piss off their lawyers big time! This site will however make the TOS more readable to the average user who just clicks through so they can get their app installed or use the service they want. It's a good idea, this should have happened years ago!

    It's always good to do your homework on who you're dealing with, this just makes things that much easier. I will be sharing this link with all my friends and family. What they do with the info is up to them.
  • 1 Hide
    kinggraves , August 31, 2012 8:07 PM
    mat42UTo be fair a lot of the stuff in a TOS is just to cover their ass. For example Valve does offer refunds through their Steam service though it would have to be a fairly special circumstance and not "I dont like the game I just bought".For example I purchased Borderlands when the GOTY edition was on sale, but I wasn't paying attention and bought the non-GOTY instead. I opened a support ticket as soon as I realized what I did (hadn't even downloaded at that point), explained that I had meant to purchase the GOTY edition because it was only a few bucks more and if the difference could just be billed to my card. They said they couldn't bill the difference so instead they removed the game and issued a full refund so I could get the GOTY edition. 100% my fault, and they could've easily just said "too bad so sad deal with it" but instead they helped me out. This is why Valve is an awesome company, a retail store like BestBuy probably wouldn't have even let me exchange it.


    I'm pretty sure any company would allow you a refund if your intention was to buy a more expensive product. Although a company like Best Buy would have the system to remove your current product and ring up the new product immediately instead of just assuming on good faith that you're going to buy the more expensive product. I really doubt they would've refunded you had the situation been reversed and you were intending to get the less expensive version.

    Anyway, hopefully this site will extend itself to more than apps. I'd certainly like to see what the terms of some online games and Sony/MS products are hiding.
  • 2 Hide
    dalethepcman , August 31, 2012 8:37 PM
    Kami3kThey only don't hold up in court if a part of it is illegal. Which is kinda obvious. And LOL at suing for invasion of your privacy, the courts would laugh at that.

    Google "rights of publicity" and let me know how much you think Ford Motor Company was laughing when they lost a lawsuit to the tune of $2.5 million dollars for invasion of privacy and rights of publicity.

    Rights of publicity (the right to use your image or likeness in any publication) when used without your consent is invasion of privacy, hence why I put those two things hand in hand in my original message.

    Since you own the rights to all images of you upon creation. The ToS on TwiPic would instantly fall into the category of an unconscionable contract and be null and void.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconscionability
  • 0 Hide
    thillntn , September 4, 2012 12:07 AM
    dalethepcmanToS and EULA are all garbage and do not hold up in a court of law. If a company like TwitPic were to use a picture of mine or of me without compensation, I would just go get the last 12 months of my work group copyrighted and sue the crap out of them for rights of publicity and invasion of privacy.That being said, its much better to know before hand that the company you are dealing with is shady, than to find out after they stole all your personal data and sold it. I wonder how facebook and sony rate...


    If you want to know what stockholders think of $ony, just look at the stock price. I threw a party when it dropped under 25 bucks a share, and will again when it drops under 10. They have a wonderful TOS that I never agreed to when they added the no sue clause.