The 2010 Denver Metropolitan Regional Science & Engineering Fair is February 24 and 25. Hundreds of students, grades 6-12, will set up their projects, an amazing array of intellectual curiosity, in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. My 7th grade daughter’s middle school held their science fair last week in preparation for Metro. In a room packed with displays, it was a study of contract-signing behavior that grabbed my attention.
Standardized contracts offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis are, in legal circles, often referred to as “adhesion contracts.” There are legal theories and court cases on why adhesion contracts are unconscionable and thus unenforceable--sometimes.
It's harder to trump properly formed online user agreements than most people wish, and this case is a small example of that. Facebook users who are unhappy with Facebook's user agreement can find recourse in a variety of ways, but assuming the contract is going to fail in court is one of the least preferred methods.
So read before signing. If a contract is important, hire a lawyer to work with you. Even a take-it-or-leave-it deal gives you the choice of leaving it; if you do take it, take it knowing what is expected of you. Most likely it is more than a happy face.
Speaking of happy faces, the next time you are enjoying the spray of your morning shower in your face, consider the following photo from my daughter’s Metro project. She and a partner tested shower heads for mold and bacteria growing inside the shower head. So read your contracts and occasionally run your shower head through your dishwasher.