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Borland Backs Down 224

Danborg writes: "Borland has backed down from its horrible Kylix/JBuilder license after all the bad press they received on Slashdot and Freshmeat. You may now all resume using Kylix and/or JBuilder. Seriously though, it's good to see a company respond to the voices of the online community, and admit it made a mistake. Good job Borland."
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Borland Backs Down

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  • On Kylix and CLX (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IgD ( 232964 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @09:38AM (#2847669)
    Now that the licensing scandal is over, maybe Borland can find time to focus their efforts on getting rid of all the bugs in Kylix/CLX. I've used them for some time and have been pretty frustrated. Checkout That's the repository where CLX (Kylix's programming language) is maintained. There haven't been updates in weeks. Nobody even bothers to submit bug reports there since they are ignored.
    • Re:On Kylix and CLX (Score:2, Informative)

      by Shadowin ( 312793 )
      If you're having problems, fix it yourself. That's what open source is about. God only knows how many 3rd party products I had to patch up myself (ReportBuilder, a spellchecker, etc).
    • Re:On Kylix and CLX (Score:4, Informative)

      by NavySpy ( 39494 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @10:29AM (#2847852) Homepage
      There haven't been updates in weeks.

      That is true, but it is very unfair to characterize it as abandoned. Mark Duncan of Borland R&D, and the main author and maintainer of CLX has been very responsive to bug reports in the Borland Newsgroups []. He may not have done much over the holidays, but Borland has done a remarkable job of keeping FreeCLX updated.

  • by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @09:39AM (#2847671) Journal
    That's the problem. Everyone has licenses like that. It's "industry standard boilerplate". Oh well, as long as we continue to pay close attention we can force some companies to be reasonable. Others [], however, are not so susceptible to pressure.
    • industry standard boilerplate? what does that mean? not trying to be offtopic .. but .. well .. what DOES that mean?
      • Basically it means that within each industry, each contract for a certain type of work looks more or less the same because they're almost always based off of a 'boilerplate' - or in more geek friendly terms :) - a template contract.,,sid9_gc i211686,00.html [] for more info as it relates to IT, and a bit of history.

      • It meens that the same licence is used between big companies with just the company and product names changed.
      • Boilerplate refers to legal language (actually any language I suppose) that is composed of stock paragraphs, phrases, etc. expressing principles that are likely to be used over and over again.
        Attorneys do not generally, in other words, sit down and write a whole new contract or license everytime a new such thing is required. They build on a template consisting of the language you can take for granted and then modify only those portions specific to the subject at hand.

        Incidentally, if you buy their excuse that the language was intended for the Enterprise edition and customers only, well, that's not so unreasonable. I'm sure individual piracy pales in comparison to the losses potentially incurred by such things at the enterprise level. Borland has always played fair with the small developer. Sure, like a lot of folks, I think Kylix 1.0 was bad enough that Kylix 2.0 should be a free upgrade; but as a rule, Borland supports the small developer well and if they are backing off the mistake so quickly, someone over there still has their head on straight.
      • Twice I've written longer replies and Netscape's crashed on me.
        Anyway : e
        The original meaning was a large block of ready typeset text, back when typesetting involved little pieces of lead.
        Real boiler plate is steel plate for making boilers (e.g. for steam turbines on ships).

        See also
      • It means that it's the kind of contract that Microsoft uses.

        As a moral justification, I find it a bit flimsy, but I guess it's nice to be told that they really didn't intend to *** without vaseline. Somewhat, anyway.
    • Everyone has licenses like that. It's "industry standard boilerplate".

      It's called that because the lawyers put you on a plate and boil you. Their computers need to be hot-wired to shock them from their keyboards when they try this stuff.

