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Doctorow Suggests Simple EULA Solution 158

Posted by Soulskill
from the ideas-that-would-fit-in-dept-lines dept.
Cory Doctorow, writing for the Guardian, has suggested an easy way for EULAs to become more user-friendly and less of a legal quagmire. He recommends reducing agreements for games, music, and ebooks to simply: "Don't violate copyright law." Quoting: "'Don't violate copyright law' has a lot going for it, but the best thing about it is what it signals to the purchaser, namely: 'You are not about to get screwed.' The copyright wars have produced some odd and funny outcomes, but I think the oddest was when the record industry began to campaign for more copyright education on the grounds that young people were growing up without the moral sensibility that they need to become functional members of society. ... it's not the entertainment industry's job to tell me what are and are not fair terms of sale for my downloads. If loaning an MP3 should be illegal, let them get a law passed (they're apparently good at that — the fact that they haven't managed it to date should tell you something about the reasonableness of the proposition)."
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Doctorow Suggests Simple EULA Solution

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  • Agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Friday February 27, 2009 @05:49AM (#27009653) Homepage

    There are two main problems with EULAs.

    1. You need a lawyer to interpret them correctly.

    2. They generally have over-reaching and sometimes illegal demands.

    Cory's idea would go a long way towards making these problems go away.

    • Re:Agree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by powerspike (729889) on Friday February 27, 2009 @06:13AM (#27009759)
      The other thing is, regardless if you accept the eula or not, you generally can't return software, so you "own" the software that you can't use. that's the B*t*h.

      I really do believe, if you can't read the conditions before a purchase you shouldn't have to adhere to them (even if the program/item forces you to before use).

      I can't believe eula's are even legal (at all).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CRCulver (715279)
        That reminds me of the label on the sealed box for a laptop I bought some years ago. It said something along the lines of "By opening this package, you agree to the terms of the EULA inside". This was so that you could not just install Linux and ask the company for a refund for the Windows license. Ridiculous that you're a position where you have to agree to something you can't even read yet.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Zsub (1365549)

          That is why in the Netherlands you are not legally bound by EULA's you cannot read beforehand. Also, the law takes precedence over any EULA you might have agreed to. You cannot take away privileges or grant privileges by EULA that are or are not granted to you by the law.

          • Re:Agree (Score:5, Interesting)

            by tepples (727027) <tepplesNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 27, 2009 @09:11AM (#27010589) Homepage Journal

            That is why in the Netherlands you are not legally bound by EULA's you cannot read beforehand.

            "By opening this box, you accept a contract. Its terms are posted on the World Wide Web at <http://www.example.com/eula/0019>." Would that fly?

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Joe U (443617)

              "By opening this box, you accept a contract. Its terms are posted on the World Wide Web at ." Would that fly?

              Not unless you're providing access to the web in the checkout line at the store. Also, there's nothing stopping the online EULA from being changed between the time you read the EULA, the time you buy the item and the time you open it.

              • It would still be a step up from the current scenario, though, of buy the software, open the box, put the install disc in, *THEN* see the EULA and:

                1) Agree to it and install the software, or

                2) Don't agree to it and be unable to return the software due to open box thus:
                a) causing you to be out the money without software you can use, or
                b) forcing you to agree to the EULA so you can get use out of the software t

                • by Bazer (760541)

                  I think it wouldn't be of any use in court either way. A web page is still dubious.

                  An EULA signed on paper, in two copies, before your purchase would give you timestamped evidence of the terms you agreed to. It would force the company to actually validate the terms in court and make customers think twice.

                  I think trying to set up a scheme like the one you propose AND giving it legal grounds could only add to the problem.

                  • Lots of software products already do the URL to EULA on box routine. PC games are relatively commonly inundated with that phrasing about the license terms being available on some website. Usually the games that warn you that they contain technology that interferes with gam eplay if you have any form of CD/DVD drive emulation software.
              • Not unless you're providing access to the web in the checkout line at the store.

                They do. Lately, Best Buy and Office Depot stores in Fort Wayne, Indiana, have been offering access to the Web on at least one demonstration PC in the store.

                Also, there's nothing stopping the online EULA from being changed between the time you read the EULA, the time you buy the item and the time you open it.

