Friends of the SEP Society
Terms of Service

Last modified: July 1, 2010

The Metaphysics Research Lab at Stanford University is the publisher of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (“SEP”) and the sponsor of the Friends of the SEP Society (“Society”). The Society offers member benefits, such as the right to download Portable Document Format versions (“PDF versions”) of SEP entries, to those who register, pay membership dues, and thereby join the Society, and to those enrolled as members of the Society by courtesy. By joining the Society or using any Society services, members agree to the Terms of Service listed below.

  1. Copyright Notice. Members agree to abide by the terms of the Copyright Notice described at:

    We recommend that our members note especially the Distribution Restrictions clause and the Fair Use clause from the Copyright Notice.

  2. Misuse and Abuse. The Society reserves the right to temporarily or permanently suspend, or cancel, the membership of anyone who abuses its services. Abuse includes, but is not limited to:
    • violation of the Copyright Policy,
    • excessively frequent PDF downloads, and
    • sharing your membership password with others.
    The Society will make a reasonable attempt to warn the account owner via email prior to permanent suspension. Furthermore, the Society reserves the right to curtail any activity that threatens our server's ability to function. Members agree not to hold the Society, the SEP, its agents or Stanford University liable for membership suspensions or cancellations. Members who misuse or abuse the Society's webpages or its services risk forfeiture of their membership dues. Alleged abuses may be reported by clicking on the following link: Abuse Report.

  3. Indemnification. Members of the Society agree to indemnify and hold the Society, the SEP, their agents and Stanford University, free from liability for any loss or damages that might be incurred from the use of its web pages and member services.

  4. PDF Availability Limitations. It is the Society's intent to ensure that a PDF version of every entry in the most recent quarterly archive of the SEP Archives is available for download through the Society member pages. However, there may be some SEP entries that can not be made available in PDF format, for reasons beyond our control. Potential members are advised to check availability before joining the Society, by following one of the links in the main menu item PDF Library (Search Titles, A-Z Title List) in the left navigation column of the Society's public web pages.

  5. PDF Standard Limitations. The PDF versions are offered to Society members without warranty as to fitness for any specific purpose. They are however compliant with the PDF 1.4 Standard, which was published in 2001. Members are assumed to have at least Acrobat Reader 5 or similar PDF viewing application for proper rendering. We strongly recommend that potential members check that their PDF viewing applications can properly render our PDF 1.4 compliant files by examining the Sample Document. Major formatting issues that affect readability (e.g., the entire text is blurred, lines overwrite each other, the pages are improperly offset) usually indicate that an out-of-date PDF viewing application is being used to render the PDF. But in cases where there is a genuine problem with our PDFs, every effort will be made to produce corrected versions for the next quarterly archive (when PDF versions of new and revised entries are generated).

  6. PDF Formatting Limitations. The PDF versions available to Society members are generated automatically from the HTML and members are advised that state-of-the-art HTML→PDF conversion programs have some minor limitations for which the Society cannot be responsible:
    • PDF versions will occasionally contain minor formatting issues, such as widowed/orphaned lines, awkward linebreaks, pages with extra whitespace, etc., but these should not affect readability.
    • The HTML language of the source documents has some limitations that force occasional formatting compromises for technical material and that make it impossible to generate PDFs that print crisply in all circumstances. For example, we must sometimes create graphics when no HTML or Unicode character entity is widely supported among web browsers; these graphics may not have a sharp visual appearance when the corresponding PDF version is viewed or printed. On rare occasions when reading a printed copy of a PDF version, a member may have to refer back to the PDF file onscreen (under increased magnification), or reference the original HTML version, to resolve certain printed characters.

  7. Service Limitations. The Society offers access to its webpages and services without any warranty, other than its pledge to make a good faith effort to keep its servers and member services running 24/7/365. Occasional server downtime, for hardware and software maintenance and upgrade, is normal and is to be expected. Although PDF versions will be unavailable for download during those periods of downtime, SEP entries are nevertheless freely accessible in HTML over the Internet and World Wide Web from four locations around the world (i.e., from the main Stanford site and its 3 mirror sites). The Society, the SEP, their agents, and Stanford University accept no responsibility or liability for loss of service during those times when our website or member services are inaccessible.

  8. Email Response Limitations. The email address for the Society will be monitored by a student employee on University business days only. The Society will make a good faith effort to respond to email messages sent to its email address within 2–4 University business days, and asks members for their patience and understanding.

  9. Voicemail Response Limitations. The voicemail system for the Society will be monitored by a student employee on University business days only. The Society will make a good faith effort to respond to messages left on its voicemail system within 3–5 University business days, and asks members for their patience and understanding. The Society cannot be responsible when crucial information (such as a call back number) left on our voicemail system is garbled, when no messaging system (voicemail, answering machine, etc.) is available at the call back number, etc.

  10. Privacy Policy. The Friends of the SEP Society acts in accordance with its Privacy Policy detailed on the following web page:

  11. Cancellation and Refund Policy. To cancel your membership in the Friends of the SEP Society before the one-year term expires, please send email to the Friends of the SEP Society. Membership dues will be refunded in exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the Society administrators. If you request a refund, please note the circumstances in your cancellation email. In case of an overpayment error (e.g., double payment) a refund or credit (in the form of an extension of the membership term) will be issued in consultation with the member.

  12. Changes to Terms of Service. Changes to these Terms of Service may be put into effect from time to time. We anticipate that such changes will be minor, i.e., will not signficantly affect or reduce member rights. Such minor changes will be posted on the Society's web page ( and the effective date posted at the top of this Terms of Service will be changed accordingly. You will be notified by email should there be any changes to this Terms of Service that significantly affect or reduce your rights or expectations. The Society incurs no obligation to contact those members with email addresses that have become non-functional.

If you have any questions about this policy, you may contact us through our website or write to us at the following address:

Friends of the SEP Society
c/o Metaphysics Research Lab
202 Cordura Hall
Stanford University
210 Panama Street
Stanford, CA 94305-4115