Ah the mandatory terms and conditions

I chose to read about Apple’s terms and conditions since I have been a loyal iphone user since the iphone4s came out, and I use a MacBook almost everyday. Upon google searching “Apple terms and conditions”, I clicked on the second link which brought me to this page and more specifically, I chose to read the internet services section.

Source: https://www.apple.com/legal/internet-services/itunes/

What I noticed was that the user has to select their region, which to me suggest that perhaps the terms and conditions are different for each region. To further investigate if I was correct, I decided to compare Canada’s terms and conditions to Asia’s terms and conditions. I read both the terms and conditions side to side until I found differences within them.

Source: desktop screenshot (left=Canada, right=China)

The first difference I came across was that the “season pass and multi-pass” option is not available in China. This option essentially allows Apple users to watch TV shows. The difference between a season pass and multi pass is that a season pass can only be used for a limited number of episodes and a multi pass is used continuously. Perhaps this option is not available in China because China’s government censors its media and filters what can and cannot be accessed[1]. In this way, people in China are limited in terms of certain television content or may not even have access to it at all.

Other than that one difference between Canada and China’s terms and conditions, I didn’t come across anything else too drastic. In terms of literature, I found the terminology and legal vocabulary not too hard to understand. I did notice that perhaps the more important parts of the terms and conditions such as “warranties”,” waivers” and “liabilities” sections were written in capitals for both countries. This suggests to me that the device itself is up to the user’s responsibility for proper care and maintenance, and the information shared by the user protects the company itself from being sued and other related legal purposes.

I believe that the length of the terms and conditions discourages users to go through and meticulously read the entire document as it is incredible time consuming. For instance, most users tend to just click the “accept” button on the 56 page terms and conditions (I myself have been guilty of doing so). Non-expert users are unfamiliar with the complex terminology and have trouble decoding it along with repeated/redundant words being used.

Even CNN has analyzed Apple’s terms and conditions. Umika Pidaparthy reports that Apple is not trying to do anything wrong or trick their customers with its lengthy terms and conditions, they simply just want to protect their content[2]. Other ways to improve a user’s comprehension is to use shorter, more concise sentences while paraphrasing. Some legal terms cannot be simplified, thus explaining and defining the meaning of such terms will help users further understand.

In the meantime, the next time Apple (or any company) sends out an update on their terms and conditions, it might be worthwhile to give it a glance instead of automatically pressing “accept”.


[1] C. (2017, February 17). Media Censorship in China. Retrieved September 23, 2017, from https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/media-censorship-china

[2] Pidaparthy, U. (2011, May 06). What you should know about iTunes’ 56-page legal terms. Retrieved September 23, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2011/TECH/web/05/06/itunes.terms/index.html

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