Can You Agree To An EULA You Never Saw?

from the probably-not dept

Slashdot points us to an interesting article about a guy involved in a legal fight with computer maker Gateway over whether or not he agreed to an arbitration clause in an end user license agreement (EULA) for his new computer. In this case, the guy claims his computer never worked properly, so he couldn't even see the on-screen license agreement that apparently included an arbitration clause, saying that he would agree to arbitrate any dispute, rather than take it to court. He then sued Gateway over problems with the machine. The case here doesn't have anything to do with whether or not that lawsuit has merit, but whether or not it could even go to court at all. Gateway contends that the guy shouldn't be able to take them to court because of the arbitration clause. But, of course, the guy claims he couldn't read the license agreement, so he certainly never agreed to it. The court found that the guy made a compelling enough case that he had not seen the license agreement, and therefore can not be forced to go to arbitration (even as some experts suggest that he actually would be better off going to arbitration, rather than through the courts). However, it also raises the question (not answered here) over what does constitute an official agreement. I've been told by lawyers that such arbitration clauses aren't even enforceable in California, but either way, with plenty of evidence that most people never read the EULAs they agree to, could they argue that the clauses don't apply as well?

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  1. identicon
    OMAC, 8 Jun 2007 @ 6:19pm

    Choice my ass...

    It's a matter of companies making EULAs so long and filled with corporate doublespeak that the average consumer can't figure out what's going on. Also, let's not forget the EULAs that come with software. You know, by opening this package you agree to the following blah blah blah. The EULA is too long to print on the outside of the box, and you can't return the software once opened...

    Just look at the EULA that Sony BMG forced down peoples throats with their Rootkit DRM. According to it, you had to delete all your Sony BMG music if you ever declared bankruptcy or if your CDs were stolen. They also limited their own liability to $5 in case that software ever caused harm to your PC.

    I would like to see EULAs limited to maybe 100 words and printed on the outside of the box, but I know that isn't going to happen.

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