                Nothing stops it from being changed, but Wayback Machine [archive.org] stops the changes from going unnoticed. If a seller's standard terms of sale change during the hour that you are in the store, I don't know. I'm not a lawyer nor even formally a law student, so I wouldn't know about the case law in such a corner case.

            • IMO no, if you can't read the contract (which to me what it is) before the purchase, then it shouldn't count.
              • by tepples (727027)

                Its terms are posted on the World Wide Web at <http://www.example.com/eula/0019>.

                IMO no, if you can't read the contract (which to me what it is) before the purchase, then it shouldn't count.

                Whare are you trying to say? In this example, end users can read the contract by visiting <http://www.example.com/eula/0019> before handing the plastic to the cashier.

      • As a lawyer I think many are not for exactly your reason. But can you afford to litigate to find out?

        • But can you afford to litigate to find out?

          There is so much wrong with this.
          You have the legal right to a court appointed lawyer so the government can't convict you of a crime without at least some chance of defending yourself.
          But not in civil suits, so any company with considerable money can sue you in to oblivion without a chance of defending yourself.
          So basically it just boils down to who has enough cash to last longest.

          There's gotta be a better way.

      • Re:Agree (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dotancohen (1015143) on Friday February 27, 2009 @08:25AM (#27010345) Homepage

        I can't believe eula's are even legal (at all).

        Then you obviously don't understand the purpose of the EULA [what-is-what.com]. The EULA is not legal protection in the sense that the company will sue the end user for breach. It is for legal protection in case one makes a claim against the company that they took no measures to protect A, B, and C. In other words, it is a defensive measure, not an offensive measure. It just reads as offensive because, well, we all know what the best defense is...

        • Re:Agree (Score:5, Funny)

          by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday February 27, 2009 @09:04AM (#27010557)
          The Chewbacca Defense?
        • bnetd (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tepples (727027)

          The EULA is not legal protection in the sense that the company will sue the end user for breach.

          Citation needed [wikipedia.org].

          • I would hardly call "bnetd" typical end-user behaviour. Maybe the typical /. end user reverse engineers his software, but most end users do not.

      • by Weedlekin (836313)

        "regardless if you accept the eula or not, you generally can't return software"

        Many software companies (including MS) will refund the purchase price of stuff that's been actually been bought (i.e. there's entry on an invoice for that specific item together with how much was paid for it, or some other evidence of purchase) if it's returned within a specific time frame, usually between one and two months, depending on the company. This includes software that's been opened and installed as long as all the orig

      • by Aceticon (140883)

        I can't believe eula's are even legal (at all).

        Pretty much only in the US and then only in some states.

        In Europe EULAs are considered an attempt at changing the terms of the implicit sales contract after the sale and are thus not valid. Any attempt at trying to enforce an EULA around here would result in the plaintiff being laughed out of the court and having to pay the defendant's legal costs.

      • by Goaway (82658)

        B*t*h.

        Look, you can either swear, or not. Either one is just fine, this is the grown-up internet. But that kind of weasling where you want to swear but don't really dare to is just pathetic.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Sure you can return software. You might have to threaten to take the store to small claims court, but you will get your money back.

      • that's the B*t*h.

        Bandwidth? Birdbath? Buckteeth? Be clear, man.

        • Funny, I would have figured that this regex would only accept strings like BBBBh, tttttttth, h, and BBtth. Not sure how to pronounce most of these, though.
    • by rolfwind (528248)

      1. You need a lawyer to interpret them correctly.

      You are assuming they can be interpreted correctly. Most of law and lawyering is made up due to wrangling and disputes over interpreting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Unfortunately, for the people writing and using them, those are features.

      You see them as problems, because you are the person that the EULA is designed to hurt.
  • What's the point? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iYk6 (1425255)

    Exactly how is this different from not having a EULA at all? The whole point of a EULA is an attempt to restrict what the user can do with their software. This is like saying that L.A. can solve it's murder problems by simply having murderers not murder people any more.

    • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Informative)

      by pmontra (738736) on Friday February 27, 2009 @06:09AM (#27009747) Homepage

      EULAs tell gamers what they can and cannot do. If gamers violate the EULA, companies sue them. LA tells to people what they can and cannot do. If people break the law, LA jails them. As you know, neither the EULA or the law can prevent misconduct.

      So "Don't violate copyright law" would work as well as EULAs and the law, if all companies want is copyright protection.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        So "Don't violate copyright law" would work as well as EULAs and the law, if all companies want is copyright protection.

