“…has each one of us signed with the blood of his human nature a compact with some such spiritual power, with the demonic element within him, with that spirit of negation, of cynicism, of cold unideal utilitarian worldly-wisdom which mocks at faith and love and every high and tender impulse…?” – H.B. Cotterill
In our consideration as to whether the floodgates of informational resources owned by universities should be made available to the public, we would do well to take a moment to reflect on a few things we know to be certain regarding the policies, practices and precedence held by these corporate entities/institutions of higher learning, and in so doing, we may speculate as to the natures and purposes for which the troubling legalese found in standard scholarship application sites were intended to achieve.
Here is an example of the Faustian bargain one must enter should they desire access to certain resources to assist in their research, assuming they are willing to accept the following conditions:
“With respect to any information that you enter in the [
unnamed service tool owned by fictional university], you hereby grant [ unnamed university] a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual, unlimited, assignable, fully paid up and royalty-free license to use, copy, prepare derivative works of, improve, distribute, publish, remove, retain, add, process, analyze, use and commercialize (in any way now known or in the future discovered) any information that you provide, directly or indirectly to [ unnamed university]– via the [ unnamed service tool owned by fictional university] – without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you.
Please remember, that you are agreeing to the release of any and all information about you that is entered into the [
unnamed service tool owned by fictional university]. Therefore, any information that you do not want the [ unnamed service tool owned by fictional university] administrators to view, or that you do not want released to third parties, should not be entered into the [ unnamed service tool owned by fictional university]. To the extent that some or all of the records and/or information in the [ unnamed service tool owned by fictional university] are considered education records pursuant to [ acronym for particular policy of unnamed fictional government agency], your agreement to these terms and conditions also constitutes your consent to disclose such records to any and all third parties who purport to be offering research and/or internship opportunities through the [ unnamed service tool owned by fictional university], including program administrators, potential research advisors, and program assistants.
You hereby agree that you shall defend, indemnify and hold [
unnamed university], its officers, employees, and agents harmless from and against any and all liability, loss, expense (including attorneys’ fees), and claims for injury or damages arising out of your use of the [ unnamed service tool owned by university].
YOU AGREE THAT [
unnamed university] WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, EXEMPLARY OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, OR COSTS, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY LOST PROFITS OR REVENUES, EVEN IF [ unnamed university]HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES AND REGARDLESS OF THE LEGAL THEORY UNDER WHICH SUCH DAMAGES ARE SOUGHT. [ unnamed university]DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS AND IMPLIED, INCLUDING WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. TO THE FULLEST EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW, YOU AGREE THAT IN NO EVENT SHALL [ unnamed university]’S TOTAL LIABILITY UNDER THIS AGREEMENT EXCEED $100.”
Everything in [
brackets] was my own devising, everything else comes straight from the terms and agreements for utilizing a [ fictional research/scholarship] website. It’s easy to forget that we are just as much on the menu as the people we have been reading about, perhaps more so, given that we are, for lack of a better word, owned by a particular institution or two, as far as we know. What makes this all the more disheartening, is the sheer indifference many of us seem to possess regarding these matters which could, in fact, end up costing us dearly.