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Making Sense of Software EULAs 277

Posted by Hemos
from the not-withstanding-the-above dept.
Brian E. writes "An informal Clearware.org poll indicates that 67% of the 66 respondants never or rarely completely read end-user license agreements (EULAs). Clearware.org aims to make sense of software by proposing guidelines for vendors to characterize end-user license agreements. Defined characteristics include terms and conditions found in existing EULAs that impact control over the user's experience, privacy and system security. The guideline extends on the idea of Creative Commons' commons deed and RDF/XML metadata formats. This simplifies EULA terms in a consumer friendly way similar to care labels on clothing, nutrition facts on food and warnings on hazardous materials."
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Making Sense of Software EULAs

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  • 67%? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:08AM (#15142677) Homepage Journal
    An informal Clearware.org poll indicates that 67% of the 66 respondants never or rarely completely read end-user license agreements

    67%? or Perhaps 66.666666667? :-)

    I'm still thinking that 33% of respondants lied if they say they always completely read the EULA.
  • by Mayhem178 (920970) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:09AM (#15142682)
    I believe it should read:

    An informal Clearware.org poll indicates that 67% of the 66 respondants never or rarely comply to end-user license agreements (EULAs).
  • Sample of 67? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mpapet (761907) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:11AM (#15142693) Homepage
    Get back to me when there's more, many more, data points.

    Based on my experience, I know of one other person who knows what an EULA is even though they never read them.

    Guidlines might be good though. The downside is an EULA may become more enforceable.
    • With such a tiny sample size, the margin of error must be huge, say, 67% +/- 33%. That could give an actual result of 100% that rarely or never read EULAs, which makes more sense.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Troll TROLLING PUBLIC LICENSE Version 2, June 1991
    Copyright (C) 1989, 1991 Free Troll's Foundation, Inc.
    59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA

    Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
    of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

    Preamble
    The licenses for most Troll's are designed to take away your freedom to share and change it. By contrast, the Troll Trolling Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free Troll's--to make sure the
  • by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:12AM (#15142704) Journal

    IANAL (hate that acronym), but as I recently understood it, EULA's are in almost all regards unenforcable as they are contracts forged under duress. I pretty much have stopped reading them.

    • by schon (31600) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:24AM (#15142779)
      Or do what I do - change them to something you do agree to. After all, a company is trying to unilaterally modify the terms of a contract after it's be executed (ie the software purchase), why shouldn't I have the right to do the same?

      I find that doing something like:

      echo "You may use this software as per your local Copyright law" >EULA.txt

      works wonders for me.

      I have no problem clicking "I Agree" after reading that.
      • Do you send a letter to the company after purchase saying "my use of this program is subject to included terms and conditions?" If not, you're not talking about the same thing.
      • by fossa (212602) <pat7NO@SPAMgmx.net> on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:36AM (#15142872) Journal

        Here here. I saw this on slashdot some time ago... but has anyone tried paying for software in cash wrapped in a EULA that might, for example, nullify any EULA contained within the software box? I know your average store clerk couldn't care less... but it would be satisfying just the same. If witnessed, could such an act carry any weight in court in the event of a suit by the software publisher against you for violating the EULA? It certainly couldn't carry any less weight than the EULA?

        I hate EULAs that look like a retail sale, and I hate non-CDs sold as if they were CDs. What happened to integrity?

        • I would say probably not, because the clerk is in no way a legal party to the contract existing between you and the software manufacturer and would logically be unable to impose legal responcibilities. IANAL, but that's about how I'd see if going down. Unless of course the software was distributed by Besy Buy etc or, quite possibly, if you bought direct from the distributer such as through Steam.
          • What contract between me and the publisher? I am just exchanging some cash for a shiny disk. The publisher doesn't come into it. :)
          • I would say probably not, because the clerk is in no way a legal party to the contract existing between you and the software manufacturer and would logically be unable to impose legal responcibilities.

            And I am in no way a legal party to the contract existing (if there is one) between the store and the software manufacturer, and would logically not be subject to any legal responsibilities imposed on the store.