    • It means when you agree to "industry standard boilerplate", you gave the BSA full promission to invade a do an audit without a court order! As soon as I can get rid of the last of the MS software, I can put a sign on the front door stating "No software permited inside with licenses providing the BSA permission to audit". Most everyone has heard of the BSA.
      The fact you can avoid giving permission to an audit without a warrant needs promoted.
  • Lawyers... (Score:3, Informative)

    by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @09:39AM (#2847672) Homepage

    "Industry standard boilerplate"

    Also reads as "Lawyers just cut and paste and didn't actually bother working out what it was for"
    • Or - Mailroom clerk went to Office Depot and got the packaged legal form for software licensing and filled in the blanks.
    • If this were a tiny one-person business like myself, then I'd say 'fine, use the boilerplate license and don't hire a stupid lawyer'; but Borland ? They should have a resident legal expert, and I hope they do, so that this person can be severely beaten for not reading the license and pointing out these alarming tidbits of verbal threat.
    • C'mon (Score:2, Informative)

      by SPYvSPY ( 166790 )
      Any sophisticated business person would know that boilerplate makes its way into corporate contracts (esp. end user license forms) because some moron executive (possibly the company's general counsel) decreed that there are certain terms that always have to appear in every contract. Those of us in private practice know that 8 out of 10 in-house lawyers are lazy, sloppy and often hog-tied by overbearing business people suffering from omniscience fantasies.

      Your jab at "lawyers" reveals that you don't know much about how business really works.
    • by nehril ( 115874 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @10:51AM (#2847950)
      I don't buy the "industry standard boilerplate" line. what, did a lawyer one day accidentally type up the idea of invading homes to verify compliance, and accidentally spell checked it, then accidentally cut and pasted it into the license document? Perhaps a cat walked across the lawyer's keyboard and managed to bang out the "you shall have no legal recourse and waive all constitutional rights" paragraph. Perhaps they should invest in that cat-walking-on-keyboard-detection program I read about on /. a while back.

      And all the proofreaders accidentally skipped over reading it, too. Ridiculous, unless they employ cats for that too.
      • Of course, you're right that legal "boilerplate" doesn't get initially created by accident. But it's not "boilerplate" when it's initially created. It's widespread adoption of the same language in contract after contract, license after license, that gives it the status of "boilerplate." And because there are probably as many ignorant lazy lawyers who like to cut and paste somebody else's stuff, as there are ignorant lazy coders who like to cut and paste somebody else's stuff (see "cheating detection" thread this date), boilerplate often gets copied and pasted into contexts where it's completely absurd.

        But that does not mean that there is no good reason for legal boilerplate to exist. Note that not all boilerplate is obnoxious nonsense like breaking into someone's house, waiving constitutional rights, etc. Boilerplate can often be a clause that is placed in a contract to protect your rights, and a good lawyer will copy certain clauses exactly from other contracts, not out of laziness, but because courts have previously analyzed the effect of that language in judicial opinions.

        This lends some additional predictability to the contract. It's like calling a library, or re-using some functional code that you've previously tested in another project. Sure, you could come up with a fresh way to do the same thing, but how do you know it would work? Lawyers are motivated to re-use contractual language that has previously held up in court -- it's already been "debugged." Boilerplate therefore proliferates.

    • and that is the key. if you pay a lawyer to do something for you, be sure to not trust them and read everything over carefully and even pay another lawyer to look it over. Anyone that trusts a lawyer is asking to be burned and get that lawyers minimal effort coupled with the lawyers maximum fees.

      the world would be a better place if all lawyers are outlawed. (call it the great awakening when it happens!)
  • by booyah ( 28487 )
    they just posted a big ol "Ooops" and sait they were sorry for it....

    saying they backed down is announcing a victory when there was no enemy...

    ah well, slashdot!=truth in reporting

  • by Rentar ( 168939 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @09:39AM (#2847677)
    The new end user license agreement mistakenly contains language that is specific to enterprise volume customers.

    (Emphasis mine) So private customers do get the same EULA, with a different wording?

  • by NevDull ( 170554 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @09:39AM (#2847678) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand why this was presented as backing down as opposed to a mistake as to which license gets associated with which product.

    There's no reason not to believe them that this was an error and had not reflected a conscious effort to change licenses on individual instances.
    • Yeah, but if was stated more accurately, nobody could get all self-righteous about it.
    • a mistake as to which license gets associated with which product

      Borland, as a proprietary software developer, assumes you accept an EULA as a contract. A contract doesn't have room for "What I really meant to say was ...."

