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, 24 Feb 2005 @ 9:02am

    I disagree...

    Most people don't read paper contracts before
    signing them. Does this mean everything should
    be invalid because people don't read them?
    The EULA and any other agreement is valid because
    its presented to the user in advance. If the user
    fails to read it, it is HIS fault and he should
    pay the price or be bound to it in full.
    No one reads the GPL license, I've installed a dozen
    GPL or GNU products and not once read it. Does
    that mean I can start charging for the Linux source?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Jared, 24 Feb 2005 @ 9:30am

    One person does

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    PKrause, 24 Feb 2005 @ 5:45pm

    Re: I disagree...

    The truth of the matter is that EULA's are pepetuated by attorney's as yet another source of income. You can't expect the average Joe American to possess the intelligence to understand legal speak. One paragraph maybe, but to force people to read 12 pages of b.s. just because they bought a piece of software is ridiculous, don't yah think?!?.

    Soon all of us attorney's will rule world and you won't be able to open a loaf of bread without signing a disclaimer waiver. But will you read it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Joe T, 13 Feb 2006 @ 8:45am

    Re: I disagree...

    I've heard the arguement that EULAs are invalid because:

    You purchased a license to use the software when you bought the software;

    The EULA can already be read after you have purchased the software;

    The EULA states that if you do not agree with the terms of the EULA to return the software to the place you purchased it;

    Almost every store will not take back opened software due to piracy concerns.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    rich p, 3 May 2007 @ 1:27pm

    shows how bull EULA cus every person ive asked dosent have a clue what they r, i have neva read one and am always worried what im agreeing to. i think it should b made simple for normal people(not lawers and what knot). i bet you could get millions of people to sign their houses away if you altered the EULA for youtube or myspace for a week.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    R.P., 9 Jun 2007 @ 7:29am

    Does it matter? it comes down to...

    Ok You've just paid $100 for some software, You have every intention to use it, Accepting the eulas is not a option if you want to use the software. I personally, think they should do something like, "by purchasing this software you agree to...." that that way you dont have to always click that accept button. Or worse, like in open office, they make you scroll all the way down to the bottom before you can accept it.. What a pain. or perhaps, they should at least be FORCED to make 2 documents, 1 like they have now, and the other as a short and to the point, no technical talk, overview of the eula, stating basically what the eula means, what rights it gives you or whatever.. Kinda like your at a closing table for your home, And they give you 40 different pages to initial, what is said 9 times out of 10? "This is just saying that..." and "This means that.." and to finish that statement, its something short and to the point, like, "You cant sue us." "If you dont pay we have the right to take your home, car or whatever" and thats accepted by most rather than reading all the legal stuff. as said before, I also read the short and to the point ones, it only takes a second, where as with the long ones, Jees, it would have to take upwards to 30min to read that ...Stuff... And thats really getting on it too... And when your finished reading it, what good did it do? you couldn't even pronounce half the words.. (lol) much less know what they mean. It all boils down to, Do want whatever it is? if so accept it.

    Especially with software, now once you open the box, most places wont take it back, so you just blew $100 bucks and you cant do a thing with it because you wont accept their stupid eula..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Rob, 22 Jan 2012 @ 8:52am

    Anyone can press a button

    The EULA is, in my opinion, made to be cumbersome and long and difficult to fully comprehend by the layman. It is designed to NOT be read for the intention of removing your rights as an individual in exchange for something that is worthless.

    I am from Canada and I used to be so proud of our American neighbours because I believed that the American people are very active in their pursuit of freedom. I believed that if anyone would threaten their freedom or way of life, they would be up in arms immediately to quash the attempt. It is written into the 2nd Amendment of their constitution after all with the right to bear arms. A sad thing is happening though, the Americans seem to becoming Canadianized. In Canada our population is quite docile and submissive as we won’t even stand up to the continuous and unrelenting removal of our freedom by our government. Most everyone here accepts what the powers that be tells them, “You can’t beat city hall!” or “You can’t change the system.”
    Early settlers came to this continent to escape the abusive repression of the wealthy land owners in Europe. I sincerely hope that I am wrong that the Americans have changed and are allowing the very thing that brought them to this continent to remove their freedom here.

    Remember, freedom won’t be taken away in one fell swoop. It will slowly be taken away one little piece at a time, generation by generation.

    As for the EULA, at the very least there is at least one law that protects us and that is the “Age of Majority” or the “Age of License”. Anyone can press a button, and if you have children or know of children that come to visit from time to time and they have access to your computer, the EULA is not enforceable. These EULA’s are worthless and shouldn’t be used.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2014 @ 8:28am

    Re: I disagree...

    Yes, you can. But only because the GPL allows it

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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