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Amazon UK Glitch Sells Thousands of Products For a Penny

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Hmmmm ... legality? (138 comments)

It certainly seems to be true that courts in the UK have shied away from questions of whether any given level of consideration is sufficient, favouring a simple finding of whether there was any consideration or not. My intended point was more that while obvious nominal consideration explicitly written into a negotiated contract might reasonably be interpreted as a demonstration of intent to enter into a binding agreement, in this case I'm not sure how well that argument works. In other words, it's not just about whether 1p constitutes consideration, it's about whether that nominal consideration demonstrates an intent to commit to the deal. It would be interesting to hear what any actual lawyers thought about this argument, but sadly it doesn't look like we'll find out here.

yesterday
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Amazon UK Glitch Sells Thousands of Products For a Penny

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Hmmmm ... legality? (138 comments)

The way I heard it and have seen it practised in most countries is that the value of the consideration is irrelevant, just that something needs to change hands.

Indeed, but arguably the purpose of recognising nominal consideration is that such consideration is a demonstration of intent to create legal relations.

We're talking about a commercial deal here, so presumably if money actually changes hands there is a strong implication that a deal was intended even for nominal consideration. I'm just wondering whether the accidental 1p pricing case is so far from reasonable by the objective observer standard that a lawyer could argue it. (I don't know the answer to this, nor claim to; as I said, I'm not a lawyer, just someone who's come across some of the issues.)

3 days ago
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Amazon UK Glitch Sells Thousands of Products For a Penny

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Hmmmm ... legality? (138 comments)

Yes, yes, something about peppercorns.

It remains necessary for there to be a meeting of the minds for a contract to exist, and I still can't see how an objective observer would conclude that a merchant intended to sell expensive goods for consideration of 1p.

3 days ago
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Amazon UK Glitch Sells Thousands of Products For a Penny

Anonymous Brave Guy Re: How Hard is it to Price Manually? (138 comments)

This has become a significant issue for my friends and family this holiday season, to the point that in some cases we have just walked away from the Amazon ecosystem entirely and bought elsewhere.

If you can change prices so fast that a customer can't look up something we're interested in buying, call their partner in to check it before confirming the order, and then add it to a basket, and the price change can be literally doubling the price from a good deal to a complete rip-off, then the experience of shopping with you is going to suck.

Throw in the inherent risks with any on-line purchase of stuff not turning up on time or being damaged on arrival -- both things I've heard widely reported in recent weeks in the UK, including specifically in connection with Amazon in some cases -- and going back to the High Street to buy anything you can from a bricks and mortar store is quite an attractive alternative.

If only the people going to High Street shops to browse and then getting their phones out and ordering from Amazon hadn't killed off 90% of the good shops. :-(

3 days ago
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Amazon UK Glitch Sells Thousands of Products For a Penny

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Hmmmm ... legality? (138 comments)

FYI, I don't think your description of how contract law works is correct across all of the UK. For example, consideration is treated differently in Scotland.

In any case, for a transaction literally charged at 1p, one might reasonably argue both that this is not sufficient to constitute consideration and that there was no meeting of the minds given that an objective observer would obviously not expect expensive merchandise to be sold for only 1p under these conditions.

(I'm not a lawyer, but as someone who runs businesses including on-line transactions I have spent plenty of time talking about these issues with people who are. Actual lawyers are welcome to dive in and correct me.)

3 days ago
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Amazon UK Glitch Sells Thousands of Products For a Penny

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Amazon is run by Nazis (138 comments)

The GP post didn't say anything about taking your payment. Contractually speaking, that is often a more significant act than merely showing a web page or sending an e-mail acknowledging an order.

3 days ago
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Amazon UK Glitch Sells Thousands of Products For a Penny

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Amazon is run by Nazis (138 comments)

And that sometimes makes things interesting in the case of responsible retailers who don't charge your card until they are ready to ship, because you're in a kind of limbo as a customer if you've placed an order but the merchant is delayed before sending it.