    • That is not even a standard enterprise agreement. While some of that language was part of it, there are still license provisos that would be most unacceptible to an enterprise.

      What if you have one copy of Borland BSA builder in your company, they still claim these rights??

      Also, they have not released new license terms. What are my rights concerning the program now?? The old license was not intended for you, but there is no new license, hence, the terms of the old license remain in effect.

      Remember, people use these tools to write code for money. Licensing is very important when it becomes a big part of your business.

      P.S. Who qualifies as an enterprise again??

    • ... a mistake as to which license gets associated with which product.

      Riiight - I was out of the room, the dog ate it, I was putting *back* the cookies, etc.

      Folks don't believe the statement 'cause its not believable. License's legal wording doesn't just get thrown together by some minor "administrative assistant" and then sent out. It's reviewed, several times, at different levels. This is the legally binding contract the company has to honor - trust me it gets read, discussed, debated. Borland knew what it was doing.

      Furthermore the line that these were items meant for their enterprise licenses is also a load of hooey. Some of those provisos are ones NOBODY sensible would sign off on, PARTICULARLY large corporations with their own lawyers reading this stuff and looking to protect the companies privacy. The only way those points would ever show up in a big contract would be as negotiating points that can be used to make Borland look reasonable on other more legitimate terms ("We dropped the X and the Y for you folks, at least let us keep the Z!")

      Frankly the "Open Letter" is an exercise in damage control and deceit.

      It was an accident all right - that it caused so much furor and now they're trying to make excuses and distance themselves. I'm sure the next few licenses they'll be treading softly but I've no doubt we've seen the goals of at least some folks within Borland. If they remember the spanking will have to be seen but I for one wouldn't commit to Borland products without a great deal of unease.

      Finally, and on the VERY off possibility this was an honest mistake then what kind of organization lets something this important "slip through"? Are they venal or profoundly badly run - gee which would I prefer my tool developer be?

  • As far as I remember it's not the first time Borland tries to impose outrageous licenses to its compiler customers. We shouldn't care because we have gcc, but still it makes one wonder why big companies can't learn from their miskates. I guess size has something to do with it.
    • Seeing that this is the 3rd time Borland has tried to slip something into the licensing and got caught, it makes me wonder how we can trust them in the future. One of these days they're going to slip something in their licensing that will be as bad or worse as this little 'foobar' was, and nobody will catch it until it is too late!
    • by Ronin Developer ( 67677 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @10:14AM (#2847807)
      No. It's the employment of lawyers with nothing better to do than to screw with a good thing.

      Who remembers the Borland license of TP5 days when the software was to be treated like a book?
      I think they called it their "No Nonsense License Agreement" or something like that. We didn't complain about that one as it was pretty fair. I heard it was crafted by the software engineers themselves. Why can't a license like that become the industry boilerplate?

      Unfortunately, the company grew and they hired laywers who had to make it virtually unreadable to anyone without a legal background. It went downhill from there. Lawyers server a purpose in a software company, like protecting it from litigation and protection of intellectual property. But, when it comes to licensing, they need to listen to the engineers and development community and license accordingly.

      A few years ago, there was a similar frackus about, I think it was the Borland C++ license. They had a "non-compete" clause there. That was promptly removed after the application of public pressure. You'd think they learn from that. Perhaps, if they're smart, they'll pass the license by their real users for review and comment before putting it in the box.

      There's still a strong push on the Borland NG to have the license reverted to one like the NNLA. Let's see what happens. Borland has a tendency to react favorably to its developer community.

      • Unfortunately, the company grew and they hired laywers who had to make it virtually unreadable to anyone without a legal background. It went downhill from there. Lawyers server a purpose in a software company, like protecting it from litigation and protection of intellectual property. But, when it comes to licensing, they need to listen to the engineers and development community and license accordingly.

        Maybe, just maybe, that NNLA was actually not-economically viable. Maybe, just maybe, they stopped not because the mean nasty lawyers made them but because they wanted to make payroll.

