This was posted in the ACM RISKS Forum a couple of weeks ago:
British game retailer *GameStation* has revealed that it legally owns the souls of thousands of online shoppers, thanks to a clause in the terms and conditions agreed to by online shoppers. On April Fools' Day they had added the "immortal soul clause" to the contract that you would sign before making any online purchases. It states that customers grant the company the right to claim their soul.
"By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non-transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from gamesation.co.uk or one of its duly authorised minions."
GameStation's form also points out that "we reserve the right to serve such notice in 6-foot-high letters of fire, however we can accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by such an act. If you a) do not believe you have an immortal soul, b) have already given it to another party, or c) do not wish to grant Us such a license, please click the link below to nullify this sub-clause and proceed with your transaction."
The GameStation folks apparently intended to make a very real point: No one reads the online terms and conditions of shopping, and companies are free to insert whatever language they want into the documents.
While all shoppers during the test were given a simple tick box option to opt out, very few did this, which would have also rewarded them with a 5-pound voucher. Due to the number of people who ticked the box, GameStation claims believes as many as 88 percent of people do not read the terms and conditions of a Web site before they make a purchase.
The company noted that it would not be enforcing the ownership rights, and planned to e-mail customers nullifying any claim on their soul.