More People Have Read These Personal iPhone ToS Than the Real ToS


Good Morning America recently ran a story about a mother who gave her son an iPhone — along with her own terms of service. Failure to follow them would “result in termination” of his iPhone ownership.

Actually, “ownership” isn’t to be taken too literally, as the arrangement is more of a license: “It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you.” And the license is subject to certain acceptable use requirements, such as, “Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts.” And the risk of loss sits squarely on the licensee’s shoulders: “If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.”

To read the whole contract and a clip of an interview of licensor and licensee, see To My 13-Year-Old, An iPhone Contract From Your Mom, With Love. I’m sure more people have read these personal ToS than have slogged through Apple’s version.

3 comments… add one
  • Love it! More imaginative than the terms of service I imposed on my kids for their phones, back in the days when they were younger. Actually there was just one term of service: answer when I call you, or call me right back.

  • Mark Anderson Jan 3, 2013 Link Reply

    Brian, perhaps more people would consider the Apple terms if they listened to Richard Dreyfuss reading them, as you pointed out about 18 months ago.

    Not sure this one would pass muster as a contract under English law – it could be a good 1L exercise in contract formation.

    • Brian Rogers Jan 9, 2013 Link Reply

      Mark: My contracts geekiness stopped short of analyzing all the potential issues, but I had the same feeling that it might not really be an enforceable contract. For one thing, I’m not sure the son’s promise would be supported by consideration.

      Still, the arrangement strikes me as being similar to the website ToS: “by using this site, you agree …. ”

      Another interesting issue is the fact that the son, as a 13-year-old, is legally an infant, so he could void the contract. (I doubt the phone would qualify as a “necessary.”)

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