            And since I also am not a party to any legal contract existing between me and the store, then I'm

            • More important, if you do not agree to the EULA (but you had to open the package and load the software to see it) then what?
              I purchased a piece of software once and teh paper EULA referred to the install EULA. When I went to install the software, it turned out that one of the required "helper apps" (DRM) would kill my other tools, I thus did not install this application and attempted to return it, only to be told that the software was opened and "no dice". I pointed out the issue and the fact that the sof
      • cat EULA.txt > /dev/null && rm -rf EULA.txt

        i never read this things, they wouldn't have any effect on me anyway, i use the computer stuff like i need to, not like some lawyers thought it would be sexy.

        everybody who raises eula's (seriously), raise their hand ...
      • by Antony T Curtis (89990) on Monday April 17, 2006 @12:40PM (#15143320) Homepage Journal
        If you have the time and the money, here is a new hobby for you....

        1. Buy lots of software at your local big-name retail outlet.
        2. In your excitement, rip open the boxes and get access to the EULA.
        3. If the EULA is on the CD, open the CD case, load the CD and get to the EULA.
        4. Disagree with it.
        5. Return the software in opened packaging, for a full refund.
        6. If your big-name retail outlet refuses then the software vendor *must* refund it,
        7. No you will not pay for shipping. You will happily throw it all in the trash can if they refund the money.
        8. If they don't want to refund, take them to small claims court.
        9. Argue that the full EULA should have been visible on the outside of the packaging in reasonable size type.
        10. If you are vision impaired, argue that the Braile EULA should be on the packaging too or that typeface should be large print.

        Remeber to keep copies of your receipts and correspondences!
        • Why waste your time for a little benifit, and minimul damage to the offending companies? Go for the gusto! Go for the Class Action Lawsuit! IANAL, so I cannot actually say if this is a potentil case for class action. However, no class action lawsuits make sense to me. So this might be a good cannadite. I guess you'd have to decide which was more evil, class action suits or software licencing.
          • Because $BIG_SOFTWARE_COMPANY will settle the class-action by giving away vouchers for more sneakwrap-ridden software.

            Individual Small Claims cases are an annoyance to $BIG_SOFTWARE_COMPANY, and if they don't show, you get an automatic judgement. Imagine a million people doing this... it adds up.
    • by Rydia (556444) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:27AM (#15142805)
      You're confusing duress and adhesion. There is nothing per se invalid about contracts of adhesion (ie, you only have one source for a certain thing). In this case I'm not even sure that it would be an adhesion contract- depending on the software, there's usually a competing product that would be (if not ideal) practicable for your purpose.

      The real question about EULAs are whether they are preempted by the doctrine of first sale. Generally they are not so long as the packaging contains a notice that there is a contract either in the supplied documentation or digitally on the medium. Courts don't expect publisher to shrink long contracts that are of reasonable length for their purpose down to the size of a box, nor is it their responsibility to have a printed copy in the store, as the publisher does not control the store.

      A system on the box akin nutritional facts is a fantastic idea- if it were done properly as a standard, it would clear up a lot of confusion regarding EULAs.
      • There is nothing per se invalid about contracts of adhesion (ie, you only have one source for a certain thing).

        No, that's not what a contract of adhesion is. In fact, for most contracts of adhesion (insurance, etc.) there are many sources for the same product or service. What it really refers to is that there is such a difference in bargaining power between the two parties of a contract that one can basically just dictate long, complex, and inequitable terms.

        Contracts of adhesion are not per se invalid, b
        • Just become something is explicitly legal in a jurisdiction doesn't mean a party can't contract out of that right. This is incredibly common, even, and shows up often in covenants not to compete and thousands of other venues. Similarly, practicability of enforcement doesn't negate any terms or conditions in a contract.

          You say that contracts of adhesion are just inequity of bargaining position, but it is very hard for a court to find a "take it or leave it" type of disparity in bargaining position when the p
      • In this case I'm not even sure that it would be an adhesion contract- depending on the software, there's usually a competing product that would be (if not ideal) practicable for your purpose.

        There is nothing binding in a EULA. They are basically something that lawyers have invented to give themselves some extra cash.

        EULAs are given to minors just the same as adults, and minors are not eligible to sign a contract. They merely have to click on the "Accept" button to install the software just like the rest o
      • You're confusing duress and adhesion. There is nothing per se invalid about contracts of adhesion (ie, you only have one source for a certain thing).

