Still here after all these years.
Still here after all these years.
I'm not a lawyer, but I can read and I have a good idea of when I agree with something and when I disagree with something.
That said, I present here a fictional dialogue between myself and Bill Gates, written purely for the purpose of illustrating some philosophic points and definitely not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are a lawyer and you are interested in providing me with some free legal opinions, feel free to add them in the comments section.
Me: "Hey Bill!"
Billg: "A.F.! How are you, I have not seen you for a very long time! What is on your mind, my good buddy?"
Me: "Not much, not much. We've got to get together and hang out again sometime. Oh, and great product this Windows 2004, I've just bought myself a copy, and I'm installing it right now."
Billg: "That is wonderful A.F.! I hope it provides you with hours of enjoyment."
Me: "I'm sure it will! There's just one thing bothering me. I've started installing, and it's popped up this agreement thingy called an End User License Agreement. It's got some pretty bizaare stuff in there which I'm not so sure about, so I'm just calling you now to say, sorry, I can't agree with it."
Billg: "That's a bit of a bummer A.F., because that means you have to return it to the place you bought it and get a refund. I'm really going to miss that extra $250, now I can't get that Gucci gold-plated pencil I was looking at."
Me: "No, no! It's okay Bill! I just don't agree to the terms. So I'm telling you I don't agree, but I'm clicking the 'I Agree' button. "
Billg: "What? But you didn't agree!"
Me: "I'm glad to see you understand me, and also acknowledge the fact that I do not agree to the license. We are SO on the same wavelength."
Billg: "But you clicked the button!"
Me: "I moved my mouse so that a cursor was centred within a labelled rectangle, and then clicked on the left button on the mouse, but only in order to complete the installation of your product. I did not do it in order to agree to the license. I also told you I do not agree to it, and you said that you understand. If this is confusing at all, I can fax you a statement of my disagreement. Look, you're a good buddy, I'll get my flunkeys to send you a fax now."
Billg: "But if you don't agree to the license agreement, then you can't use the program!"
Me: "But I bought it. Seems to be installing just fine."
Billg: "Well no, sorry, actually no you didn't buy anything. You just licensed the software from us."
Me: "Sorry Bill, but I don't think so. I walked into a retail electronics shop and took down a container from a shelf. The container was labelled $250, plus some other labels and text I did not read (or agree to). I put the container on the counter, paid $250 and got a receipt clearly marked "sale". The clerk wrote down the sale in the same cash book that he uses for recording sales of mouse mats and novely fake-fur monitor covers. Surely any reasonable person would believe that what I experienced was a sale, and I think that the test of "reasonableness" applies here.."
Billg: "But the license clearly states that if you do not agree to the license, you must return the product to the store for a refund."
Me: "But I didn't, Bill, I didn't agree to the license, nor any part of the license, including the part of the license which tells me that if I do not agree to the license I have to return the product. I agreed to nothing, so I am under no obligation."
Billg: "But A.F. please! This is piracy! We cannot let people use this product without agreeing to the license!"
Me: "There are perfectly adequate laws governing piracy already. I will not make a copy of this software, or sell it to anyone else. I will use it solely for my own personal amusement. I will not use it as part of a public performance. I will not post it on the net for all to see. I will also not agree to a license above-and-beyond the normal copyright protections which all software receives."
Billg: "I know we've been friends for years, A.F., but if you keep this product and don't agree to my license, unfortunately I'll be forced to sue you."
Me: "I don't think you should do that, Bill. Firstly, I have no money, and secondly if you do sue me your "license" agreement will be tested in a court of law for the first time, and may fail. You personally stand to lose billions."
Billg: "I want my mommy."
The part of Bill was played in this dialogue by Arnold Schwartzenegger.
I'm still waiting for the advent of the computer science groupie.