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Software Your Rights Online

EULAs Don't Have To Suck 233

jfruhlinger writes "The ubiquitous EULA — reams of baffling text imposing draconian terms on software users — infuriate most Slashdot users and are routinely ignored by everyone else (until they suddenly cause trouble, of course). But it doesn't have to be that way. Several European countries are considering laws mandating user-friendly EULAs, and some companies provide them voluntarily."
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EULAs Don't Have To Suck

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  • Click-through GPL. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2011 @02:47PM (#38088828)

    Routinely ignored.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2011 @02:49PM (#38088854)

    Draconian, unethical, and immoral EULAs are just the natural extension of a political system that has long since been sold to the highest bidder.

    I had to sign a contract for employment that claimed company ownership of projects completed on my own time. I had already turned down all the other jobs and needed my income, so I had to sign it.

    It should be illegal to even write these types of contracts or EULAs, and it would be if not for our blindingly corrupt government.

  • by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <(gro.suoirafinmo) (ta) (hsals-cire)> on Thursday November 17, 2011 @02:55PM (#38088914) Homepage Journal

    They are an attempt to form a unconscionable (in the legal sense) contract with thousands of people. And almost invariably they try to convince you that you have less rights than you do under the law. They are basically about eliminating fair use, because every one I've seen uses the leverage of copyright law.

    Now, if this were about terms of service, that would be something. I'm all for terms of service that are legible by ordinary human beings.

  • Step 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Thursday November 17, 2011 @02:55PM (#38088928)

    Several European countries are considering laws mandating user-friendly EULAs

    While I think this is a great start, I think a better idea would be to take the common subset of clauses that both consumers and vendors can agree upon, and make them implied by law.

    EULAs shouldn’t be an automatic, they should be an exception, for cases where something is radically different.

    To an extreme, I don’t think that clicking “I agree” should even be legally binding. If you have some kind of special case, lawyers or at least something more substantial than clicking a button should be required. If your customers can’t be bothered, either learn to operate within the common set of agreed rules, or go into a different business.

  • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @03:20PM (#38089228)

    Oswald's rule of EULA:

    If you have to scroll the EULA is no good and few people will read it.

  • by kf6auf ( 719514 ) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @03:28PM (#38089336)

    I don't know why no one includes summary's at the top of EULAs. It's not like it's that hard of an idea to think of and I've yet to hear a single objection (though I'm sure /. can help with this). No one is actually saying you can't have pages and pages of precise details spelled out in pages and pages for the lawyers.

    By the way, this is suggested on page 2 of the article for all of you who either didn't read the article, or refuse to bother going to page 2 of an article that has no reason not to be on a single page.

  • by alostpacket ( 1972110 ) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @03:35PM (#38089434) Homepage

    Well I can see a valid use for a "This software is provided as-is" clause. It's clauses like this that are bad: "you can only use this yourself, never re-sell, rent, trade, and must only use it on one computer from the hours of 1pm-2pm with one hand tied behind your back..."

  • by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <(gro.suoirafinmo) (ta) (hsals-cire)> on Thursday November 17, 2011 @05:19PM (#38090598) Homepage Journal

    I don't think that they are unconscionable by default. Sure the vast majority (every single one?) that I've bothered to consult has been pretty draconian, but there is nothing inherent in the idea of a EULA that makes it unconscionable.

    I am not a lawyer, but I do know this... The term "unconscionable" when referring to contracts has a very specific legal meaning. And by that definition, EULAs are inherently unconscionable. They can't help it. They don't allow negotiation of terms. They are 'agreed' to after money changes hands. The signature of the party who is under the most restrictions isn't even verified. They are, by the strict legal definition of the term, inherently unconscionable.

    Yes, the terms could be very nice. But whether or not the terms are good for the buyer doesn't actually strongly figure into whether or not a contract is considered 'unconscionable' from a legal standpoint.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354