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Should you agree to Apple’s terms and conditions?

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Before you click Agree, here’s what Apple is asking permission for in it’s small print

How many times have you clicked Agree when you saw a message asking if you had read and agreed to Apple’s terms and conditions without so much as glancing at them?

We assume that you have better things to do then spend time ploughing through Apple’s lengthy legal documents, especially since the Apple Media Services Ts&Cs stretch to 12 A4 pages (if you were to print them out). The length and boring nature of the legal documents has inspired an episode of south park and a comic book (as see in the picture above).

Faced with such a lengthy and boring document it’s likely that you click on Agree without a second thought. But due to a law passed in 2000, when you select ‘Agree’ it serves as an electronic signature, so clicking or tapping on Agree is as legally binding as signing your own signature.

Would you be so quick to agree to it if you knew the what was in the document? While Apple’s a trustworthy company, unlikely to be attempting to swindle you, there is still good reason to pay some attention to the Ts&Cs. Here are a couple of reasons why you might want to:

Are you choosing between two products? Before you make your purchase check the Ts&Cs to see what might happen if something goes wrong. Would the legal document you are about to sign mean that you wouldn’t get a replacement device? Is there some small print stating that Apple doesn’t have to support the product in the future.

Another reason to give the terms some attention is in case your privacy could be infringed.

In a blog post, anti-virus industry expert Graham Cluley writes: “Everyone should be more diligent about checking T&Cs and ensuring that they are comfortable with them. If we all did that… who knows? Maybe we’d not only stumble across the occasionally humorous clause, but also see something that rings privacy alarm bells.”

Is there anything to ring alarm bells in Apple’s terms and conditions? Read on to find out whether you should accept Apple’s terms and conditions.

What are Apple’s Terms & Conditions?
– Long
– Boring
– Difficult to read
– Legally binding

Let’s face it, Apple’s terms and conditions are boring, but they are also legally binding and that is a reason to pay them some attention.

You might trust that Apple isn’t asking you to sign away the right to park on your drive way, but would you be happy to agree to Apple knowing when you are at home, but also everywhere else you go with your iPhone?

Would you be happy to agree that you are buying the right to use software, but not the software itself, and that if Apple (or another developer) decides to stop making and supporting it then you can’t complain if the software suddenly stops working.

For example, imagine you had invested in Apple’s now discontinued photo library management tool Aperture. A look at the fine print indicates that Apple hadn’t promised to develop the software indefinitely. There’s a section in the terms that says Apple can change, suspend or remove any product or content that it chooses.

Apple doesn’t purposely make its terms and conditions long and boring and difficult to read. In theory it could shorten them, or summarise them, or pull out a few bullet points at the beginning to let you know if something has changed since you were last confronted with them. But if it was to do so someone could argue in court that insufficient emphasis was placed on something buried further down in the document. And Apple doesn’t want that to happen.

The terms and conditions are really to protect Apple from legal action against it should you be unsatisfied with the product, or if the product causes some sort of injury to befall a customer. In addition, the terms are designed to protect Apple’s property from being used, or distributed, illegally.

What am I agreeing to when I agree to Apple’s Ts&Cs?

Apple has more than one set of terms and conditions. On the legal section of its website you will find Software License Agreements, iPad, iPhone and iPod touch Terms & Conditions, Application Software Licences, and the Apple Media Services Terms and Conditions, amongst others.