        No, he's not. EULAs are contracts forged under duress because you've already bought the software before the EULA is presented to you! You have no choice but to click the button because that's what you have to do to get the software to work, and you are already entitled to have it work because you've already bought it!

      • No -- the REAL question about the EULA is if it is a contract. I didn't sign it, I received LESS than nothing as consideration.

        I don't think so, and I'll go to court to argue that. So, copyright law AND NOTHING ELSE applies.

        End of story.

        Ratboy
    • by AhtirTano (638534) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:34AM (#15142858)
      IANAL either, but I quote one here:

      So, once again, true shrink wrap EULAs have been tested in most major jurisdictions and are valid contracts, subject to certain limitations. Terms of Service contracts, like the "EULA" found in MMOGs, are simply enforceable. There is a common perception that EULAs have not been tested in court. This is incorrect. They have been.

      Don Shelkey [okratas.com]

      • Thanks for that link. I've seen the Shelky quote in a sig but never saw the context and wondered if was just a troll. The linked page focuses a lot on the Blizzard terms of service which I would think is very different from any software program that just runs on the user's computer and does not need to log on to Blizzard's servers (i.e. most software). It seems obvious that Blizzard can cancel the service (and cancel your bill) under any terms you agree to since the service involves Blizzard actually provi

      • IANAL, but I took a business law correspondence class one semester, so I'm almost as good as one.

        I notice that Shelkey does not mention "intent" as the fourth requirement of a contract; however, intent is usually assumed in the acceptance, and you'd have to prove duress or the inability to formulate intent (incompetence, drunkenness, etc.) to use it as an escape. IMO, EULAs aren't contracts, they are licenses like the GPL and enforceable under copyright law, not contract law, and would most definitely be c
      • There is a common perception that EULAs have not been tested in court. This is incorrect. They have been.

        Yes, and that's very sad. Because there are many other very valid arguments to support the idea of them being invalid. (other then the ones mentioned by parent & sibblings)

        For starters, EULAs are such complicated documents that a normal person can not be expected to fully understand them. These legally binding contracts are created by teams of lawyers, under any other situation you wouldn't think twi
      • by hackstraw (262471) * on Monday April 17, 2006 @01:25PM (#15143617)

        EULAs are not binding legally, ethically, or practically.

        TOSes are. A business reserves the right to refuse service to anyone. I cannot expect service from McDonalds when I'm sitting there for days on end with a toy gun in my hand threatening to kill anyone in the store.

        If I don't agree with a EULA, I can and will still use the software. If I do not agree with a TOS and the service provider terminates my service, I'm SOL.

        Software is software. Maintenance contracts, updates, customer support, are a service. If I don't meet the minimum for said service, I get no service. In fact, the company is entitled to go out of business and terminate such service if they feel like it.

    • Duress is an interesting argument to make, but I haven't seen it argued seriously before. Generally the split has been between ProCD (which favors EULAs) and Klocek (which does not). But the recent Blizzard case somewhat undercut Klocek, so I'd generally say that you can rely on EULAs being enforcable. Of course, that's a general statement; whether or not a specific EULA is enforcable will depend on the details of what it says, what alternatives you have aside from agreeing to it, the circumstances under wh
  • 66 ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Phil246 (803464) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:13AM (#15142712)
    66 respondants is statistically insignificant. They might as well have said " 66 people say that the sky is falling "
    • >> 66 respondants is statistically insignificant. They might as well have said " 66 people say that the sky is falling "

      and how many stat courses did you take? 66 could be statistically significant, if one insured that each sample was i.i.d.
      Drawing confidence intervals would be trivial.
      • More importantly than picking a large sample size is picking a good sample -- quality over quantity. However, you still need enough people compared to your population. This number need not be very large, which is why sampling around 1,000 people out of 290,000,000 is statistically accurate. The real question, and I did not RTFA, is how large the population is and who is in it? Then you pick a good representative sample, using all those fancy statistics equations to figure out what size sample you need for y

        • >> However, you still need enough people compared to your population.

          not really you can assume an infinite population and you can still get enough of a sample. There is an assymptote and the population of the US is big enough that you may as well. I went and quickly computed the parametric-bootstrap estimate of the 95% confidence interval. It is .66 +- .10. Enough that you could be resonable sure that most people don't read the EULA.

