Dropbox arbitration

February 26th, 2014

Turns out that the latest change to Dropbox's Terms of Service merits a second look:

If you're a Dropbox user, you probably got an email in the last few days about an update to their TOS that basically puts all disputes into arbitration rather than litigation.

If you're like me, you probably glossed over this update because gah, legalese.

Allow me to summarize what it means when a company wants to handle all disputes in arbitration […]

Basically, if you'd prefer not to have Dropbox choose who gets to decide whether they did something wrong, you have a limited amount of time to opt out of their new TOS. You may think this is no big deal but it's still good to be aware of your options,1 especially when they're time-limited.

Kudos to Tiffany Bridge and Khoi Vinh for bringing this to their readers' attention.

[Via Subtraction.com]

  1. So what happens if most people opt out? Perhaps Dropbox conclude that their users don't like losing the option to take legal action against the company and learn a lesson from that. Alternatively, they decide they'd be much happier dealing with users who are willing to forego the option of litigation if there's a dispute and bring the clause back in the next TOS revision, only this time without the option of opting-out. At which point Dropbox users have a decision to make.

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If your suffering leads to our suffering, you may be liable for damages.

July 11th, 2013

Terms And Conditions May Apply:

6) In Exchange for These Services

a. In exchange for visiting this website, you have agreed to publish a post stating that you have visited this website on Facebook. Failure to do so may result in legal action.

b. Furthermore, and with the same applicable penalties, you have also agreed to watch the film "Terms and Conditions May Apply", in any or all of the following mediums: Theatrical, VOD, SVOD, DVD, airplane, cruise ship, hotel, or building wall.

Clause 6a. will in future be known as the Jay-Z clause.

[Via MetaFilter]

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You say 'China-style internet policy' like it's a bad thing.

December 16th, 2011

Get Your Censor On.

Why shouldn't the US government censon the internet?

[Via jwz]

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Crisp v Apple Retail

November 12th, 2011

Remember when Apple made TV adverts styling themselves as opponents of Big Brother. Judging by a recent Employment Tribunal finding, that stance is inoperative:

Crisp, who worked in an Apple Store, posted derogatory statements on Facebook about Apple and its products. The posts were made on a "private" Facebook page and outside of working hours. One of his colleagues, who happened to be a Facebook "friend", saw the comments, printed the posts and passed them to the store manager. Crisp was subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct.

The employment tribunal rejected Crisp's claim for unfair dismissal. […]

Despite having "private" Facebook settings, the tribunal decided that there was nothing to prevent friends from copying and passing on Crisp's comments, so he was unable to rely on the right to privacy contained in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (covered in the UK by the Human Rights Act 1998). He retained his right to freedom of expression under Article 10, but Apple successfully argued that it was justified and proportionate to limit this right in order to protect its commercial reputation against potentially damaging posts.

I'm not saying that the tribunal's findings are wrong in law: apparently Apple Retail's 'social media policy' emphasised that employees were forbidden from posting unfavourable opinions on the company's products on social media sites, so on the face of it the ex-employee was in breach of this policy.

My problem is threefold:

  1. With the tribunal, for apparently holding that even though the employee used Facebook's privacy controls to restrict access to his comments the fact that someone could have copied-and-pasted the text of those comments negated his right to privacy.1 By that logic, if he'd been talking to a couple of friends in a pub or in his home, the fact that one of his pals could have surreptitiously recorded his comments using their smartphone renders those comments public too. This is a terribly bad idea.
  2. With Apple Retail, for trying to gag their employees outside working hours. I don't doubt that their social media policy bans derogatory comments from employees. I just think that a) they shouldn't be trying to control what employees do when they're not at work, and b) they need to distinguish between genuinely public expressions of dissatisfaction and private letting-off of steam.
  3. With the little shit who ratted on his 'friend'2 to his Apple Store bosses.