        Licenses are the methods by which software companies make money. Borland is a company who needs to make money. Chances are that the particular license you mentioned didn't make enough money so they changed the terms.
        • Making money by changing license agreements is a stupid way to do business, and likely to fail in the long run. When people buy things, they expect a certain set of rights and responsibilities. The NNLA completely meshed with exactly what you'd expect to be able to do with a piece of software.

          It essentially said you could stick it on as many machines as you'd like as long as only one copy would be used at a time. Making a license agreement that's at odds with what your customers would expect doesn't make you any more money up front, and loses customer goodwill in the long run. It's a stupid way to try to make money.

        • Considering the relative success of other software that was released under this and similar license agreements (AFAIK some of the DOS versions of AutoCAD bore a similar plain-English license, that is after they got rid of the damn dongles), I'd say that this bizarre licensing fiasco was more of a CYA maneuver than an attempt to squeeze for profits.
  • I think that their actions stank but I believe that they should be encouraged for having sought to rectify their mistake. I will return to the fold and continue to use their products.
    • Well, I couldn't really get away since I work as a Delphi Developer for a living. I did send them a letter though expressing my disappointment, and letting them know I was thinking about not using their products anymore.
  • Borland delivers products that are sold individually and in volume to major enterprise customers. The new end user license agreement mistakenly contains language that is specific to enterprise volume customers. This language is industry standard boilerplate for enterprise licenses, but it should not have been included in the individual product licenses. This was an error on our part and is in the process of being fixed.

    I'm really sure that was a mistake (cough, cough). As for the last part. Has anyone ever seen such language in "enterprise licenses"?

    • Uh, yes I have, unfortunately... Several of the licenses we're under put those kind of burdens on us - and most of the mainframe licenses we hold.

      I think the likelihood of a super-restrictive enterprise license is directly proportional to the amount of competition the vendor has and the cost of the software in question.

      Our Microsoft Enterprise agreement is similar in some ways, but the trade-off is a low per-seat cost and no need to deal with "activation" or any of that other phone-home crud. We get license keys that can be tracked back to us if they get out, but those keys allow us to install the products in a completely unrestricted form. We have other products that are handled that way, too.
  • Not Good Enough (Score:3, Informative)

    by wayn3 ( 147985 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @09:44AM (#2847693)
    Think about it: an independent developer would HAVE to employ a lawyer to deal with licensing schemes like Borland's Enterprise license.

    This is not industry standard boilerplate, but lazyness: they're avoid working with customers to figure out better licensing terms.
  • by snake_dad ( 311844 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @09:44AM (#2847695) Homepage Journal
    You, jerw134 [] have won eternal fame among your fellow slashdotters for this accurate prediction [] !
    • That's quite a memory you have there snake_dad.

      And if you're too bored to search for jerw134, this is the relevant thread: 29 491
  • by goul ( 41924 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @09:46AM (#2847701)
    Until we see the new license this isn't a victory.
    Is the mistake over the audit clause, waving jury trials or both?
  • The Borland approach to the onlie community has always more friendlier than of Microsoft, it has mostly a enterprise primarly concerned with the individual developer not the consumer mass market. So it isn't difficult to accept the explanation of Borland for the misunderstand.
    But this is one of the notorious examples of read the LITTLE LETTERS, before purchase!!
  • by blirp ( 147278 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @09:48AM (#2847710)
    Remember that the info on Borland's web pages is only for personal, non-commercial use. And you can only read the info on one machine. Don't believe me, see for yourself []


    • by GypC ( 7592 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @10:09AM (#2847789) Homepage Journal


      We should all contact them for written permission to view their website on a second computer.

      "I read the licensing terms for your website while browsing on my computer at work. I would like to be able to access this information at home, so please send me written permission to do so. Thank you."

    • You may download one copy of the information ("Materials") found on this Site on a single computer for your personal, non-commercial use

      You're not really serious about this post are you? The legal notice clearly points out the use of downloading material, which I would assume they mean software, images, etc, _NOT_ html. There's obviously no problem _viewing_ the site on multiple machines, but you can't build a intranet-based kylix solution (as if you'd want to, anyway).
      • Why do you think material doesn't apply to the HTML? Look at how it's defined:
        one copy of the information ("Materials")

        Materials are defined as a copy of the information, HTML is information, even the legal notice is information. Annoyingly they did not define what information is, so I have to use the general definition.
    • []

      This post is officially a circumvention device, in violation of the DMCA, since I have made easily accessible the copyrighted content to a large audience against their "copy protection", with that hyperlink.