          >> Then you pick a good representative sample, using all th
          • oops that was the 90% confidence interval. The 95% would be approximately .66 +- .115, just a little different.
            I assumed an infinite population size. The real interval would be slightly smaller, but I don't have enough significant digits anyway.
            and of course I assumed good data. So I don't really put that much confidence in this releases data.
    • The sky is falling.

      There's one.

    • 66 respondants is statistically insignificant.

      In statistics speak, there is significant and nonsignificant. Insignificant has no significance statistically. Its an opinion.

      Yes, I realize this is splitting hairs, but I've been corrected by statisticians and scientists when I used insignificant with respect to statistics.

      The difference is that "in" as a prefix implies human perception to mean "not", "non" as a prefix means "not".

      nonedible implies things like rocks and sewer gas these things cannot be eaten
  • Caps Lock (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kryten_nl (863119)
    PROBABLY BECAUSE READING ALL UPPERCASE LETTERS IS SO ANNOYING.

    And a little more white space didn't kill anyone (at least I'm fairely certain of it). In short, the EULA's I've seen, are designed to annoy the reader as much as possible.
    • All caps, little white space, and tiny text boxes. I've seen them with three or four lines of text visible but the EULA is just huge, at least a hundred lines.

      The best EULAs I have read are ones on web sites. The first one that pops into my mind is Sun's Java EULA. I make no claim about the contents, just the presentation -- I like it. You get to see the whole thing very easily. You are presented with the EULA before the software, unlike shrinkwrap EULAs. Contrast that to some of the shrinkwrap EULAs I've

    • Re:Caps Lock (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Caine Hill (968965)
      100% true. Just as egregious is the way that the EULA is typically displayed to you in a window 4-6 lines high, and 30-40 characters wide. Given the size of computer displays, and the ease of providing a resizeable text window, there's no reason to hard code such a small viewport onto the document. Unless the publishers of the EULA don't want people to actually read the EULA. It's akin to giving someone a written contract, but only allowing them to read the contract through a cardboard cover that has a
  • Two words: (Score:4, Funny)

    by mustafap (452510) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:22AM (#15142768) Homepage
    I agree
  • by Gunfighter (1944) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:23AM (#15142774) Homepage
    I can see them now, nice and bulleted for the undereducated, illiterate masses the US public education system is spewing forth:

    • Don't steal this software
    • We're not liable for any bad stuff caused by this software
    • We don't guarantee this software will do what we actually say it will do
    • Install this software, and it means you let us control your computer
    • Install this software, and you give up all your privacy rights
    • Assimilate to the borg controlling this software
    • Install this software, and you agree to cut down the mightest tree in the forest
    • (with a herring)
    • etc. etc.
    • Actually, bullet points are not a bad idea in contracts. An agreement that is hard to understand is hard to agree to.

      If we demand clarity in user interfaces and in coding, why not in contracts?

      I'd love to see some eye-camera studies of people reading EULAs ... Paging Jakob Nielsen [useit.com] >

      • etc. etc.
      • EULA conditions are subject to change without your notification

      From http://privacy2.msn.com/tou/en-us/default.aspx [msn.com] :

      2. HOW MICROSOFT MAY MODIFY THIS AGREEMENT

      Microsoft reserves the right to change the terms, conditions, and notices under which it offers the MSN Web Sites, including any charges associated with the use of the MSN Web Sites. You are responsible for regularly reviewing these terms, conditions and notices, and any additional terms posted on any MSN Web Site. Your continued use of the

  • The guy has a good idea, but doesn't understand what to watch for in an EULA. Things like indemnification clauses, limitation of liability, waiving of consumer law rights, requirements to arbitrate in some place favorable to the vendor, and similar clauses need to be flagged. It's worth looking at those. Even within Microsoft's products, the clauses differ considerably. Their products aimed at business tend to have considerably more reasonable terms than the consumer products.
    • I don't think he is worried about that; it is more an issue with things like: you agree to let us search your computer for cheat codes, install root kits to monitor DRM, etc. Even so, there are some states in the US which do require plain language contracts and that means all the legal limitations must be explained in plain english so a normal person can understand them.
      • The original reason why laws were written down is so that the citizens can know what is legal and illegal. That way they would presumably know the penalties for illegal activity which would serve as a deterrent to crime.

