Belfast Telegraph

Zombies rule proves reading that contract is vital

By Emily Paisley

Nobody reads the terms and conditions. That might have been what Amazon's legal department thought when it inserted an unusual provision into the lengthy terms & conditions imposed by Amazon Web Services [or AWS] and relating to the acceptable use of its new games development engine, Lumberyard.

The material provision, Section 57.10 says: "Acceptable Use; Safety-Critical Systems. Your use of the Lumberyard Materials must comply with the AWS Acceptable Use Policy. The Lumberyard Materials are not intended for use with life-critical or safety-critical systems, such as use in operation of medical equipment, automated transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, aircraft or air traffic control, nuclear facilities, manned spacecraft, or military use in connection with live combat. However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization."

Unless Amazon knows something we don't, this clause is unlikely to ever have any effect or application. So why is this clause there at all?

Perhaps this is simply tongue in cheek drafting to see if anyone ever reads through their terms & conditions. Clearly people do, and indeed should, read and consider such terms before they enter into contracts. Often, terms are only properly considered in the event of a dispute, when it may be too late to argue that certain provisions do or do not apply.

It might be that this is a far sighted strategy to try and gain an advantage in the event of a legal dispute?

Such a provision could convey that the terms are not simply a standard precedent, but have been carefully prepared and considered from the outset. It might even suggest that Amazon has a sense of humour, thereby endearing Amazon to the court?

Either way, whether deliberate or not, this is subtle and clever advertising on the part of Amazon and serves as a reminder that you should take the time to review, and understand the implication of the entirety of the terms & conditions before you enter into any contract.

Worthingtons regularly advise business clients to implement and update their Terms and Conditions, but doubt that we will be advising that a zombie apocalypse clause is strictly necessary.

Emily Paisley is a Trainee Solicitor in the Commercial Litigation Department at Worthingtons Solicitors. For advice, please visit, or telephone 028 9043 4015

Belfast Telegraph

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