I missed this when it first made the rounds of the tech and legal blogs in April, but it's worth sharing still. Here's one more reason to read the fine print in consumer contracts: If you don't, you may unwittingly be entering a Faustian bargain.
This is what 7,500 GameStation customers consented to in April when they clicked "I agree" without reading:
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. We reserve the right to serve such notice in 6 (six) 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.
According to MousePrint.org, the British game seller offered an out:
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.
Amazingly, 12 percent of those who clicked on the contract terms actually said "no, thanks" to it - about 10 times as many as ordinarily seem to read the things, according to this research paper. David Hoffman, a Temple University law professor, said in the Concurring Opinions blog that the number "suggests that individuals value their souls an order of magnitude more than they do an ordinary warranty" - or at least that "some contract terms just pop off the page."
The good news? GameStation says it has no intention of collecting on the souls it acquired rights to on April Fool's Day. Much better to keep them in circulation so it can sell their possessors games such as "Demon's Souls Black Phantom Edition" or "Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver." It's a dark world out there, and who knows that better than an Internet games merchant?