As I understand it, Amazon is generally reasonable about how it handles these situations. For example, if you have placed an order but it hasn't shipped and been charged yet, you can probably change or cancel it. But you have to watch out with less scrupulous trading partners, who will happily try to eat their cake and have it by claiming your order is final yet also claiming that have no obligation to ship it until they take the payment.

3 days ago
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Amazon UK Glitch Sells Thousands of Products For a Penny

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:currency (138 comments)

While we have your attention... please explain Jaffa Cakes to us.

For those who understand, no explanation is necessary.

For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

Realise this fundamental truth, grasshopper, and you will reach enlightenment and celebrate in the glory of the smashing orangey bit.

3 days ago
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Bank Security Software EULA Allows Spying On Users

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:How crazy (135 comments)

Given the precautions I take and the checks I made at the time, including scanning the machine in question for malware using an independent, known good boot disc, that seems unlikely. It would require a firmware-level infection or a stealthy infection that could hide from multiple malware scanners, either way exhibiting no apparent symptoms before or since, to cause the clash you're suggesting.

about a week ago
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Bank Security Software EULA Allows Spying On Users

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:How crazy (135 comments)

And we're currently exploring our options for a move, due in no small part to the poor on-line banking at the current place. Sadly, it turns out that many of the alternatives are also bad one way or another, and in almost every case it takes a crazy amount of effort even to arrange a sensible discussion about possibly moving new business to a bank. Since we're talking about small businesses here, so the same people who need to deal with the banks also need to do real work that brings in revenues and pays everyone's salaries, it's a painfully slow process.

about a week ago
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Bank Security Software EULA Allows Spying On Users

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Failure in EULA (135 comments)

It means that if you use the software, you _either_ accepted the EULA _or_ you committed an act of copyright infringement.

It would be interesting to see what specialist lawyers in various jurisdictions would make of that argument.

If when you use the software you also rely on any permission granted by the EULA that you wouldn't otherwise have, this could be instant game-over if it was considered to imply that you had agreed to the EULA as a contract for that reason instead. And if you explicit agreed to the EULA to download the software in the first place, that's probably instant game-over as well. But if you were relying on the EULA only as a licence, not as a contract, and you were not doing anything that requires more than that licence, it does seem like claiming that you infringed copyright instead might be a reasonable position.

However, a more promising alternative, rather than accepting that you've done anything wrong or consented to anything dubious at all just because some dubious EULA term claimed you did, might be to consider recent changes to the legal position in some jurisdictions. Particularly in Europe, many of the usual complaints about EULAs have been considered more thoroughly in recent years, and in some cases laws have been or are being changed to clarify consumer rights in terms of software, downloaded content, and related areas.

That debate typically starts with the perennial question of whether an EULA necessarily creates any binding contract at all, and if it does, whether the terms of such a contract are fair. It looks like the direction we're heading, at least in Europe and more specifically the UK, is that EULA-as-contract can be valid as a general principle, but then those agreements are also subject to the full weight of consumer protection laws just like any other consumer contract. That means a general requirement for fairness in the terms, various more specific protections like prohibiting certain exclusions entirely, and hopefully also the power for regulators to step in preemptively where unfair terms are present, even if those terms are void anyway, so no more incorporating scary-sounding but unenforceable terms to try to divert consumers from exercising their legal rights.

about a week ago
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Bank Security Software EULA Allows Spying On Users

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:How crazy (135 comments)

Something like what you describe should be the norm, and modern operating systems should enforce strict scoping rules for different applications and data. It shouldn't even be possible for a lot of these DRM or anti-cheat systems to work, because they fundamentally rely on doing shady things that no application should ever be allowed to do by the host OS.

Sadly, no mainstream desktop OS defaults to working this way, which makes your perfectly logical response also an unrealistic one for the vast majority of users, who lack your technical skills.

about a week ago
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Bank Security Software EULA Allows Spying On Users

Anonymous Brave Guy Re: How crazy (135 comments)

That's not the right answer, the right answer is "Tell your employer to buy you a computer for work use at home."

That's an improvement, but in many cases a better answer will be "Don't work from home at all, and if your employer doesn't like it, find a better employer".