        If the laws or contracts are written in anything other than common English that any random person could reasonably understand, then there is no benefit at all to having written them at all. Lawyers exist almost solely because laws are not written in common English, but in Lawyerspeak. Som
  • The Rules (Score:5, Funny)

    by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:27AM (#15142800)
    The first rule of the EULA is "We do not talk about the EULA"
    The second rule of the EULA is "WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE EULA"
    The third rule of the EULA is "You may not read the EULA"
    The fourth and final rule of the EULA is "No matter what, everyone signs"
  • Move along (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <.ten.enilnotpo. .ta. .rehtorgw.> on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:29AM (#15142814) Journal

    From Clearware.org:
    Number of Voters: 92
    First Vote: Sunday, 02 April 2006 03:22
    Last Vote: Monday, 17 April 2006 16:24

    Move along... Nothing to see here... this has been going on for over two weeks and has only 92 votes. This sample is so unrepresentative it's not funny. When they have well over 10,000 votes and have done a statistical analysis based on age, gender, household income, etc., let me know.

    • Re:Move along (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SComps (455760)

      Domain ID:D118697403-LROR
      Domain Name:CLEARWARE.ORG
      Created On:18-Mar-2006 15:55:54 UTC
      Last Updated On:29-Mar-2006 12:06:06 UTC
      Expiration Date:18-Mar-2007 15:55:54 UTC
      Sponsoring Registrar:Tucows Inc. (R11-LROR)

      Given that the domain has only been registered a month (give or take a day) that's to be expected; but yes I agree. Move along, nothing to see.

      What there is to see--is another "org" formed to support the obvious. Come on folks? 2/3rds of people don't completely read long, confusing and officious lega

    • Re:Move along (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flynt (248848)
      It is worse than that. Your comment is perhaps a bit misguided in two ways. First, even if this poll gets 10,000 particpants, we should still not trust it to provide us with results of the population at large, or even about the population of readers of that site. The reason is that the particpants are not being chosen randomly, they are self-selecting. Therefore, the only thing we can infer from this poll is about the actual participants in it. On the other hand, depending on what effects were interest
    • Move along... Nothing to see here... this has been going on for over two weeks and has only 92 votes. This sample is so unrepresentative it's not funny. When they have well over 10,000 votes and have done a statistical analysis based on age, gender, household income, etc., let me know.

      It's true that the poll is flawed, but it's flawed because the respondants aren't chosen randomly, since the people who visit clearware.org are 1) people who are interested license agreements, and 2) more recently, the peop
  • why not... (Score:3, Funny)

    by penguin-collective (932038) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:29AM (#15142819)
    just adopt the HAZMAT signage directly for software? I mean, it seems to cover pretty much the same ground.
  • by jasen666 (88727)
    I don't think I've ever read a EULA past the first sentence. Mostly because I don't care what it says. I'll do whatever I want with the software.
  • by ettlz (639203) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:32AM (#15142840) Journal
    Eula (oi-LAH) n. Stage name for a Swiss mathematician turned gangsta rap artist.
  • Either Blizzard is lying or the Clearware "deed" is...
    (See http://www.clearware.org/index.php?option=com_con t ent&task=view&id=7&Itemid=11 [clearware.org] )

    [_] Age Limit. There is no age limit to use the software.

    Also, this would pretty much seem to make the "deed" useless:

    [_] Additional Terms. You agree to additional or modified terms or conditions.

    (Sorry for the 2post - meant to post this as a legit user.)
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:37AM (#15142877) Homepage
    The whole purposes of these EULAs is not to communicate clearly, nor to negotiate a good-faith bargain, but to manipulate consumers in putting their apparent agreement on record.

    A landlord has no interest in pointing out that the "standard lease form" he shoves at you is one of many, and that he picked the most one-sided one he could find. He is certainly not going to say "Actually clause 16 is against the law and unenforceable in this state, but I hope you don't know that because most of my tenants don't and its a minor but valued source of extra profit for me."

    Car rental companies were required to print their agreements in a certain type size so that at least it was possible to read them... if you didn't mind holding up a line of people behind you... and they responded by printing them in larger type, but using a color scheme of dark grey on white grey.

