Home Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! Won't Apple please think of the children?

Author's Opinion

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of iTWire.

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School kids coming to the Apple Store for an excursion? Let's roll out the lawyers first.

My daughter's year six class is to take a trip to the local Apple Store for what seems to be some kind of "introduction to programming" excursion. Probably an excuse to indoctrinate the kids into the Apple philosophy at the same time, since the school is exclusively Windows-based currently!

As part of the process, a form calling itself "Apple Store Permission Statement for Minors" arrived at chez Heath. Here is the content of the agreement we are expected to sign. No signed agreement, no attendance – you can imagine the level of pressure on parents to agree!!.

Anyway, here's the content of the agreement (fortunately, it only runs to 319 words):

"I hereby grant permission for my child to attend and participate in the program, and I agree to the following terms and conditions:

  • "I hereby release and discharge [Apple Inc} (Apple) and its directors, officers, employees, subsidiaries, affiliates, contractors and agents from and against all claims and losses of any type arising out of or related to my child's participation in the program.
  • "Apple is not responsible for any damage to or loss of personal property, and I will be solely responsible for any such loss, damage or personal injury claim arising from my child's participation in the program. I hereby provide permission and/or consent for my child to receive emergency medical care if needed.
  • "The program is for informational purposes only; Apple will have no liability to any attendee and hereby disclaims any and all warranties of any kind, express or implied.
  • "Attendees will be responsible for their own behaviour during the program and Apple reserves the right to remove any attendee from the program for any reason, in Apple's sole discretion.
  • "I hereby consent to any and all photographs, interviews or video taken of my child, and hereby grant to Apple the right to use, publish, duplicate, transmit, display or copyright my child's image, interview or video for any reasonable purpose related to the program. I shall have no right of approval, no claim to additional compensation, no right to enjoin Apple's rights hereunder or to otherwise seek injunctive relief, and no claim (including defamation or invasion of privacy) for any use, alteration, distortion or illusory effect.
  • "I have read and agree to Apple's Privacy Policy at www.apple.com/au/privacy/privacy-policy, which contains information on how Apple collects and uses my personal information. Information I provide may be accessed by entities overseas to allow Apple to provide services throughout the world.
  • "I am over 18 years or age or older and have read and agree to these terms and conditions."

My first thoughts are that the first two clauses are probably illegal – they cannot ask you to sign away rights enshrined in state or federal law. There's an argument to be made that they could steal my daughter's lunch (or worse) with impunity.

The next two are (for all intents and purposes) informational only – they don't promise to deliver anything useful, and if the kids arc up about it, they can be evicted. Broadly, I'm not too bothered about that (from a legal perspective).

However, it is the next clause that really had me upset. They wish to claim the right to photograph, interview or video my daughter and to make money — as they see fit — from the re-use of that content, with no right of objection or monetary claim from us, her parents. They even reserve the right to modify or distort her image.

My daughter has previously appeared in TV advertising — and was paid according to standard rates — and, in addition, is a rising star in a relatively obscure sport. We have visions of her being a world-class competitor in a few years – she's already a world-ranked junior. As far as I can see, Apple can use this agreement to piggy-back their promotion on her future success with no recourse from us. At all.

Of course, I understand that Apple needs to protect itself from "frivolous" lawsuits, but this agreement is quite astonishing in its breadth and impact. Currently, I plan to strike out the photography clause and replace it with "model release required" because if I don't return the form I will be very clearly in the running for what would best be described as the absolute opposite of "father of the year". But I also need to protect the interests of my family.

I would love to hear feedback in the comments below…

Of course, Apple and iTWire have always had an interesting relationship; after all, we broke the story behind Steve Jobs' number plate (or lack thereof). A story which, oddly enough, was recently confirmed by Inc. Magazine.

Apple has been contacted for comment; an update with any responses will be added as appropriate.

Update: After a chat with an Apple representative, it was agreed that this was a "one size fits all" document and there was scope to write a new one more appropriate to school trips such as the one in question. The representative reduced many of my concerns but agreed there was still room for improvement.

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