The way it's just taken for granted that a lot of staff will continue to work outside office hours is a damning indictment of employment culture in some places today. This is just like the debate over BYOD vs. employers providing a separate company phone, where it is often taken as axiomatic that everyone needs company stuff on a phone somewhere so their boss can hassle them out of hours. If you're explicitly on call, and being compensated accordingly, fair enough. Otherwise...

about a week ago
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French Publishers Prepare Lawsuit Against Adblock Plus

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:They can go bite a donkey (687 comments)

I've no problem with you taking that position. Personally I also don't bother with sites if they don't work properly with my ad/spyware blocking choices. I'm just saying that we should accept that a lot of people just don't care about these issues for whatever reason, and that some businesses are going to make more money from those people by adding the junk than they are going to lose from people like us going elsewhere.

about a week ago
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Bank Security Software EULA Allows Spying On Users

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Bank Security Guy here (135 comments)

For individuals, probably not, at least not if you're somewhere like Europe where consumer protection and data protection laws tend to be taken reasonably seriously. I'm not sure how I'd rate my chances in most US jurisdictions without real legal advice, though.

For businesses, it could be a completely different story. For example, here in the UK, there are blanket consumer protection rules that make unfair contract terms unenforceable, but those rules do not extend to business-to-business contracts. Arguing that you didn't agree to something that appears in the EULA as a business would be harder, and it's still your responsibility to comply with whatever rules applied to you before about confidentiality, data protection and the like. This could leave you with literally no safe position to take, legally speaking, once you've installed this software.

about a week ago
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Bank Security Software EULA Allows Spying On Users

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:How crazy (135 comments)

Luckily, those of us running businesses don't need to worry about this, because the regulators probably won't let banks assign liability for fraudulent use of our accounts to us if it was their own negligence or incompetence that resulted in any losses.

Oh, no, wait. That was for personal bank accounts used by private individuals. As a business, the situation is unlikely to be a happy one if anyone does compromise your accounts because of these kinds of obvious security problems and you lose money because of it.

I've actually met small business owners who refuse to use on-line banking to this day because of this one issue. Personally, my businesses treat on-line banking as a business risk, keep careful records as we do with anything, but refuse to use Rapport since it has been found to destabilise our systems.

about a week ago
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Bank Security Software EULA Allows Spying On Users

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:How crazy (135 comments)

It wasn't alarmist when Rapport compromised the integrity of the computer I use to earn my living with a bad update. Boot from recovery disk, uninstall Rapport, revert to previous known good configuration, and the problem goes away. Let Rapport back on, computer immediately fails to boot again.

I told the bank in question that the software they asked me to install wasn't working, and now every time I log in to their business banking site, and I decline to use Rapport selecting the option that says it didn't work for me, they tell me that Rapport has been tested by them. So not only do they want me to install malware, but my bank is also incompetent at security. Great, now I'm really thrilled to be trusting them with my company's money!

about a week ago
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Microsoft's New Windows Monetization Methods Could Mean 'Subscriptions'

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Counterpoint (415 comments)

In that situation, I don't necessarily care about their new product. I want to pay my X per year maintenance fee for the existing product I already have, and in return to get security and compatibility updates for as long as I need them.

If at any time what I get isn't worth the money, I have the option to stop paying and be no worse off than I was before. This is the crucial distinction between what I'd consider signing up for and a full subscription model that, for me, would be an obvious deal-breaker. One stops developing if I stop paying; the other stops working entirely.

If at any time Microsoft produce a new product that I want, I can buy that just as I would today, and in due course I'd then pay them to maintain that product properly instead of my old one.

In this case, the crucial distinction is choice. If I have Windows XP, I can choose to continue with it and receive proper maintenance updates even though Vista is out, and Microsoft get revenues to support that from my maintenance fees. If Windows 7 arrives, I can buy the upgrade from XP to 7, cancel the maintenance on XP, and then when my included-with-purchase maintenance runs out on 7 I just start paying the maintenance fees for that to keep my going while we all ignore Windows 8 and Microsoft try to make something I want more than what I already have.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft's New Windows Monetization Methods Could Mean 'Subscriptions'

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Counterpoint (415 comments)

By professionals I meant graphics professionals not non-graphics professionals that do some graphics work.