[Via The Register, via Risks Digest Volume 26: Issue 60]

  1. I'd be more well-disposed towards the finding if they'd held that Facebook's policy of frequently expanding the boundaries of what portions of a user's content is publicly available means that a Facebook user couldn't be sure how long private postings would remain private!
  2. Yet another demonstration of how unsuited that term is to the way social networking actually works.

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Christmas Humphreys

July 25th, 2011

The story of the murder of John Beckley on Clapham Common in 1953 encompasses knife crime, the coining of the phrase 'Teddy Boy', and a barrister by the name of Christmas Humphreys:

[Senior counsel for the prosecution] Humphreys wasn't your usual common or garden barrister, he was also the author of many works on Mahayana Buddhism. In fact Penguin had published his book Buddhism: An Introduction and Guide just two years previously in 1951 and has, somewhere in the world, remained in print ever since. Indeed Humphreys had founded the Buddhist Society in London in 1924 (it still exists and is now one of the oldest Buddhist organisations outside Asia) and was the most notable Buddhist in the country.

By the time of the Michael John Davies trial in the autumn of 1953 Christmas Humphreys had already had an extraordinary year. If he had been the sort of person who worried about what people thought of him (and he almost certainly wasn't) he would have wished the upcoming Clapham Common murder trial to be as uncontroversial as possible.

The reason why Humphreys might have hoped for a quiet, uncontroversial trial was that had already been involved in a couple of highly controversial cases1 involving the death penalty, cases that ended up leading to the suspension of the use of the death penalty for murder just a couple of years before Humphreys became a judge himself.

  1. A couple of years after the trial of Michael John Davies, Humphreys was the lead prosecutor in the Ruth Ellis trial. All told, Christmas Humphreys was such a central figure in Britain's use of the death penalty in the 1950s that he has been played on-screen five times in films and TV plays about the various high-profile trials he was involved in. Has any other real-life barrister been depicted on film and TV as often?

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Run it up the flagpole…

May 21st, 2011

Daz Wright flies the flag for Eric Pickles:

I, like most people, gave a little patriotic cheer when Eric Pickles announced that the pointlessly bureaucratic rules on flag flying are going to be relaxed. Pickles has always been a man that is willing to confront the issues that others shy away from. […]

[Via We Love Local Government]

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May 14th, 2011

Nice metaphor:

CharleyCarp 05.13.11 at 1:34 pm

Some people like to use battle metaphors for trials, but that's just because they like to think of themselves as macho he-men. I prefer to compare going to trial to putting on a musical. Where you want the spectators humming your overture during intermission, and joining in the singalong section at the end.

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Panoramafreiheit isn't even the worst of it

April 9th, 2011

Tom Morris posted an fine rant demanding non-pathological copyright laws now!

The problem with copyright isn't that it exists. It's that the implementation is completely fucking insane.

I'm especially indebted to him for his lucid explanation of the implications of Panoramafreiheit.

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Very truly yours…

December 22nd, 2010

Back in 1974 James N Bailey, General Counsel to the Cleveland Browns NFL franchise, responded to a letter from an unhappy season ticket holder with what might just be the best reply ever committed to paper.1

[Via Deadspin, via The Awl]

  1. Somehow it just wouldn't have the same impact had it been sent by email. It's something about the letterhead, the "Very truly yours" sign-off, and the fact it was cc:d to the then-owner of the Browns, Art Modell.

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Known pasts, known futures and unknown futures

December 9th, 2010

Martin Belam has posted his notes on a talk that he recently attended by John Sheridan in which Sheridan discussed the challenges faced by www.legislation.gov.uk in turning the text of UK legislation into hypertext:

The task before them therefore was to try and take that written word and turn it into linked data with a clear semantic model. It is a very complex and rich set of information to try and represent as pure data. […] It is common in law for a new Act to insert some text into the body of a previous one. This gives a versioning problem. As John Sheridan put it: "The statute book has known pasts, known futures, and unknown futures. All at the same time"


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