        I think Mr. Doctorow's point is that anything beyond copyright protection shouldn't be needed.

      • If gamers violate the EULA, companies sue them...."Don't violate copyright law" would work as well as EULAs and the law, if all companies want is copyright protection.

        They don't, of course.

        Doctorow's EULA can't go out the door as it is for one simple reason: It doesn't have a statement about liability. The cleanest EULA I can think of would say:

        1. This is copyrighted material,
        2. It is subject to copyright laws,
        3. The copyright went into effect on ______,
        4. We hold the copyright.
        5. Use it (or don't) at your own risk, because nothing that happens (or fails to happen) is our fault in any way.

        Much better, though personally I think it should include a statement like

        All copyrights on this work will expire no later than _____. Copyright status can be checked at http://_______.___/ [.]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ZombieWomble (893157)
      Actually, I think that this is the point. Reading the article, there is no argument beyond the shallow "EULAs are bad, they should be disposed of" that anyone who's been on a site like /. is probably deeply familiar with already.

      In short, move along, nothing to see here.

  • Surely any content I create with an application belongs to me, so what about all those programs and websites that claim it belongs to them in their own EULAs?

    "Don't break Copyright Law. That's our job"?

    • by tepples (727027)

      Surely any content I create with an application belongs to me, so what about all those programs and websites that claim it belongs to them in their own EULAs?

      Programs? If you create a work that is derivative of the bundled clip art, it isn't entirely "content you create". Web sites? You are submitting the work to be published on the web site, so the web site needs at least permission to do what is necessary to implement your click on "Submit".

      • by neokushan (932374)

        And when I use Photoshop to create art or upload my collection of family pictures to Facebook, who decides what happens to that content?

        • Well, you did. You already decided what happens to that content when you uploaded it to Facebook. No one forced you to upload to that site, you did so of your own volition, and that implies that you agreed to their Terms of Service. If FB's ToS has a clause saying "hey, whatever you upload belongs to us, no ifs, ands, or buts" and if you still go ahead and upload, then you've made your choice to relinquish control.

          The more difficult issue revolves around what happens when I register with, to stick with t

    • by Pofy (471469)

      >Surely any content I create with an application belongs to me,...

      It belongs to you in that the copyright to it belongs to you. Copies of the work belongs to whoever owns them. Typically you would first own them as you create the copies, but as soon as you give them away or sell them, those copies no longer belongs or is owned by you (you still retain the copyright though, it is not tied to the ownership of copies).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @06:02AM (#27009705)

    for your doctor to be named "Ow"?

  • by rampant mac (561036) on Friday February 27, 2009 @06:04AM (#27009723)

    "Don't steal music"

    It's subtle, but it gets the word out. Whether people grasp to it or not is their own business. Stop treating us all like criminals.

    • by Okind (556066)

      It's not that they're treating us as criminals -- which in itself is reason enough not to buy music and listen to radio only.
      What's worse, is that they're treating us like lawyers. Because that's what all this legalese does. Nevermind that no layperson can really understand it, or wants to.

      All these EULA's do is destroy any remnant of respect consumers may have for the record companies.

    • I like big butts and I cannot lie.

      Then I hope you can refrain from speaking the truth. It would be socially awkward, I think.

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
      In English law, theft was codified into a statutory offence in the Theft Act 1968 which defines it as:

      "A person is guilty of theft, if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it". (Section 1)

      Now, what does 'theft' have to do with EULAs?

      I get that you referring to the copying and use of unlicensed material, so i'll rephrase the question: What does 'theft' have to do with copyright infringement?

      • by tepples (727027)

        What does 'theft' have to do with copyright infringement?

        I answered that in a journal entry [slashdot.org].

        • That's odd. I don't remember including "redistribution for profit" in my statement. Let's check that again.

          I get that you referring to the copying and use of unlicensed material...

          Oh, I didn't.

          So, What does 'theft' have to do with copyright infringement?

          • That's odd. I don't remember including "redistribution for profit" in my statement.

            "Profit" is roughly synonymous with "financial gain", and 17 USC 101 [copyright.gov] provides that in the context of copyright law: "The term 'financial gain' includes receipt, or expectation of receipt, of anything of value, including the receipt of other copyrighted works." In this case, I find "expectation of receipt [...] of other copyrighted works" an apt description of the share ratio system on several private BitTorrent trackers, or even the exchange of pieces of a torrent that contains more than one work.

