15 Jul 17 Do you read they entire EULA?
July 14, 2017 at 6:48 PM #5812
If not, how do you know what you agreed to?July 14, 2017 at 10:18 PM #5813
I guess you have to put up with whatever they want to dump on you. Most of those “agreements” are so lopsided I doubt they would really hold up in court. Well, that is if you didn’t agree to not go to court.
The very way the EULA is given to you to read tells you they want to make sure you won’t read it. Maybe in a tiny window possibly 24 characters wide, and with no provision for printing or saving the thing.
The most absurd case I ran into was, I think, Adobe with their Acrobat reader. You had to confirm you had read it before you could install the reader, but you needed the reader to view the agreement. Then, that was one big file, with a bunch of different language sections in it, and no way to find the one section that was in English.
And, you buy a software package, with the EULA on the DVD, and if you don’t agree, you are to return it to the place of purchase — but they won’t take it back because you opened the package.
This nonsense extends to many things, not just software. I bought a flashlight, and inside the package they included the agreement that I had agreed to by opening the package. That included submitting all claims to arbitration, by their chosen arbitrators, and not to participate in any class-action suit, and so on.
So, why read these things and get upset?July 15, 2017 at 9:47 AM #5814
As HotDawg relates, I think any catch-22 agreement ought to be summarily judged invalid. But if anyone wants to make a precedent court case to establish that, it’s likely going to cost money (if nothing else, court fees, not to mention lawyers’ time).
I always hope that if worse comes to worse, and I needed to go to court to defend myself against something I did against one of these agreements, I could say that the vast majority of the time it’s unreasonable to read every single word in anything to which we’re supposed to abide. For example, who has read (and understood) all the laws by which we’re suppose to abide, from international law all the way down to village ordinances and maybe even homeowners’ association bylaws? I doubt even lawyers have done that.
Honestly, there were three times I really, really regretted not reading agreements. Two were retirement management companies (just because finances are really important) and the other was the real estate contract I signed when buying my house. I haven’t regretted these because of the consequences, only due to the feeling of not having integrity. And I suppose you could say I paid somebody to make sure the real estate contract was OK, but still, it was my signatures, not Kim Paul’s, on that document.
Generally speaking, I have read the ISP agreements, and I basically just hold my nose and say I agree. That’s one of those instances where there is extremely little choice. In this day and age, do you want to forego Internet access? I don’t, and the choices for connection are extremely few, Verizon and Spectrum here. (I subscribe to FiOS, but for years I was a Time Warner Cable sub.)
Let’s take an essential, pivotal EULA, the GNU GPL v2, the license under which GNU/Linux has been published and developed. It’s yawn-inducing, and it’s one of the shorter agreements. Personally, I have written software under the MIT license, which is really only a single page.
I have written an an exposé of a software EULA, that of the ACCESS Company’s agreement if you use their Graffiti IME for Android. It also points out many of the redundancies, as some of these agreements will include language like “you may not use the product to commit illegal acts.” Well, duh…committing illegal acts is…uhhh…illegal in the first place? Yeah, I think so.
I must say, one of the best EULAs I ever read was when I subscribed to A-Z Net’s dialup service. It was maybe two pages, and to distill it down to its essentials, it was, don’t spam, don’t cause problems with other people like flood pinging them, don’t impersonate someone else, play nice. It was short, to the point, and quite reasonable.July 15, 2017 at 11:20 AM #5815
I don’t have to because Linux has no EULA 🙂
First, it helps to remember that copyright and licenses are distinct. One can exist without the other. Copyright restrictions apply automatically to anything that’s copyrightable. A EULA (license) imposes additional restrictions on top of copyright, but like all contracts it’s not automatic and requires consent from each party.
There’s been a lot of court cases about what exactly constitutes consent and what kind of contract terms are legally binding. With EULAs it really is a gray area at this time. Most people accept the company’s (lopsided) interpretation of law, because they have a powerful lawyer team, and you don’t. Still, there are organizations dedicated to helping uphold a consumer friendly interpretation of the law such as the EFF. For example the EFF helped establish that people had a right to reverse-engineer and unlock smart phones they owned.
RChandra, remember the GPL is not a EULA. It’s a distribution license. A EULA is designed to restrict software use. Even if I’m not bound by a EULA, copyright prevents me from redistributing software. The GPL *removes* copyright restrictions, so if you’re redistributing GPL software, you must agree to the terms, but not before. The GPL actually has much better enforceability than a EULA. The law doesn’t say I need a EULA to use software, but copyright prohibits redistribution so a person redistributing open-source software has either agreed to the GPL or they’ve violated copyright law. Eben Moglen said that Microsoft might have violated the GPL for such a reason during the famous IBM v SCO saga.
HotDawg, there have been some court cases about being able to read the terms before agreeing. I can’t think of them right now and have to run, but I’ll try to look them up later.
As far as inserting strange terms just to prove people don’t read them, I believe that has also happened before but again, I’ll have to look it up later.July 16, 2017 at 8:45 PM #5834
Well, Christian, it depends on which version of Linux you’re using. SUSE, Red Hat, Kali, and many others have EULAs. Ubuntu has legal terms and policies. And those are just a few examples.July 16, 2017 at 9:57 PM #5835
You’re right, Nick. The enterprise distros have added features and a separate license to cover those components. I was thinking more about the typical home user distros.
It’s a different animal because Microsoft can just cover everything with a single EULA whereas a Linux distribution is made up of parts covered by many different licenses. Often the artwork and logos will have more restrictive redistribution terms (why we ended up with Iceweasel), but those still don’t restrict use so they are not EULAs.
It’s noteworthy that one needs to browse around on the Kali and Ubuntu sites in order to read the terms. The fact that I can go straight to the download pages without seeing them would render them unenforceable under the standard set in Nguyen v. Barnes & Noble, Inc.
About the Purple Wi-fi story that started this, that too would almost certainly be unenforceable under the doctrine of unconscionability. So consumers do have some reassurance that businesses can’t insert completely outrageous terms and hold people to them.
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