Leadership

Do you pay attention to software EULAs?

EULAs are necessary evils when it comes to installing software. You can ignore them, but do so at your own peril. At the same time, I don't think many people pay attention to them. Take our poll about EULAs and see how you compare with other TechRepublic members.

The EULA (End User License Agreement) is one of those necessary evils when it comes to installing new software. You either accept the terms, along with all of the potentially odious bits that go along with it, or you don't, which means you don't get to install the software at all.

The implications of a violated EULA have come to light again recently since Psytar shipped a clone of the Mac complete with a copy of OS X.  Running OS X on non-Apple equipment expressly violates Apple's EULA for OS X.  News.com posted an article that goes into detail about the violation.  Another Apple EULA was also recently in the news because the one for Safari For Windows expressly forbade you from running it on Windows.

The Psystar article points out that even though you don't even get to view a EULA until you open software and start the installation, the EULA is still enforceable.  This is true even though opening the software may prevent you from returning it if you choose not to accept the EULA to begin with. Although it doesn't seem to make much sense, that's the current law as it stands.

What does your organization do regarding EULAs?  I suspect most people don't pay attention to them at all.  I don't think I ever read completely through one, so for all I know Microsoft owns my first child.  Take the poll below and sound off in comments:

18 comments
egarnerit
egarnerit

If it is free, I pay closer attention it, making sure it is free for Commercial Use. For example, SketchUp. They have a free version and a Pro version. You are not permitted to use the Free version for commercial use. The same goes for Google Earth and most online maps.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

Not many people know that these agreements allow the company full control and no liability. These are probably one of the most egregious documents committed on the public to date. While probably not practical, any company can walk up to your house and retrieve them without notice. Be prepared for the next wave. Companies building death dates into software so that they can kill the software by date or over the Internet. The whole digital rights movement is all about this. So what you are buying is just..."air".

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

EULA- is that a European dance for grass skirts? I often pay close attention when clicking through these things, you never know where they will hide that prechecked box for installing the Googe toolbar. Other installs are slowed down because yuo HAVE to scroll the bar through the end of the EULA to get the Agree checkbox to appear. Do I CARE about a EULA would be more appropriate, in which case I have to say, HELL NO! Anyone can slap a EULA on a piece of software, even where/when not legally applicable. The OS came with the notebook, fair enough, I have a licence to run it. The first thing I do with a new box is to remove all the BS trial software and strip teh Os of all the unwanted crap (Norton yeah sure, I'll subscribe to that when the trial expires, LOL) and install my favorite ISO's from a library I keep handy.

krisoccer
krisoccer

I do pay attention now more than ever. This has not always been the case, but was emphasized in business courses I took and with the company I work for. Keep in mind, though, that it's not just software that has usage terms. We all have legal agreements with our cable companies, our phone service providers, and just about every product or service that we use. Do people follow the terms of these other agreements?

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

I have always read every one before accepting or declining. (for my own use I decline microsoft's EULA) I have never violated any EULA or other terms of use. I'm just anal like that. A leftover from being a corporate chief pilot/director of opps. I was responsible for "regulatory compliance," and the FAA told me I knew more about it than they did. They used to send calls for information about FAR part 91 to me...

AES2
AES2

Drive-by spyware racketeers like 180/Zango and Gator/Claria have been vindicated in court by saying their victims all agreed to install their stuff by clicking on the EULA for something else that they actually wanted. I've never known anyone who even read the first screen, let alone scrolled all the way to the bottom.

dkavraal
dkavraal

I just read them and be aware what is my legal restrictions of use. Just to be aware of... Unfortunately they do not restrict my planned usage :)

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

It all depends on the situation. If I am using free SW for business or home use makes a big difference. If for business, and I want to try SW, often they have a clause stating that it is free for home use only. Or, another time I read it is how it will be used. Is it licensed per machine or per person? What are restrictions on machines that have multiple logon accounts? If I have questions about testing it in the business environment, I first try to get a base of how much it will cost and the licensing structure, then I look over the EULA and compare to a few pre-planned scenario's. Afterwards, if still interested I contact the company to see if I can obtain a trial for x users (x users may vary depending on the SW being looked at).

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Not only is the language in EULAs obtuse, but I swear they obfuscate their true intentions behind legalize and strange terminology. Let the Legal Dept deal with it. I've got more important things to do with my time.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

The EULA is normally just one of those things that I personally just click Next on and bypass without reading. I know you're supposed to read them and abide by the terms, but I don't think I'm alone. Check out the poll I'm running in Decision Central regarding EULA usage: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/decisioncentral/?p=108 What do you think about EULAs? Are they worth the ASCII they're made out of? Do they pay attention to them or just ignore them?