  • by duffel (779835) on Friday February 27, 2009 @06:05AM (#27009729)
    You're already subject to copyright law... it's the law. Having a button labelled "I will obey the law" just makes it seem optional
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Having a button labelled "I will obey the law" just makes it seem optional

      It really is optional (but I agree with your statement).

      On that same theme is the /. (american) "I am not a lawyer" statement, disconnected from the realities of this site. "Well, I did realize someone was Goatse-linking above and some other poster was called Adolph Hitroll, but this other user gave some advice and did not claim NOT to be a lawyer, so I just assumed he was."

      I realize that there could be legal ramifications for actual lawyers using their public identities where someone could have a cas

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by pintpusher (854001)

        Ah... the velvet fog...

        I guess your truncated nick is supposed to be "I cant believe its n<ot Mel Torme> (1103137)." And I was so hoping that you were. /me crawls back to listen to Frank one more time.

        • When "I cant believe its n" realized the width of his new nick he wept, for his account had suffered from truncation.

          In case you really feel like your sig says, how about listening to Mel singing about April showers [youtube.com]?
          (My nick had nothing to do with Mel Torme, but it was truncated like you suspected. I have started to listen to him though.)
          • Hey, that's pretty sweet. Thanks. He was amazing.

            and no, my sig is a line from "Teenage Dirtbag", on the other end of the spectrum ;)

  • Whoa, whoa (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Let's not get too radical here. Such an overly simple EULA would require corporate legal departments to acknowledge that the corporations are actually selling copies to customers, instead of merely licensing content. And that would surely lead to anarchy, what with customers thinking that they can use that copy for entertaining themselves, loan it to a friend or even sell it on as used. Surely the corporations are paying top bucks to their copyright lawyers for a reason!

  • 'Don't violate copyright law' has a lot going for it, but the best thing about it is what it signals to the purchaser, namely: 'You are not about to get screwed.'

    But then how will they screw us?

    Frankly, this sounds like it could be bad for the industry.

  • by clickety6 (141178) on Friday February 27, 2009 @06:21AM (#27009797)

    Surely it would be better stated as:

    "I'll respect your copyright rights as long as you respect mine"

    So, you stop extending copyrights to ridiculous lengths and stop using DRM to restrict my fair use rights, and I won't pass copies to my friends or buy bootlegs from dodgy street vendors.

  • by oheso (898435) on Friday February 27, 2009 @07:14AM (#27010025)
    They'll still need the EULA to say that you have no right to expect the software to do anything but trash your system -- not even to perform as advertised.
    • by Hoplite3 (671379) on Friday February 27, 2009 @09:08AM (#27010571)

      This sets software apart from many other industries that have "satisfaction guaranteed" with some suitable asterisk. I just bought a new backpack and it came with a lifetime guarantee. I know software can't expect to match that, but the difference between "satisfaction guaranteed" and "you agree to let us make flames shoot out your computer" is really extreme.

  • Isn't Reverse Engineering the real thing that EULAs don't protect against? In any case, people really do buy software outright, and the fact that we have EULAs is a pretty good indication that without the agreement, outright purchase is implied. So if you leave out the EULA, maybe you are implicitly giving permission to copy.
    • DMCA & Patents & Copyrights (The Three Evils of /.) take care of that. On the other hand, we have first-sale doctrine and similar.

      Still in bounds of "Obeying the Law" EULA.

      Really, businesses have tools other than EULA, which is there to mostly just scare people with legaleese.

  • Loaning an mp3 ?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by soliptic (665417) on Friday February 27, 2009 @08:25AM (#27010347) Journal

    Right. When people transfer MP3, it's definitely like "loaning". Because when someone else gets a copy of my MP3s, I don't have it and can't listen to it for the duration they have it. And when they've finished checking it out, they delete it, naturally, since a "loan" is distinct from a "gift" in that it's temporary. Riiiight.

    I'm sorry, but this is just disingenuous bullshit and really does you no favours. (You = the collective group of people trying to reform copyright.) How come every time the RIAA/MPAA/MSM/etc use the word "steal", people fall over themselves to split semantic hairs and insist that it can't be stealing because nobody is deprived of the original - and yet when it's convenient for their cause, they happily play the same linguistic tricks and talk of "loan", again implying the loaner is deprived of the original, when they're not?

