No, I didn’t read the terms and conditions, but I ticked the box. So I agree, subject to change without notice.
When you use a service on the Internet, do you know what you can and cannot do? Do you know what rights you have? Do you know what the site’s rules are?
Can a service or site cancel your account simply because you do not know that you broke the rules?
You do not know what the new rules are because even though you may have received a notification of changes, you didn’t read them.
You are subject to change without notice
Even if you think you know the rules, you are probably basing your judgment on out-of-date information.
Or, more than likely, on guesswork, as you have never read the terms and conditions of use.
The terms and conditions that you agree to when you first register with a service on the Internet can and do change, but you rarely, if ever, take any notice of these changes.
However, by agreeing in the first instance, you have agreed to accept all future changes, even without notification.
I looked at the terms and conditions of four sites that I have used for years.
So what has changed since I agreed to each site’s conditions?
But first, one of my favorite quotes about access to important information.
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes, I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”
Douglas Adams – Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
Kindle Direct Publishing
Up first, I checked the KDP site, and here is an excerpt from its terms and conditions page.
To continue to use Kindle Direct Publishing, we need you to accept our Terms and Conditions. By clicking Agree, you confirm you have read and agree to these Terms and Conditions.
I have included an image of the URL link to the page because it was too long to post as a hyperlink, only because it bears a remarkable resemblance to Arthur Dent’s hidden notice.
If you look closely, it has the words ‘agreement token’ embedded in the link.
I assume this is a digital record of my original agreement to be subject to change without notice all those years ago.
What did KDP change?
I know that Amazon regularly updates its terms and conditions, so should I be concerned?
When I checked, I was looking for what had changed since I agreed more than ten years ago.
It was impossible to tell what had changed because there was no date record for all the changes to clauses over the years.
There was this notation at the top of the page.
Last Updated: January 13, 2023
This agreement changed on the date listed above.
See an explanation of the changes at the end of this document.
Kindle Direct Publishing Terms and Conditions
I had to scroll down a long way to the end of the document to find out what had changed.
Here’s the notation.
Recent Changes to the Agreement
On the date listed at the top of this Agreement, we updated Sections 3, 5.2.2, 5.8 and 10.1. We also updated Sections 2.3 and 5 of the Terms and Conditions for KDP Select Program. Please carefully review the revised Agreement in its entirety.
But what was the date of terms that this one updated? I have no idea, as I did not print a copy of the original or later versions of the agreement I agreed to.
So, how could I know now?
Yes, I ticked the box and agreed many years ago, but I have never been asked to agree again.
Nor does it appear that I have any option to disagree now.
Once you tick the box and agree, that’s it. You are locked into agreeing forever.
Smashwords are a little more transparent in that, at least, its link makes sense, and it is a lot shorter than KDP.
It seems to update a little less frequently too. But its terms say pretty much the same thing. We are right, and you can’t argue.
However, Smashwords does state what terms it has updated recently.
TERMS OF SERVICE
Updated June 9, 2022
Most recent update: June 9, 2022: Common sense clarifications about fraud in sections 6 and 9. Section 6: Added the following required condition for author payment, “no fraud was committed in the obtainment of reported sales or reads;” Section 9: Added, under a section pertaining to author conduct, “[The author] agrees not to engage in, participate in, or hire agents to engage in any form of activity that would defraud Smashwords, our retail partners, or any customer. Such fraudulent activities include, but are not limited to, activities such as the generation of fake sales or reads using bots, stolen credit cards, stolen accounts, or shill accounts, or any other attempts to artificially inflate a book’s earnings using illicit means. If Smashwords or our retail partners detect fraud connected to any author’s sales, the author’s account will be subject to immediate closure and earnings forfeiture.”
PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING CAREFULLY. THESE TERMS OF SERVICE, AS AMENDED FROM TIME TO TIME (“Terms”), ARE A BINDING AGREEMENT (“Agreement”) BETWEEN YOU (“End Users”, “Smashwords Store customers,” “Authors”, “Author Agents”, and “Publishers” as defined below) AND SMASHWORDS, operated by DRAFT2DIGITAL, LLC (“Smashwords”).
Understanding the Twitter rules is an art that no one breathing has yet mastered.
On top of that, with the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk, a lot of things are changing rapidly.
However, unlike many other services, Twitter provides a log page with previous versions of its Terms of Service.
But if you want to read a very long page of legalese, you can go to the current version.
It took me a little while to find the Facebook terms of service page.
While it was not ‘stuck in a disused lavatory,’ it was necessary to go out of my profile page, find the help section, and then guess that ‘Statement of Rights and Responsibilities’ meant terms of service or terms and conditions.
Date of last revision: 26 July 2022
However, there is this additional notation:
We’re updating our Terms of Service. The updates go into effect on 5 July 2023.
As you probably guessed, by agreeing in the past, you’ll be agreeing to the new version without a chance to tick a box and agree to the new terms.
I can only say that I have no idea whatsoever which legal changes I have agreed to without knowing since I originally agreed to join these four services.
In fact, like you, I guess, I lazily clicked ‘Agree’ on them all those years ago without even glancing at the legal mumbo-jumbo.
Anyway, if ever it came to a disagreement, I know who would win, so why bother?
But it’s worth knowing that when you agree to use a service on the Internet, you use it at the provider’s whim.
Its decision will always be final in any dispute or change of service.
This is why it is essential to use alternative providers where possible.
It helps to guard against any nasty surprises that may arise in the future.
Use multiple platforms to publish and promote your books where possible, so you can protect yourself from any future changes to a service that may negatively affect you or your income.
Nothing stays the same because everything is subject to change without notice.
Related Reading: Amazon KDP Select Can Change Its Rules Without Giving You Notice