      Now does everyone see the problem with legalese?
      • [we] can only read the info [on Borland's web pages] on one machine.

      Which machine would that be? Oh, wait, they mean one machine per person, right?

      I thought you were kidding, but by the time I'd read their astonishing copyright notice (on a web page!) I'd already made two copies of the page, on both my firewall proxy and my desktop.

      Of course, it's not a problem because I'm not breaking the intent of their copyright, right? Right?

      Well, how the hell would I know? That's exactly what it says, and making value judgements or dissembling over whether it's morally right or wrong is exactly what leads down the slippery slope of not giving a damn about copyright at all, because anything you do is liable to be technically contrary to someone's terms. Technically playing a CD when seven or more people can hear it is illegal (in the UK), for example. Even if six of them are walking past your open window...

      I despair, I really do. Yet another company that assumes we're all thieves and need to have the difference between right and wrong spelled out to us, accompanied by a stern wagging finger. Oh, it's too much.

  • Borland Backs Down. Maybe. Some loser clerk felt like saving some time and generated one EULA instead of two and nobody bothered to change anything until they got called on it? More likely. Thats what I love about Capitolism. It's all about seeing exactly how much you can get away with, and for how long.
  • by Howie ( 4244 ) < minus berry> on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @09:49AM (#2847715) Homepage Journal
    It doesn't mention which bits they are intending to change... I wonder if the 'not produce competing products' part is included?

    Currently, you couldn't legally use C++ Builder or Delphi/Kylix to write a database engine or an IDE, as I understand it...
  • by Xenopax ( 238094 ) <> on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @09:49AM (#2847717) Journal
    Microsoft decided that they were getting to much bad press from slashdot and now instead of stealing money, crushing companies, and controlling the government they are petting bunnies, saving orphans, and planting tree.

    Also, the US gov't, in a move to improve their image on slashdot, decided to revoke all copyright law, examine patents more closely, and actually read the constitution.
  • "Borland has backed down from it's..." []

    Note that the word "its" versus "it's" is a special case.

    It's = it is

    Its = possessive version of "it"

    • According to that cartoon you're wrong, and the poster is correct:

      The cat's feet are out of the bag.
      Also correct."

      So - if you wanted to make a fool out of yourself in public, you succeeded admirably.

      If you wanted to tell people not to use an apostrophe in possessive, then you posted a wrong link.

      Maybe you should read the links you post next time :-)
  • If I were an enterprise volume customer, I would consider the terms of that licesnes to be onerous. Those terms are just wrong no matter who you are. A software license forcing you to submit to binding arbitration and random audits?! What a ridiculous thing. Next thing you know, cleaning product manufacturers will be coming with detailed sets of instructions and licenses requiring you to pay to have someone look over your shoulder to make sure you follow them whenever they like.

    • Enterprise customers usually have their lawyers negotigate with the suppliers lawyers, and work out a contract which is mutally acceptable. That's usually meaning striking out certain clauses, and modifing others. The upshot is that the original contract is horrible, with everything they could possible ask for thrown in.
  • Cookup or Malice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ThePilgrim ( 456341 )
    Several ppl have posted comments that Borland placed this licence deliberatly, in order to test the water.

    I would like to remind them of this:-

    Never attribute to Malice what can be attributed to Incompitence

  • by f00zbll ( 526151 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @10:00AM (#2847761)
    Having worked a few lawyers in the past for things like press releases, terms of service and other related legal bs, I'm guessing laziness. There are plenty of good lawyers, but often things like writing boilerplate stuff is cut/paste jobs. In a lawyer's mind (the ones I've met), it was the very last thing on their list of priorities.

    Typically, it is up to the staff to catch those mistakes and argue with the staff lawyer to make sure it applies to situation. That rarely happens for a lot of reasons. Often I would get press releases for 5a.m. the next morning at 7a.m. the day of.

