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Friday, November 21, 2008

Vindication on Reading The Terms and Conditions

You are browsing the web, then you found this really cool site. And since you think that its worth that you sign up an account with them, you go through the registration process. Well. It then instructs you to read the site's Terms and Conditions. And it's 19 pages long! The same happens when you install a software, open source or licensed. You are asked to read this very long, very detailed and very, um, uninteresting list of things that you should comply. But what really is this? Is it important to read all of it?

The Terms and Conditions is the list of, well, terms and conditions that a certain company, group or individuals set when you are joining them or using their resources. It is what they wanted you to comply with. It is here that they state their rights on the content and their limitations as a provider or yours as a user or as a member. For example, when signing up on a certain site, you need to agree first and confirm your acceptance on the rules that they set, which includes the permissions that they provide you, the restrictions on the use of their site contents, your conduct while on membership and lastly, the indemnity with you participation (meaning, you hold them not reliable for any action that you take on or outside the domains premises).

But is it really important to read all these before agreeing? Yes. I would assume that most of us here would rather skip this step by simply agreeing to the terms and conditions without understanding it. But this is wrong.

There are advantages in reading through all of it. One of which is that you will be informed of what are your limitations, thus, preventing future issues out of their support. For instance, you did something that violates the terms and conditions of a software which resulted for the program to not function properly. This would be one of the situations wherein they would not offer any assistance to solve the problem, your problem.

But you can also use your limitations on their terms to review if your benefits do outweigh them. I mean, you wouldn't want to spend or waste your money on something not useful, right? But this is most of the time committed because of the wrong information due to self assumption, something that could have been prevented if you read through their conditions.

Another advantage is to know what it the scope of your possible actions that do not violate the law. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects original content on the web and reserves the its rights to the original author. This is the law that is mostly ignored by internet users. But well, the law excuses no one.

Always read the Terms and Conditions. It may take a while, but it is very worth of your time.

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