    Food companies don't list their ingredients on the label because they like the idea, but because they were dragged kicking and screaming by the Pure Food and Drug Act and its successors. And they constantly negotiate for weaselly exceptions. For example, ingredients must be listed in order of predominance, but they are allowed to say "beef and pork" as long as the food includes both beef and pork, even if there is more pork than beef...

    In what way would a clear-language EULA serve the interest of the vendor?

    If it did, in fact, serve the interest of the vendor better than the current murky EULAs, I suspect some vendors would be using them already. If, as I believe, it does not serve the interest of the vendor, then why on earth would they agree to use them unless required to by law?
  • I want to be them obsfucate. And stay that way. I want them to stay as worthless as they are right now (contract law around here is saw that in the way an EULA is handled (aka putting restriction on use after sale) it is illegal).
  • by Kjella (173770) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:38AM (#15142886) Homepage
    ...those that draw up the EULA doesn't want it to be clear, nor short. Seriously, if you knew that the other party is going to sign it anyway, wouldn't you want to put in as many catches for the customer and freedoms for yourself as you can, preferably obscured both in terms of size and language? In the worst case, you can tell the customer "that's not what it says, you're reading it wrong" and in the worst case a court will say "no, that part of the EULA is not valid". You lose nothing by trying, not having a "standard" license isn't any disadvantage because there's no major standard.

    I wish there was a "BSA General End-User License Agreement" which contained all the usual legalese, and if software wouldn't use it they'd need to "explain" why they can't use it. Then you could get some proper legal analysis of it that would be reusable on all other software using the same license. When DRM comes to enforce all the currently unenforcable restrictions, I think we will need it. As it is, I click "I Agree" and ignore with impunity because I can and because spending $1000 to have a lawyer go through a 20-page license for a $50 product where there's no room for negotiation is ridiculous.

    To me, if it acts like a sale I treat it mostly like a sale. Copyright, limitations on number of installs/users, private/commercial use, disclaimers and perhaps a few other things ok, the rest... fuck off. The toothbrush company don't get to tell me when, what, how or where to brush my teeth, what brands of toothpaste works or how to use it together with mouth water and dental floss. And I mean that even if they put "By opening this packaging, you agree to the terms and conditions. If not, you can return it for a refund" on it.
    • in the worst case a court will say "no, that part of the EULA is not valid".

      Actually, I was pleased to read a couple years back about People of the State of New York v. Network Associates [findlaw.com], where some of the language involved was considered deceptive, and the judge agreed. The Attorney General was asking for a fine of $0.50 per software copy sold with the language involved, which could be a major deterrant to putting unenforcable conditions into an EULA, but I can't find any reference to fines actually b
  • by RecycledElectrons (695206) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:39AM (#15142891)
    The problem with EULAs is not the confusing legalese, it's the content. Would you buy a car from someone who demanded that you waive all rights to sue, even if he deliberately comitted fraud? Would you also agree that he still owned the car, and that he could grant you a license to drive it as long as you never benchmarked it (looked at the speedometer?) Would you agree that he could lock the wheels or take it back at any time for any reason?

    And if you did agree to that with your boss'es money, would you expect to keep your job?

    Anyone who agrees on behalf of a corporation to a typical commerical EULA is guilty of serious crimes, especially criminal negligence.

    Andy Out!
  • by MECC (8478) *
    Just remember what the acronym stands for: End User Loses Always.

  • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:44AM (#15142923)
    All EULA's have some sort of sentence near the top reading similar to: "By purchasing this product, you agree to..."

    There's your loophole right there. The rest of you aren't actually paying for any of this crap, are you?
  • Their human readable summary [clearware.org] of the WoW EULA says the following:

    Do not use with other software or hardware.

    How exactly should I be using it then, if I'm not allowed to use it together with an operating system or even a PC (as far as I know, Blizzard isn't selling either)?

    Seriously, I don't see this coming into general use. Vendors like Claria probably want to use the legal language of their EULA to hide the fact that their products hijack user's computer. Also this isn't as elegant as the Creative Commons l
  • by pulse2600 (625694) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:49AM (#15142964)
    similar to care labels on clothing, nutrition facts on food and warnings on hazardous materials."