    How in the world are developers, staff writers supposed to read it thoroughly? They can't. The mentality of the lawyers I've met is "be more restrictive" and ease up if people complain vs "be less restrictive." It's good the community spoke up and complained. That's part of the natural process. If all licenses were not restrictive, how would lawyers make a living or warrant their services :)

    • You're probably right. But I'm still going to be quite wary of Borland products for several years now. And by then it may just turn out that I don't need them.

      Borland has been a good company. But I don't need a backstabber as a friend, even if he doesn't intend to stab me.

      Perhaps it's possible to put a more favorable light on this, but to me that "boiler plate" looks like agreeing to be raped. Not the kind of thing one would do if there were any decent alternatives. Whether you were a large corporation or not. Of course, considering the way the my management tends to look at licenses, I suspect that they don't believe that it could ever happen to them. So they just ignore terms like that. Smart.

      For decisions that I make, this will be a consideration. If I don't like the enterprise license terms, then I won't reccomend the product.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just because they've noticed some "mistaken language" in their license agreement doesn't mean it's going to be much different when it's "fixed." People don't just pull legally binding statements out of thin air, they're very carefully plotted and worded before any user has to see them. If anything, this will probably just ensure that the new license is more convoluted and difficult for an average user to read, now that they know there are users reading them.
  • Good and Bad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by opkool ( 231966 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @10:05AM (#2847775) Homepage
    It is A Good Ting (tm) that Borland actualy changed the license.

    It makes them seem to care for their customer base (like me, a customer that bought Kylix), when they (we) politely cry "You Morons! what kind of terms are those? And next, you'll ask for my first born, right?" in their face -actualy, the letter that I sent was more polite. And had no 'F' words on it-.

    But it is also A Bad Thing (tm).

    Yes, they published a license that was way over the top. Specialy, when everyone and their mother seems to be asking for a much limited set of private personal freedom and right (for our own protection, of course). And, of course, a good corporation must mimmic the government. So, let's throw some lawyers to the License Dept. and make them review the licensing terms, so we can count on unexpected revenues if nobody discovers what we have done.

    Let's face it. Borland is just YAC (Yet Another Corporation). Their goal is to make money. No matter what.

    Or so I see it.

    How do you see it?
  • by uradu ( 10768 )
    Borland is--and has been for quite a while--a very well-balanced company: R&D is a motley crew of rebels and visionaries, while Marketing and PR are chosen from the Dark Side. Of course, Anders turned out to be Darth, but that's another story.

  • As far as I am concerned, it doesn't matter. Last time I checked (I asked a guy that's done a contract law paper at the local university), any conditions like the ones in question in the Borland license (or any other) must be 'clearly stated' in the course of agreeing with the license. One of the laws here in New Zealand.

    It would be simplicity to argue that clicking this little checkbox here and then that next button there while displaying the EULA in a text area does not "clearly state" the significant clauses, and could most likely sue them back for it.

    I have no idea what the laws regarding this in other countries are.

    Also, seeing that it 'boilerplate standard' in Enterprise licenses, it should be in the bulk license purchase agreement, not in the EULA in my opinion, because it applies to the purchase, and the company/enterprise as a whole, not the individual user(s).

  • by ankit ( 70020 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @10:12AM (#2847801) Homepage Journal
    You may now all resume using Kylix and/or JBuilder.

    WOW... now i can start wearing my kylix/borland t-shirt again... I really liked it ;)
  • by DonJefe68 ( 533739 ) <donjefe68 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @10:19AM (#2847819)
    I dunno - basically, this looks like an "Oops, you caught me" more than anything else. Accepting their explanation at face value makes me wonder how many times any developer at a large site has submitted themselves to these terms.