Just to be clear, I was talking about graphics professionals there: people who design things like user interface themes and web graphics as their primary role have told me they prefer some of these newer tools to working with Photoshop for the same jobs. Photoshop simply wasn't designed for that kind of precision work, and its UI is far from ideal in that context. In several cases, Fireworks was cited as a better alternative, but we know how that story ended.

For digital artists, meaning people who really are essentially painting with a computer, sure, the tools I'm talking about aren't the best choice. It's not their niche. Likewise presumably for people who really are professional photographers or in a related role and so who really do need to touch up photography to production standards. It would be fascinating to see what kind of people are really using Creative Suite/Cloud applications and for what kinds of job, but I don't see how even Adobe can have more than sample/survey level data on that, and if they do I imagine they keep it very close to their chest.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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YouTube blocking premium music videos in UK

Anonymous Brave Guy Anonymous Brave Guy writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) writes "What happens when the might of Google clashes with the might of Big Media? We're about to find out: after failing to negotiate a licensing deal with the PRS (one of the UK's collective licensing bodies for music), YouTube has simply pulled the plug, and as of 6pm Monday, premium music videos will start disappearing for visitors from the UK. From the BBC article, it seems the PRS asked for an unspecified but large increase in the royalties, and when Google worked out that they would actually be losing money on the service at that price, they firmly declined. The PRS has asked YouTube to reconsider as a "matter of urgency"."
Link to Original Source
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Virgin's demise: illustrating the problem with DRM

Anonymous Brave Guy Anonymous Brave Guy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) writes "The BBC have an interesting article up today about the demise of Virgin Digital, which has offered music on a monthly subscription system, and how this is leaving their customers in a jam because they signed up to a DRM-based subscription service. This is no doubt not a new concern to many here, but it's the second real-life example of such a service folding within a matter of weeks, and interesting that a well-regarded mainstream news source is now openly condemning DRM and vendor lock-in, and advising people to avoid such services."
Link to Original Source
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Anonymous Brave Guy Anonymous Brave Guy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) writes "The BBC reports that CD-Wow, the third largest on-line music retailer in the UK after Amazon and Play, has been found in contempt of court for selling illegally imported CDs into the UK. Describing the verdict as "CD woe", the company claimed that all they were doing was bringing CDs into the UK that had been legitimately purchased from the big media companies elsewhere, with any breach of copyright down to human error, and that "At a time when the record industry is losing vast revenue to piracy, it seems ludicrous that they can set out to destroy a section of the market that is actually making them money.""
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Anonymous Brave Guy Anonymous Brave Guy writes  |  about 8 years ago

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) writes "The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, a large-scale, government-commissioned review of the current IP framework in the UK, has today published its final report. The report itself doesn't seem to be available yet, but the government's response (which includes a summary of the Gowers recommendations) is contained in the pre-budget report, linked from the same site.

Highlights include: proposing much stronger enforcement/penalties for infringement of IP rights, possibly including a fast-track litigation process and up to 10 years in prison for on-line copyright infringement; introducing a "private copying" exception to legalise format-shifting; and a recommendation that the European Commission should not extend copyright protection in sound recordings and performers' rights any further than the existing 50 years.

The government seems to be endorsing the Gowers recommendations pretty much in their entirety, and in particular has acknowledged the recommendation on not extending copyright terms via the European back door."
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Anonymous Brave Guy Anonymous Brave Guy writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) writes "It looks like Tesco, the UK's biggest supermarket, is planning to take on software giants like Microsoft with a new range of cheap, own-brand software covering office apps, photo editing and more. Tesco's Daniel Cook said, "When it comes to software there is little choice and prices are high. Our new range of software changes this." There's no sign yet on Tesco's web site, but an October date is mentioned in the BBC article. Sounds like a good time to be buying sell options... But in which company?"

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