    This is EXACTLY what we need...I envision a big label across the Windows Vista CD: "SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: VISTA MAY CAUSE LUNG CANCER, EMPHYSEMA, AND BIRTH DEFECTS."
    • "SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: VISTA MAY CAUSE LUNG CANCER, EMPHYSEMA, AND BIRTH DEFECTS."

      Wish they had warning labels on XP.

      "Surgeon General's Warning: Your may get gastritis and sudden rage attacks due to viruses, deleted data, and other annoyances caused by this product, including but not limited to HELLO THERE! Looks like you're reading an EULA!"
  • EULAs usually restrict the user in their freedom.
    Licenses like those from CC usually grant users more freedom than they would get from the law (copyright, etc.).

    I think abbreviating the legalisch restriction descriptions give users false hope.
  • eula wiki (Score:4, Informative)

    by rjnagle (122374) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:57AM (#15143019) Homepage
    lately, I've been trying to keep track of all of the EULA's I've been agreeing to. It's overwhelming.

    This wiki
    http://www.gripewiki.com/index.php/EULA_Library [gripewiki.com]

    is trying to keep a public record of eulas (along with some analysis).

  • I paid for this. I own it. I can do what I like with it unless that breaks copyright law.

    If you want more then I want a signed document from you stating what I get out of the contract. If you want it to be a licence then I want to know:

    1. When does the license expire.
    2. How do I cancel the contract early.
    3. If you break the license, how do i get my money back

    And finally: by asking me to accept an EULA, you agree that your product is free of defects and if any are found you will either refund my money or corre

    • by Pofy (471469)
      >3. If you break the license, how do i get my money back

      Problem is, in most EULA, there is NO way for them to break the contract since they promise nothing and have no responsaibilites.
  • Ed Foster's Gripelog [gripe2ed.com] is an excellent source of information about abusive EULAs.

    Basically, EULAs are software company executives acting like 3-years-olds.

    The ultimate EULA and ultimate dream of every 3-year-old:

    1) I can do anything I like.

    2) You have no power.

    3) You will do everything I say.
  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:59AM (#15143048)
    Many download sites make you click "Accept" buttons, but if you actually try to READ the damned 15-25 pages of the EULA, you find the web site "times out" and you can't then proceed with the purchase/registration process.

    No wonder people don't read them. I don't do it online anymore.
    • but if you actually try to READ the damned 15-25 pages of the EULA, you find the web site "times out" and you can't then proceed with the purchase/registration process.

      That's because they assumme nobody will agree after reading the EULA, anyway: "Oh no they read the EULA, another lost sale :("
  • The whole point is to get the user to click on the agreement without reading or understanding it.

    I mean, get a clue. You think the EULA would be that hard to read if it wasn't intended to be?

  • by Detritus (11846) on Monday April 17, 2006 @12:04PM (#15143077) Homepage
    I get depressed every time I read an EULA. They disclaim all responsibility and warranties, basically saying that if they deliver useless crap, you will just have to smile and be grateful that they relieved you of all that excess money. You have to be a lawyer to know what parts are enforceable, what parts are questionable, and what parts are legal bullshit. It isn't a negotiated agreement between two parties, it's the strong dictating terms to the weak.
    • You have to be a lawyer to know what parts are enforceable, what parts are questionable, and what parts are legal bullshit.

      You think that lawyers came up with those evil unenforceable terms? You know, behind every sleazy corporate laywer, there is an equally sleazy, childish, control-freak of a corporate executive.

      Killing all the lawyers will just create a market for new ones. Stopping the source of the bullshit (or better yet, legislating a environment where spouting bullshit was legally actionable) would