    I think it would be wise (and maybe someone has done this) to have EULAs from all sorts of companies examined closely by laywers (not IANALs, real Juris Doctor lawyers). I think we need to see the revised non-enterprise license from Borland. For those of us who bring in personal laptops to the office, how does an enterprise license apply to us? How about telecommuters? Is there some sort of paper wall between the portion of my home PC that dials into work and allows me to work from home, and the rest of my home PC with its ripped MP3s, software "borrowed" from friends and collections of pr0n? How about the USB harddrive that holds MP3s that I take to work to listen to tunes while I work? Does that become "infected" by the enterprise license?

    There are enough EULA's to choke a horse out there, and a lot of people (me included) have a tendency to buzz right by them on the way to an install. Add to that the variety of source licences and other varied licenses that we submit to and use, it makes for a nice legal morass that a lot of folks do not really comprehend until they get called on it, when it is too late. Just take a moment and try to count the number of legal agreements that you have made to get your PC to the point it is right now. How many? 100? 1000?

    Is there anyone out there who has created a website specifically to deal with these sorts of things? A technologically inclined lawyer with a whole lotta time on their hands? Someone to offer all us legal dilettantes and wannabees some guidelines and advice regarding the various legal "boilerplate" to which we submit ourselves every day?
  • I don't remember the exact details but I remember that back around the time of Borland C++ 4.5 they tried a to sell that with a license that basically said that Borland owned access to all products released using Borland C++ or something like that.

    Borland backed down from that license as well. But I think it's alarming that they keep trying stuff like this a second time.

    GlobeCom AB
  • by RedSynapse ( 90206 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @10:20AM (#2847826)
    I'm not defending this particular licence but it's important to recognize that Standard Form Contracts (aka EULAs in the software industry) in general help reduce costs for both the producer and the consumer. If the terms of a transaction had to be negotiated on an individual basis every time we rented a car or bought a videogame many of these products would simply be priced out of the market. But the inclusion of standard "boilerplate" disclaimers reduces transaction costs (i.e. lawyers and time) for both parties.

    Some people would claim that the producer has more power than the consumer in this situation, but if consumers find that conditions a particular producer's SFC too onerous then they are free to switch to a competitor's product which has more favourable terms (i.e. dump Kylix/JBuilder for something else which is exactly what I'm sure many people were planning to do).

    Whether people actually pay any attention to SFC's is another matter entirely. Steven E. Rhoades writes in The Economist's View of the World that in the mid 1980's one bank inserted a sentence in the midst of its disclosure statement offering ten dollars to anyone who sent in a postcard with the words "Regulation E" on it. Out of 115,000 recipients of the statement not one responded.

    • in the mid 1980's one bank inserted a sentence in the midst of its disclosure statement offering ten dollars to anyone who sent in a postcard with the words "Regulation E" on it. Out of 115,000 recipients of the statement not one responded.

      Heh, imagine that now. With email and the internet that bank would have been out $1,000,000 no problem.
      • > Heh, imagine that now. With email and the internet that bank would have been out $1,000,000 no problem.

        Kind of unlikely - the use of the internet might have turned one into lots, but the fact that no-one responded means that there would have been no-one to spread the work.

        If I'd been one of the 115000, I would at least have read it - I always read the fine print of any contracts I am involved with. The only exception I make to this is that I don't read all those nearly identical software EULAs.
    • People don't have a problem with the fact that these contracts are "standard", they have a problem with the conditions they contain.

      It is also an economic fallacy to suggest that reducing legal costs for the seller is necessarily advantageous to the buyer. If the reduced legal costs and resulting lower product costs are more than offset by higher risk to the buyers, it's a bad deal. Think of it as reverse insurance. Since sellers are rational and can bank on buyers not understanding this point, they are going to make sure not to lower their prices enough to compensate for the increased risk to buyers.

      Finally, your "free market" argument is bogus as well. IDEs aren't like apples--you can't substitute one for the other easily. There is a high cost associated with switching to a different development environment even if the other environment were fully functionally equivalent. But, in many cases, there are actually no functional equivalents. You can't substitute anything for Visual C++, for example; obviously, there is no other IDE that is as up-to-date with recent Microsoft "enhancements" as the one they produce. And, to a lesser degree, the same applies to Kylix/JBuilder.

      • It is also an economic fallacy to suggest that reducing legal costs for the seller is necessarily advantageous to the buyer.

