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CodeX presents Escaping Contract: Varieties of User Push-Back Against Onerous Terms

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April 24, 2012 12:45pm - 2:00pm

Room 180


With Margaret Jane Radin
University of Michigan Law School

About the event: The standardized terms (often called boilerplate) that are attached in various ways to many products and services should not, in my view, be governed by the law of contract when they do not reflect the indicia of contractual ordering—consensual bargained-for exchange. So I argue in a forthcoming book, Boilerplate: The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law. As part of an exploration there of what might be done to improve these sets of terms (outside of the usual remedies provided by contract law, which I regard as largely ineffective), the chapter on which I base this talk considers the extent to which initiatives outside of governmental regulation might develop to alleviate the problem. In this chapter I set forth some basic outlines of ideas in the vein of organized user-pushback: watchdog groups, best practices initiatives, crowd-sourced user evaluations, rating agencies, technological filtering, and machine bargaining. I am hoping that the participants in CodeX will help to evaluate, flesh out, or reject ideas along these lines, and, indeed, contribute others. - Margaret Jane Radin.

Margaret Jane Radin is Henry King Ransom Professor of Law, University of Michigan, and William Benjamin Scott & Luna M. Scott Professor of Law, emerita, Stanford University. She is the author of Reinterpreting Property (University of Chicago Press 1993), Contested Commodities (Harvard University Press 1996), and Boilerplate (Princeton University Press, forthcoming 2012), and co-author of a casebook on Internet commerce. Professor Radin was formerly director of Stanford’s Program in Law, Science & Technology, and is the author of numerous articles on aspects of law in the networked digital environment. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and received the 2007 Brigham-Kanner Prize for Scholarship in Property Law. She holds a masters degree in music history and plays her flute daily.