Proof That (Almost) No One Reads End User License Agreements

from the sneaky,-sneaky dept

John sent this in -- though, there's no date on it, so it's not clear how recent this is (also, it's on the site of the company in question, and it doesn't appear to be published anywhere else as of yet, despite being written by well known columnist Larry Magid). Apparently in an attempt to prove that no one reads end user license agreements (EULAs), anti-spyware firm PC Pitstop buried a note in its own EULA, saying they would give $1,000 to the first person who emailed them at a certain address. It only took four months and over 3,000 downloads before someone noticed it and sent an email (and got the $1,000). While this is an amusing story, it should also serve to show that EULAs shouldn't be valid at all. They're designed specifically to scare people off from reading them. It's hard to see how they can be binding, when they're designed in a way that almost no one will ever read. It's hard to show that users were willing participants in the agreement. So far, when EULAs show up that are simple to read, they actually get attention. Meanwhile, isn't it great to know that the company that has written one of the more misleading and impossible to follow EULAs is now advising the government on privacy issues?

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  1. identicon
    Dan D, 2 Jul 2007 @ 7:01pm

    There's nothing 'soon' about it,...

    Attorneys already think they rule the world, and through default on the part of the rest of us, they, in fact, DO rule the larger part of it. EULAs and contract language in general, are just one manifestation of that uncomfortable, but symbolic fact.

    However, the proof that attorneys do not quite rule the entire world, and all that is in it, is the equally distasteful fact that there are currently, and will soon be more, lawsuits seeking remuneration for the very same things the EULAs were concocted to prevent. A waste of time and effort? Sure. But its all only attorneys' time and effort, so its important only in their own minds.

    Unless, of course, you end up in a situation where you find yourself paying one of them. One of many reasons for someone famous to have remarked 'kill all the lawyers'. But, of course, the lawyers made that illegal, also.

    All this leads to the only piece of advice a non-attorney can comfortably give to other non-attorneys: READ the EULAs, and, in the absence of evidence indicating you should do otherwise, BELIEVE what they say and accept that any consequences they state or imply will be yours to keep shall you be found to violate them.

    Of course the loophole of all loopholes to this mess is the 'shall you be found' language, above. Which is why we should encourage EVERYBODY to violate all the EULAs they can find. Even in these days of high technology, there is still safety, of a sort, in sheer numbers.

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