February 28, 2007 |
Over the weekend, I listened to an hour-long podcast (exactly that length, actually) called This Week in Media, one of the many items on the TWIT.tv roster. What caught my attention, however, wasn’t the talk about Joost or Alex Lindsay’s insistence on bringing on something to do with iTunes at least once or twice during each show. It was the roundtable's debate about MSN Soapbox (If you can call it that. It was more like a “list your grievances about MSN Soapbox” moment.) that had me rethinking my piece on the official debut of the video site/host here on Profy published a number of days ago.
John Foster, the individual with the simplest, yet most poignant rant about the service, is the one who brought about these second thoughts of mine. He stated that he wanted nothing to do with Soapbox, a judgment which came about after reading Microsoft’s EULA for the product. In effect, it stated that the user would hereby acknowledge for any future reference that he/she was indeed a crook, a criminal, a thief. Microsoft would of course call in its best lawyers to refute that assessment, but can any of us “end users” state with any conviction that Microsoft does not subtly ask one to admit fault before fault can be had? Most of us do not read the agreements presented to us. We think the legal mumbo jumbo doesn’t apply to the average citizen.
Perhaps these kinds of agreements are “run of the mill”, leading us to expect all the stuff stated in every line is worth skipping, right down to the button labeled ‘I Agree’. Maybe they are just written up to cover all bases. But like the adage says, there are two sides to every story.
For Microsoft to essentially ask one to admit wrongdoing, regardless of whether or not any illegal actions have been taken, is improper. This doesn’t just go for Soapbox. It goes for all things MSN, and thus, all things Microsoft. And Apple. And Google. The list goes on.
How many times have you checked boxes, unknowingly signing away rights without reading the whitepaper?
If the John Fosters of the world read the fine print and don’t check the boxes, how sure are we that if properly informed, would do the opposite? Because day after day, we still check off on things without thought. That makes me wonder how much legal ground I still stand on. How about you?