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We sell our souls so easily

Slashdot pointed me to this (link dead) http://www.tgdaily.com/2005/10/22/rtf_eula/ RTF EULA article. It's amusing, but also a little disturbing, because we are smothered by so much legalese that most of us pay little or no attention and just numbly sign or click our agreement. Have you ever had a mortgage? The TV ads showing four foot high piles of paperwork are only slightly exaggerated. Who knows what you are really agreeing to? Mortgages, EULA's and all the other things we basically ignore can contain terms we really don't like and shouldn't accept. Yet we need the mortgage, we need the OS or application, so we dutifully agree to whatever is presented.

With mortgages and other consumer transactions, we usually have at least some protection because of laws that try to protect us from outright chicanery. With EULA's, outrageous terms may or may not be enforceable, but we seldom even know what terms are stated at all.

Well, as that article points out, often the companies whose EULA you clicked either don't seem to know their own terms or don't care very much about them. In spite of clauses that may say certain products can't be criticized or reviewed, people do just that all over the web, and haven't been sued. In many cases, the EULA couldn't really prevent that anyway: the best they could do is revoke your license to use the software, which is water under the bridge to many reviewers who aren't using the software after the review anyway.

Maybe we should just kill all the lawyers.



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© Tony Lawrence







Wed Oct 26 13:39:45 2005: 1253   BigDumbDinosaur


In spite of clauses that may say certain products can't be criticized or reviewed, people do just that all over the web, and haven't been sued.

According to one of my lawyer clients, such clauses have been deemed unenforceable by the courts on First Amendment grounds as too broad and vague. Of course, that would only matter in the USA -- critics in other countries might want to watch their backs. <Smile>

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