Contracts As a Vehicle for Irreverence

Today I saw the following tweet:

This reminded me of an experiment in London in which the terms of use of a WiFi hotspot promised free WiFi but only if “the recipient agreed to assign their first born child to us for the duration of eternity”. Six people signed up. (Go here for the Guardian’s account.) The idea is that by putting something outrageous in a contract, you get to see whether people actually read it. (This approach is a variation on the famous no-brown-M&Ms clause in Van Halen’s concert contract.)

That might have been the motivation behind the Amazon Web Services zombie clause, but I suspect that it was as much a matter of having some fun with a kind of writing that begs not to be read by anyone.

A more extreme example of that sort of irreverence is the “heist clause” contained in the notorious contract between Wu-Tang Clan and Martin Shkreli. (Go here for the Verge’s account.)

There’s no reason why, within limits, you can’t use your contracts to build your, um, brand.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.