A broader implementation of human readable contracts

CC Terms

The success and popularity of the creative commons license is symptomatic of the growing sentiment of Internet users and authors against the expansionary nature of intellectual property law. The creative commons license allows the authors of creative works to license out of default copyright provisions and allows greater rights to the users of their works. The creative commons license is not the only one kind of license and there exist several such licenses. The different between the creative commons license is its wide implementation due to its user friendliness.

The standard form creative commons license comes in several flavors and allows authors to pick and choose which rights they want to grant the users and which they want to retain. Aiding this process are pictorial representations which help an artist choose the license. Such a pictorial representation is called by the creative commons website a, “human readable contract” (as opposed to a lawyer readable contract??).

The success of the license calls into question the implementation of, “human readable contracts” on an industry wide level (by industry I mean the online services industry). Such a system would help be a great alternative to the process of making an online user of the service scroll through a page of contract terms, which are either incomprehensible or too long to read. In most situations a subscriber sees the long flowing paragraphs as walls between him and the service and wants to get it out of the way. An analysis of the data would reveal that if a website requires a sign up the user just quickly wants to avail the service and will rarely go through the terms.

A consumer society administered system, with a standard form of such terms matched with pictures would go a long way in making substantial assent to the terms presumptively existent. On the sign up besides the “human readable contract”, the service provider can also provide the subscriber with the actual terms of the contract and then avoid any quandary in court. This system will be mutually beneficial to both online service providers as well as subscribers. It will be especially helpful to online services which sell different services on the basis of different contract terms, such as online car insurance companies. Also litigation prone online services, where the validity of the acceptance and the lack of agreement between the parties always comes in to issue.

However, a question does loom as to how much do the service providers want us to know about the terms of a contract, their policies as to targeted advertising as well as the personal data they collect about us. Though if such a system is adopted it would be immensely popular with subscribers. To be popular with lawyers it just would have to change its name to, laymen readable contracts.