    Don't get me wrong - I have some issues with excessive copyright too. That whole "it's supposed to be for the encouragement of artists to create and the advancement of culture and society as a whole, not for endless profit generation for huge multinational corps trading off the past" is entirely up my street. I think life+70 is way too long. I think the DMCA and similar laws elsewhere are a bunch of crap. I hate DRM and as such have never purchased DRM'd music. So it's not like I'm trying to be an RIAA shill here.

    But all that said, I find there is a frequent lack of honesty from the "copyright reformists", too. If it's not "loan", it's "share", another word that has warm and fuzzy implications and somewhat masks the reality of it. Let's be honest, when you put your MP3s on p2p it is nothing like sharing a toy with your little bro. You don't know the people leeching it, let alone like or respect them; you won't ever sit in the same room and share the experience of listening to it; above all, you aren't sacrificing any use of the MP3 yourself in order for them to have it - all of which are implied by warm and fuzzy words like "share".

    Be honest. What you're actually doing is distributing a complete, perfect lossless copy, despite the fact the entire central notion of copyright is restricting who is allowed to distribute complete, perfect lossless copies.

    If you honestly believe you should be allowed to do that, have the balls to stand up and actually say so and frame your argument as such. But don't come with these woolly words and metaphors of sharing (see above), home taping (not perfect copies), fair use (about excerpts, academic criticism, parody etc, none of which relate to Kazaa'ing your mp3s). It's just dishonest and undermines your entire position.

    • by pmarini (989354)
      if it's so simple, have you ever tried to obtain a replacement copy of the software media (that is, the actual setup files) in case you lose the CD ?
      heck, they will charge you for a full licence again !!

      on the other hand, on many online shops where I can buy music, whenever I try to buy a second copy of a song that I like and I want to send as a gift to a friend, the shop doesn't actually have this feature at all, and simply points me to the download section of what I have already purchased...

      I wonder
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by soliptic (665417)

        if it's so simple, have you ever tried to obtain a replacement copy of the software media (that is, the actual setup files) in case you lose the CD ?
        heck, they will charge you for a full licence again !!

        This sort of thing is definitely bullshit and really winds me up. If your original payment was for the license, that should be valid forever, and if you lose the CD, you should pay (at most) for the media and postage to replace it.

        But you're almost making my point for me here. That sort of thing is bullshit, so attack that directly. Say, "I am downloading this software 'illegally' because as per the company's EULA I have already paid not for my original media but for a (lifetime) license to the IP there

    • Minor points.

      When people transfer MP3, it's definitely like "loaning". Because when someone else gets a copy of my MP3s, I don't have it and can't listen to it for the duration they have it. And when they've finished checking it out, they delete it, naturally, since a "loan" is distinct from a "gift" in that it's temporary.

      Kind of like how the Zune works. More companies (apple) should use a similar system.

      Be honest. What you're actually doing is distributing a complete, perfect lossless copy, despite the fact the entire central notion of copyright is restricting who is allowed to distribute complete, perfect lossless copies.

      MP3 is lossy. What they're distributing are lossy copies of CD's, they just don't degrade any further. Most people do distrubute MP3's of CD rips, they don't distribute ISO's of their audio. Perfect lossy copies would be more accurate.

      Again, this is a minor point, I think that randomly distributing MP3s is on par with randomly distributing tape copies.

      • by soliptic (665417)

        MP3 is lossy. What they're distributing are lossy copies of CD's, they just don't degrade any further. Most people do distrubute MP3's of CD rips, they don't distribute ISO's of their audio. Perfect lossy copies would be more accurate.

        Yes, that's what I meant; I do know MP3s are lossy as compared to the CD, I was talking about lossless within the pirate distribution. i.e. If I send you my MP3, the file you end up with is lossless as compared to the MP3 I started with. And if you then send the MP3 to someone else, that's equally lossless -- and so on for infinite generations.

        Which is why

        I think that randomly distributing MP3s is on par with randomly distributing tape copies

        I can't entirely agree with this, personally.

    • I don't put my mp3s on Kazaa or Bittorrent or whatever the new distribution networks are. I'm not distributing perfect lossless copies. You don't have to be in favor of copyright violations to believe that the current legal environment for digital media is insane. So before you start painting the opponents of DRM as pirates, remember that there's a lot of us out there who think it makes you look like an astroturfer.

