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Music of Mass Destruction

From the department of curious legal precautions: Apple’s iTunes licensing agreement — which you have already agreed to if you’ve installed the latest version of the popular music software — contains a clause which prohibits anyone from using the program …

… for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture, or production of nuclear missiles or chemical or biological weapons.

So Apple has got the WMD angle covered. But say you’re interested in using iTunes to run your new nuclear reactor?

Not so fast. A separate version of the iTunes license agreement warns that:

The Apple software is not intended for use in the operation of nuclear facilities, aircraft navigation or communication systems, life support machines, or other equipment in which the failure of the Apple software could lead to death, personal injury, or severe physical or environmental damage.

It turns out that this “nuclear clause” shows up in all sorts of unlikely places, from virus scanners to desktop weather readers.

Is this language as useful as a no-parking sign in front of a broken fire hydrant? Or do software lawyers know something we don’t about what our computers are capable of?

(Hat tip: New Scientist)