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Amazon puts Zombie Apocalypse clause into terms and conditions

Technically Incorrect: In the fine print for a games-development engine called Lumberyard, Amazon allows itself a smile. Unless it knows something we don't, of course.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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Is this what Amazon fears?

André Horta/Fotoarena/Corbis

I like to believe that Amazon thinks of everything.

Or at least tries to.

It knows what you need before you need it and dispatches it to you before you've ordered it. Well, it just feels like that.

Its lawyers, too, seem to embrace the Amazonian spirit.

On Monday, the company updated the terms of service for its new Lumberyard games development engine that's free to use and linked to Amazon Web Services.

But being Amazon, it wants to strictly delineate how this engine is to be used.

So clause 57.10 spells it out: "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."

Yes, you can't make drones with it. Amazon's already covered there and doesn't want you trampling on its territory.

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There is, however, an exception: "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."

Will the CDC have time to certify a Zombie Apocalypse? For this is surely what Amazon envisages here.

Once the biting and fluid-contamination starts, there might not be time for committees to sit and ponder. We might all be quickly heading for the blue yonder.

As the current presidential campaign is proving, the fall of organized civilization can happen very quickly and with seemingly little effort.

I prefer to believe that this was simply good humor, brought on by the tortured task of writing legal clause upon legal clause.

Still, might it be that Amazon's lawyers weren't having fun here, but that they know something we don't? Perhaps the new (and rather odd looking) legal department intern, who seemed so keen to get his teeth into everything, already had.

Amazon didn't respond to a request for comment.