Friday, December 29, 2006

email disclaimers

Andre Pang blogs about the annoyance of email disclaimers. For a while I had a .sig indicating that it was a condition of sending email to me that the sender agrees to legalistic terms in their .sig being inapplicable to me.

220 ESMTP Postfix - by sending email to this server you agree that any legalistic sig in your message does not apply to anyone who receives the message through this service.

Now I have changed my Postfix greeting to the above. Anyone who sends me mail agrees that their .sig does not apply to me. Suggestions for improvements to the above text are welcome.


Anonymous said...

That's got to be even less enforceable than a click-wrap license agreement. The person who appended the legalese in their .sig will never see the "agreement" (unless they're manually keying in SMTP commands), so they can hardly be understood to have agreed to your conditions in the first place.

John H said...

Anonymous: that's certainly true the first time you receive an email from them. However, once you have sent them an email with the sig included, then perhaps that might be different.

The main point though, surely, is satirical rather than legal: it is simply absurd to attempt to impose "terms of use" on an email you send to somebody else. Fine, have a *polite* message asking people to delete emails that have been sent to them in error, but the legalistic stuff is pointless (and IAAL, in case you were wondering; though I should add that TINLA, nevertheless...)

But as for "even less enforceable than a click-wrap licence agreement", I don't know what jurisdiction you're in, but in most jurisdictions there is no problem at all with click-wrap licences. They are valid and enforceable. Perhaps you are thinking of shrink-wrap?

etbe said...

My legalistic SMTP response should be more enforcable than a legalistic .SIG because the systems that connect to my machine will receive it BEFORE they send the message.

The .SIG messages are often impossible to enforce because they come after the message. I can't un-receive the message body if the .SIG has terms that I don't agree with - I had to receive the bofy first before I could get the .SIG.

For message content to matter as much as my SMTP protocol message it would have to be in the message header or in the message body BEFORE any message content.

The message is of course satire to a certain extent (I am certainly not going to pay a lawyer to make an issue of it).

Also it is not polite to ask people to delete messages that are sent in error. It is assumed that polite people will do so in any case, asking them to do so is an insult and is likely to provoke the exact opposite of what is desired.