        My argument isn't that SFCs reduce legal costs only for the seller, they also reduce them directly for the consumer in that the consumer does not have to pay a lawyer, or spend time to negotiate the terms of each transaction.

        If the reduced legal costs and resulting lower product costs are more than offset by higher risk to the buyers, it's a bad deal.

        I agree 100 percent, but I think this rarely happens because if a producer offers a consumer some horrendous contractual terms they consumer is free not to buy. I think this whole Kylix/JBuilder brouhaha reflects the fact that sellers in fact cannot "bank on buyers not understanding this point."

        Finally as to the non-substitutability of Visual C++ or other tools; Imagine Microsoft inserted new clauses in its EULA that stated that everything made with Visual C++ became property of Microsoft, and furthermore any profit or savings made by using anything made with Visual C++ had to be turned over immediately to the Microsoft Corporation. Would developers throw up their hands and say "Well that's it, I guess Microsoft just owns us because there's no other tool in the world that enables us to accomplish the same goals that Visual C++ does" or would they simply transition to another product that does place such onerous licensing restrictions on them? I think they would do the latter, and although this might be a very costly process, the consumer, being rational, will choose the whichever product that provides the lowest cost and highest benefit.

  • Seriously though, it's good to see a company respond to the voices of the online community, and admit it made a mistake. Good job Borland."

    They should have known how bad this was before publishing the EULA, especially since they are trying to court the open source fanatics of the world (I count myself in among that group)

    They are no Microsoft, they cannot afford to be. They need all of us to combat MS business tactics.

    They are in some dire need of bitch slapping, not praise.


  • Seems to be they do listen to the(ir) (on-line) community though. Companies like Microsoft would never change their license even if half the earth is not agreeing with their license.

    This mean they did discuss the matter and they did get an opinion what changed their minds.

    Next to that they are just another company trying to do business and trying to protect theirselves in any way. They also do have competition just like every company on this planet.
  • I want to know what happens to the lawyers who come up with this sort of crap to begin with. This is not the first time a company has done something absolutely moronic on what is seems likely to be the misguided advice of overzealous lawyers.

    Does anyone know what these companies do to lawyers who come up with ideas like this? Especially lawyers dealing with digital IP, a relatively new area. Do they get fired, censured, or do companies tend to assume that since the interests of the company were really in mind, and rabid consumers did something surprising, the lawyers are not at fault?
  • Seriously though, it's good to see a company respond to the voices of the online community, and admit it made a mistake.

    You're overlooking the greatest example of the above -- Borland changing it's name back to Borland from "Inprise".

  • by totallygeek ( 263191 ) <> on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @11:22AM (#2848076) Homepage
    Most likely, Borland only revamped the license to quit the Slashdot effect on their web servers.

  • Good job? Good job??? Is it good that companies feel they can try slipping invasions of privacy by us? If they get caught and there is a big backlash, all they have to do is claim ignorance or that it's a mistake or that they just showed bad judgement... and the good little consumer says, "Oh, that's OK, I forgive you. Let's be friends."

    Well, it seems there's a whole lot of bad judgement going around that companies feel can be excused away.

    Do you trust Borland? Do you believe them? How is your trust for Borland different from other companies that have tried to float outrageous measures that were later excused away or apologized for?
  • How does activation relate to licensing?

    I have JBuilder 5, and every time I have to install it on a new computer, I have to activate the installation with JBuilder's website, or I continue to get an annoying message telling me I must do so. It's not too hard to imagine this feature deactivating my installation in some future version of JBuilder (ala XP, Citrix, and probably others).

    If Borland were to go out of business, what would happen to my product and the activation requirement? Would I never be able to install it on a new machine?
  • what a coincidence (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Reziac ( 43301 )
    As I'm reading this comment page, what arrives in my mailbox? "Borland Community News". I kid you not.

    It includes this passage (quoted under the Doctrine of Fair Use :)

    "Whew! What a year!

    "What does it all mean? I think it means that despite the economic downturn that swept through the country in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, despite the "burst" of the Internet bubble, a company can succeed by delivering great technology and paying attention to what developers need and want."


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