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Actually, if you had ever read threads here about ISP invading privacy, you would soon realize that NOBODY has ever read the TOS for their ISP. Many people just don't realize that your ISP can do pretty much anything they want with your connection; send anything down the pipe and display it on your screen, track your internet useage and report it to their advertisers, pass off your email address ot their advertisers and partners etc. It's amazing how many people think that their connections offer unlimited bandwidth. In actuality the connection is unlimited (simply meaning not restricted to time you can use it) and they usually have a monthly bandwidth cap (50-100GB). But people here unlimited and think it means unlimited bandwidth. So in essence I think very few people read contracts and they just bitch and whine about what their ISP does (invasion of privacy, stealing bandwidth from me etc.) without realizing they accepted the activity when taking on the service. Same with long distance carriers, deregulated insurance providers etc.

jefftw1854
jefftw1854

If I can not return the software after opening it and I can not know the terms before I open it I regard the EULA as an unenforceable contract of adhesion. Either tell me what I am buying before you get my money or be prepared to promptly return it if I find I dont like your "hidden terms", anyother way of doing business is at best deceptive and at worst fradulent. In what other industry would you buy a product, take it back to it's place of use, open it and then discover limitations on its use that you do not want and that effect its utility and value, but cannot return because you had to open the package to discover the limitations?

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

understand what each sentence means, one by one and contextualize it in paragraphs. First understand references, 'herin named' etc. to cut down on the confusion of who a comment is referring to. This relly helps lay out context. Take individual words as definitions themselves, understanding verbage is 99% of the game. By looting out teh keywords and finding out who they apply to, legal BS is actually pretty easy to figure out. One key is to remember, the EULA is designed simply to protec the software provider ONLY, there's nothing in there that gives you permission to do anything except buy and install it. You almost never OWN it, you CAN use it. Other than that, half of it is inapplicable by Constitutional Law anyway, but needs to be there for the handful of States it applies in. It's like in Canada, we get so many contracts here that state "aa protected by Quebec law". But in the west, that doesn't count either, we cannot and are not bound by Quebec law, they just like to think they can do so. The MPAA rants and raves about copyright laws, which may or may not be legally applicable due to your country's constitutional laws, Just because a licence or law is written/quoted somewhere, it doesn't mean it applies in all cases.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

would be how it is used. If used in a straightforward manner as intended, there would be no issue. However deviating from that and you should know at least some of the boundaries of what is acceptable for use. Example, I bought a SW package for 1 machine, $700 and there was only a generic logon for the machine. Another tech added (on request) 7 different user profiles to the system. I glanced over the EULA and this meant that we had to purchase 7 more licenses :0 Then I looked and 3 people had remote Desktop setup with it. Another look over the EULA means an additional license for each remote connection whether those users used this SW or not.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

The fact that lawyers are the only ones that understand the things. And even if they don't, they'll make you think they do. :)

Freebird54
Freebird54

I read them - but not necessarily all the way through, or in full detail. The important stuff is not too hard to find in most of them. Interestingly, they have evolved considerably in recent years - never for the benefit of the customer they purport to serve! It used to be that you would be granted the use of the software- as long as multiple copies were never in simultaneous use - now the whole thing is designed to be as restrictive (and protective of the creator) as can possibly be gotten away with. The most egregiously overblown restrictions and limitations on responsibility are found on Microsoft products - which is why I no longer contribute to their success. Any company that claims to right to disable the software that I pay for - without responsibility for the hardships caused - will NOT be making sales to me anytime soon! Unfortunately, many other products seem to have been succumbing to this way of thought - and apparently cut and pasting whole paragraphs into THEIR EULAS too. Is that a copyright violation :) ? It is worth keeping in mind that a good percentage of the claims and powers referred to in a EULA are NOT enforceable in many jurisdictions (and they know it) but just in case they reserve all rights to themselves that are NOT specifically forbidden as a condition of sale in that area. Heaven help a violator in a country without consumer protection statutes! [i]Edit: tense error [/i]

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Unfortunately the EULA is usually available for free online at the publishers site (without prior purchase), if not it is YOUR responsibility to ask them. As all software has a EULA attached to it (and you KNOW it), you would have to be considered incapable of accepting a legally binding contract before you could play dumb on that one. Theres no way you could go to court, claioming to be a CEO, and not know about software licencing. As for returning unopened software, you CAN return it. Contact the software developer and explain that you do not accept the EULA, they will accept the return. It may take some pushing but they will do it, as will management at most retail stores, despite policy.

The Maverick Phantom Wanderer (formerly Macoza, No
The Maverick Phantom Wanderer (formerly Macoza, No

... like this are why I rarely purchase software anymore. (The only time I actually buy anything is when a copy of the EULA- or other form of license- is available online.) That way, I avoid wasting extremely limited resources (my money and my time).