On April Fool's day, the online game store Gamestation.co.uk added language to its clickthrough license that asked customers to surrender their immortal souls, though it offered a checkbox to opt out if you wanted to keep yours. 7,500 customers did not check the box.
By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from gamesation.co.uk or one of its duly authorised minions....we reserve the right to serve such notice in 6 (six) foot high letters of fire, however we can accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by such an act. If you a) do not believe you have an immortal soul, b) have already given it to another party, or c) do not wish to grant Us such a license, please click the link below to nullify this sub-clause and proceed with your transaction."
I'm guessing that a small minority of the customers didn't check the box because they knew it was all a gag, but I believe the majority didn't check it off because they didn't read the agreement. No one reads the agreements.
Because they aren't agreements. The legal fiction that you can create agreement merely by throwing tens of thousands of words' worth of arcane legalese at a customer does incredible violence to the noble institution of agreement. It's truly a plague of idiocy.
READ CAREFULLY. By reading this blog post, you agree, on behalf of your employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all NON-NEGOTIATED agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete and acceptable use policies ("BOGUS AGREEMENTS") that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any BOGUS AGREEMENTS on behalf of your employer.
7,500 Online Shoppers Unknowingly Sold Their Souls
(Image: File:Faust und Mephisto, Stich von Tony Johannot.jpg, Wikimedia Commons)
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