      • by soliptic (665417)

        Sorry, but are you dim? How on earth you managed to read my post and interpret that I'm claiming anybody who opposes DRM is a pirate, is rather beyond me. As for astroturfer, I'm even more baffled, do you even know what that means? Which product am I supposed to be puffing up with my abstract discussion of law and language?

        The post was aimed at those people who do in fact pirate, who do distribute perfect lossless copies, and yet hide behind exactly the same innaccurate, disengenuous language they decry

        • by argent (18001)

          You're right, and a couple of seconds after I posted that I was *also* wishing /. had an edit feature.

  • Pointless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday February 27, 2009 @09:22AM (#27010645)
    A EULA that said "Don't violate copyright law" is not a EULA at all... so why bother? I see no motivation to do this. Having no EULA would accomplish the same thing.
    • by Throtex (708974)

      And would also give the end-user no rights to the product, or at the very least would muddle the issue far more than any complex EULA would. You'd have to go to court in every case to figure out what the understanding of the parties was.

      It still perplexes me how most Slashbots, many who come from engineering and science backgrounds and should therefore be somewhat inquisitive, can't be bothered to think legal issues through in any sort of intelligent manner. Being dismissive of the whole thing accomplishe

      • Sorry, but I disagree, and for very good reasons. You are assuming FAR too much if you think I did not "think this through". I have been involved with this issue for many years, and in fact I am a Software Engineer -- and commercial software author. So obviously I have motivation to think about this topic.

        The idea that this would give the end-user no rights to the product is simply false. When someone buys a software product with no EULA, then it is government by copyright law, which does in fact bestow
  • The problem for some vendors is that their powers strictly under the law of copyright are very limited. You cannot simply by copyright limit what hardware someone installs software on. So Apple could say goodbye to its prohibition on installing OSX on only Apple hardware. MS could say goodbye to its prohibition on installing Office on any OS other than Windows.

    The reason vendors need click through EULAs is that they consititue a different contract from the contract of purchase of a copy of the software,

    • by sjames (1099)

      The counter problem is that the EULA is typically underhanded in nature. Typically, you see the substantial restrictions AFTER you have paid for it. If (as is quite common) someone else installs it for you, you will never see it and never took any action at all to agree to it.

      Generally, if you DON'T agree to the EULA, you will either just eat the cost of the useless software or be forced to spend more time and money than it's worth trying to get a refund.

      I'll bet EULAs would get a lot less onerous if they w

  • There's a reason (Score:2, Insightful)

    I think there's a reason to elaborate on every single point in the EULA. And the reason is -
    They don't want you to read it. By making the EULA 50 pages long, it makes it very easy to hide something ridiculous in it. Just look back and Sony and their rootkit. And countless others. Plus, if they decide to take you to court, they want to play on their field, by their rules. And by making rules that don't quite go together with copyright law, the jurisdiction becomes the contract law. And in that contract they

  • "Do what thou willt"
  • First off, most of the text in a EULA is some defense against liability claims, or at least letting the user know that they are disclaiming any liability. Have you heard of large companies suing each other because of defective products? Absolutely. Does it go anywhere? No, but it is very expensive.

    I don't want to get sued because a user believes their computer was destroyed by a software bug. Sure, more technically oriented folks "know" that it is difficult, if not impossible to cause physical damage t

  • Reminds me of Borland's old software license agreement [google.com] from the '80s.

    "You must treat this software just like a book...

    <snip/>

    By saying "just like a book," Borland means, for example, that this
    software may be used by any number of people, and may be freely moved
    from one computer location to another, so long as there is no
    possibility of it being used at one location while it's being used at
    another or on a computer network by more than one user at one
    location. Just like a book can't be read by two differ

  • I know he means well, but a license agreement grants rights. Copyright law does not. "Don't violate copyright law" doesn't grant you the right to use the software at all, so you need additional language that says you CAN use the software. Oh, wait, what does use mean? Can I use it on one computer or a billion? Need to specify that.

    EULAs can certainly be simplified a lot, but not to four words. You need to clearly spell out what the user IS allowed to do that goes BEYOND their rights under law.

  • This is why my motto (and fundamental rule for life) is Don't be a dick: it's simple to understand, and reasonable people can agree on what it means.

"The Street finds its own uses for technology." -- William Gibson

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