1. Eh ?

    You think that it’s a good thing that contracts include terms to the effect of negating the principal point of the contract ?

    “We agree that our payment to you commits you to nothing”

    Obviously, users who have paid nothing have to accept that the “free lunch” may at one point cease to be available. Paying customers who enter into an agreement with a term such as Dropbox’s as quoted, and who do so “with their eyes open” presumably accepting that they have a good deal, likewise will have no legitimate basis for complaint.

    But for those who provide valuable consideration, but do not have the term brought to their attention, this is legal trickery. It should not IMHO be commended, or even countenanced, by lawyers, and this has already been recognised by some court decisions.

    • Evan Brown

      Fergus – Definitely agree with you that legal trickery is to be avoided. I suppose the a critical part of the analysis on your point is of the manner and extent to which users may be made aware of the terms of service. The cases I know of where courts have held website terms and conditions unenforceable (e.g., Specht v. Netscape) have involved situations where the user was not presented with a meaningful opportunity to read and indicate assent to the terms. Are you proposing a heightened standard in certain circumstances, or to highlight certain provisions, such as termination like this? I’d be interested in hearing if there is anything unique to the approach in Ireland.

  2. Jay Parkhill

    Fergus – I agree with you that if a service pulls an important feature it is a bad sign for the business.

    That said, all the clients I work with take the view that their service is 100% likely to change over time. If they withdraw a feature that turns out to be important to a subset of users, the question is what remedy the users have. Typically we limit that to “if you don’t like it you can stop using the service”.

    In the vein of legal nitpicking: interesting that Dropbox, which charges users, says it can suspend “the Service”. Youtube and Reddit say they can discontinue features. I haven’t read the complete terms so maybe Dropbox allows itself to change features elsewhere in the document.

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