  • Blame the Lawyers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday April 17, 2006 @12:19PM (#15143192)
    Speaking as a software engineer I can honestly say that I despise writing these things as much as most users do reading them. However, they are unfortunately very necessary in the often litigious society in which we live if for no other reason than to protect the author from frivolous litigation. Even if you give your software away for free you still have to include those clauses disclaiming liabilities for "loss of business" (on a free product no less, but some people really do have that much nerve), "merchantability", and/or "fitness for a particular purpose", and all the rest of that crap. If there were fewer asshat attorneys that sue anyone at the drop of hat then these types of verbose agreements would not be as necessary. You say "just use the GPL" but that is not always an option because of certain clauses in the GPL that limit ones ability to restrict access to trade secrets. I am not knocking the GPL, if you want to license your work under those terms then go ahead, but it is not always possible from a business standpoint. The excessive legalese in our society is an antibody to the excessive amount of litigation, in fact I have read, cannot remember the source, that the United States spends as much as 2% of GDP on lawsuits which is many times more than any other developed nation in the world. So we don't like those long EULAs either but the lawyers made us do it.
  • This is probably redundant comment but this means 1/3 of people read all the EULA's frequently. Ridiculous! The other day I signed on to chase.com site and they had not one but 2 EULA/terms of service etc barf quack, each one being at least five pages long.

    Face it, these things are a complete joke. Nobody in their right mind believes any but an extremely atypical user is going to read the whole thing, then decide they don't like it, and not proceed using the service.
  • I think this is a great idea.

    Another idea I had was to make a WikiEULA, where people (with legal experience or not) would volunteer to read and summarize the EULA's of popular [things with EULA's] and post their summary/analysis. Then others could go there and quickly get the gist of what they're agreeing to rather than each person spending hours trying to figure it out on their own, or, more likely, ignoring it. If there's something particularly objectionable, it could be discussed, people might complain

  • by DrVomact (726065) on Monday April 17, 2006 @12:27PM (#15143240) Journal
    I've been wondering about this. A lot of EULAs seem to say (as far as I can understand them) that I don't really own a copy of the software--I just have a license to use it under the terms of said license. Now, if I'm obtaining a license and not really buying anything, can such a transaction be subject to sales tax? It's like charging sales tax when I put money in a parking meter--I'm not buying the parking space, just the right to use it for a limited time.

    I'm probably completely of the mark...but if I were right, what fun it would be to challenge the right of states to collect sales tax on software because of the EULA! I bet courts would start ruling EULAs invalid right and left...

    • In most states a Sales (and corresponding Use) Tax is applied only to goods that are in tangible form. Thus software that comes on a CD is taxable and software that is downloaded is not. That being said, several states have passed laws making downloaded software subject to the Sales (Use) Tax anyway. More are considering it. Although individuals rarely volunteer to pay the Use Tax, businesses are usually required to do so by their auditors.
  • As far as I can see and as long as I have used computers be it M$ Windows or the Macintosh. I have read about 2 of the EULAs that have came with the software. I mean what is the point when you read them if they make any kind cents to the every day joe out there. Not the blood suckers. I mean when you set donw and read one of this things. Alot of what you are going to do with program one way or ther other is not even 1 take in to a count for. or 2 It's brakeing the EULA in the first place. I mean look at DVD
  • First day on the job, I was getting settled into my new office and checking out my computers. The Mac needed updates so I started the process. The EULAs came up and I was skimming the first few lines while I talked to my boss. The word "death" caught my eye so I started reading that one aloud. It said something like "use of this software may cause death". He didn't believe me until he saw it for himself.

    What could I do? I need to keep my systems up to date. So now Apple's in the clear if I die as a r
  • This simplifies EULA terms in a consumer friendly way similar to care labels on clothing, nutrition facts on food and warnings on hazardous materials.

    The only consumer-friendly shrinkwrap "license" is the one that isn't there at all. Anyone who would regard such a monsterously unethical instrument as valid deserves everything they get.

    After 30 years of propoganda and misinformation, when only 1/3rd of consumers even bother to read your so-called "license", that should serve as a fairly strong indicat

  • EULAlyzer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by antdude (79039) on Monday April 17, 2006 @01:45PM (#15143773) Homepage Journal
    There is a program called EULAlyzer [javacoolsoftware.com] that could help to understand the EULAs clearly and better.
  • EULAs are genarally abusive to the customer.
    They can usually be summed up in 3 statements:
    1. It's not our fault if something goes wrong. Don't bother suing us.
    2. If you do something we don't like we may choose, to sue you. We get to pick the jurisdiction. You'd do better to settle. Trust us on this.
    3. We get to change the rules whenever we want.

    The publisher does NOT want the customer to read or understand the EULA.

I don't have any use for bodyguards, but I do have a specific use for two highly trained certified public accountants. -- Elvis Presley

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