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Apple’s Terms and Conditions

by F. Peter Phillips
March 2017

Business Conflict Blog by Peter Phillips

F. Peter  Phillips

The invaluable publisher Drawn and Quarterly has ventured smack dab into current legal controversy with the February 2017 release of Terms and Conditions: The Graphic Novel, by Robert Sikoryak.

The artist has taken the complete text of the iTunes Terms and Conditions and set them to graphic comics form.  Moreover, each page of the book is an homage to a particular classic comic.  So the legalese of the click-through user agreement promulgated by Apple is adorned by exciting, often iconic, comics such as Peanuts, Donald Duck, Green Lantern, Rex Morgan and Barney Google.  Each page has been modified so that the leading male character is a mock-up of Steve Jobs, complete with black turtleneck and a scruffy beard.

Needless to say, as a student of consumer arbitration jurisprudence I immediately sought the portions of the book addressing dispute resolution.  I expected to  find both an arbitration agreement and a class action waiver.  I found neither.

The agreement provisions from the iTunes Store are based on Beetle Bailey, and call for application of California law and resolution in the courts of California.  So does the App Store agreement (based on the Japanese manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo), and so does the provision from the Apple Music contract (based on Brenda Starr).  No arbitration, no class action restrictions.

One feature will never die, though — the one that says that Apple can change any of these terms unilaterally, and that continued use of the product will constitute the consumer’s agreement to that change.

I get nostalgic for classic comics, and even more nostalgic for contracts where both parties are aware of what they’re agreeing to.

Biography


F. Peter Phillips is a commercial arbitrator and mediator with substantial experience providing consultation on the management of business disputes to companies around the globe.

A cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College and a magna cum laude graduate of New York Law School, Mr. Phillips served for nearly ten years as Senior Vice President of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR Institute). During that time, he earned a reputation as an author, teacher, industry liaison, and systems designer for the avoidance, management and resolution of complex and sophisticated business conflicts.

In 2008, Mr. Phillips formed Business Conflict Management LLC (BCM) in order to offer his direct services as a neutral and a consultant. Through BCM, Mr. Phillips also continues his career as a highly sought-after public speaker, facilitator and instructor.



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