“Elf Yourself” and Contractual Fine Print

A cute thing going around the Internet these days is Elf Yourself, a site where you can upload a picture of your face and then see yourself doing a silly dance dressed as an elf. It's fun and silly.

When you go to the site and click the “Start the Elfamorphosis” button and choose to upload your own photo, you're first presented with this page:

Blah blah blah, yeah, whatever, click ACCEPT and move along.

If you actually glanced at the text shown before clicking ACCEPT, you'd see that you can't post porn and you have to have the right to use the picture. Sure, fine,... click and move along.

However, notice the thing that looks like an elf baton on the right side? That's actually a slider (on the real site, not in this crop from a screen capture). If you slide it, it reveals a dozen more pages of contract that you're agreeing to. Very clever how they hid so well that there's more.

Here's the first page of the dozen or so that follow, the start of the “GRANT OF RIGHTS”:

The full text of the GRANT OF RIGHTS section is only two sentences, but wow, you give them everything but your left kidney (and a skilled lawyer could probably extract that as well). The following is the full text of this section, with my having visually separated the two sentences to make it a bit more readable. I also placed a few key passages in bold.

GRANT OF RIGHTS. By submitting a photograph or any other material (including, without limitation, vocal messages, text messages, or text) (each a “Submission”), I hereby grant to OMX, Inc., its subsidiaries and affiliated companies and each of their respective licensees, successors and assigns (collectively, “OfficeMax”), the unlimited right and permission to use the Submission or any part thereof (including, without limitation, my name, screen name, instant message name, or email address) throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in any manner or venue and for any purpose whatsoever, including, without limitation, for purposes of advertising, promotion or trade in promoting and publicizing Office Max and its products and services, by means of any and all media and devices whether now known or hereafter devised, which includes, without limitation, the unlimited right and permission to post the Submission on the [reindeer.com, elf.com, pole.com, etc.] websites (collectively, the “Websites”).

OfficeMax shall have the right, in its sole discretion, to edit, composite, morph, scan, duplicate, or alter the Submission in any manner for any purpose which OfficeMax deems necessary or desirable, and I irrevocably wave any and all so-called moral rights I may have in the Submission and I agree that I shall have no right of approval, no claim to compensation, and no claim (including, without limitation, claims based upon invasion of privacy, defamation, or right of publicity) arising our of any use, blurring, alteration, editing, morphing, distortion, illusionary effect, faulty reproduction, fictionalization, or use in any composite form of my name, picture, likeness, voice, and biographical information.

The “Default Elf”

Besides the incredibly sweeping rights they claim, a few things struck me odd about this. The punctuation near the websites seems odd, and none of the websites listed (reindeer.com, elf.com, and pole.com) seem to have anything to do with OfficeMax or its parent company, affiliates, licencees, etc. I bet that the person in the legal department writing this put those in as placeholders, thinking that the engineers creating the site would replace them with the holiday-related websites that OfficMax actually sponsors (such as elfinterviews.com). So, what they have is almost certainly a mistake.... that's funny.

Note to corporate legal departments: engineers (like everyone else) hate you, but fear you, so would never so much as even think of displacing a comma on verbiage handed down from above, much less change words. (But John Place, you were a cool lawyer.... at least so long as your towel was left alone! 🙂 )

Another odd thing is that they mention things like “screen name” and “instant message name,” which so far as I can tell they never collect. It's as if they cut-n-pasted this text from a different promotion. I dunno.

The contract goes on for a lot longer, but I didn't read the rest. I still have a cold. Why on earth am I even taking the energy to write this?

All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

Maybe reading the mind numbing jargon of that agreement is the textual equivalent of watching a lava lamp. And you probably are chemically enhanced now – albeit on Nyquil!

— comment by Marcina on December 22nd, 2006 at 2:32am JST (16 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Haha Elf Yourself is wonderful! I put my dads face on it with a pic where he looks grumpy…


— comment by Porgii on November 27th, 2007 at 3:32pm JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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