back to article Adobe demands 7,000 years a day from humankind

I'm not a very good liar, I haven't got the memory for it, which is why it always pricks my conscience whenever I tick the yes box to the prompt "I have read and understood…" when installing software. I am, of course, fibbing. I never read a word. In fact, even though we all tick yes to these agreements every day, unless you're …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Alert

am I the only one who felt like I was reading an EULA while reading that article? My mind started clouding over, and I tend to be a bit picky about these things

1
0
FAIL

You think that's bad?

The boxed version of Windows 1.03 (or 1.04, I forget. It was 1987 when I experienced the wonder) had a sealed envelope inside it, containing the installation floppies and some paperwork. It was sealed with a thick white sticker upon which were written words to the effect of "by opening this envelope you agree to be bound by the terms contained within it".

For some reason, this was later deemed to be not legally enforceable. No idea why.

7
0
Silver badge
Holmes

Re: You think that's bad?

autodesk took that on a pace

no warnings on the box but the eula said that opening the box implied agreement to the following terms... .then i lost the will to live.

i seem to remember them getting a bit of a kicking over this, well this and other statements in the eula that made it impossible to resell.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

So, did that give you a hint...

about the corporate philosophy of Microsoft?

0
0

now you mention it

it WAS three pages and I couldn't be arsed to read beyond page 1

0
0
Stop

I remember

signing up for gmail, reading about 10% of the T&Cs, then finding that it had timed out on me. It's like they don't expect anyone to read them. Idiots.

4
0
Devil

Re: I remember

Blizzard do to same thing for the T&Cs for their various online-only games. And this was PRE-Activision!

0
0

Some years ago..

... I read the EULA for a piece of proprietary software (because I was bored, OK?). They had probably cropped some of the text directly from another licence and hadn't bothered to read what was there.

I had a meeting with them a few weeks later and remembered what I had seen. It turned out that we were possibly using the software illegally and I felt that they should be aware of this.

The key phrase was something like ".. in cases of lighting..." instead of "lightning". So the agreement indicated that we couldn't use the software if the lights were turned on and they took no responsibility for any problems if they occurred.

Everyone had a good laugh at this, but it did get me wondering, what would happen if a supplier did try to use an error in an agreement to their advantage.

Never did find out.

0
0

I remember some legal mumbo jumbo from a while back claiming that EULA's were completely unenforceable under UK law as the term - 'agreement' meant that both sides had a chance to write their terms. Since EULA's only give a chance for the company to offer it's terms, and the only option is to disagree (especially when you've already brought the software) , there is no agreement, and no enforceability.

At least, that will be my defence in court...

2
0
Anonymous Coward

You can have a one-sided agreement (where only one party gets to write the terms and the other one takes it or leaves it). It's subject to unfair terms legislation in the UK (i.e. the terms of the agreement can't be manifestly unfair) and so the more arduous stuff is simply unenforceable. Ok, the agreements normally say that they're California law or similar, not English law, but I don't think that'll get you very far when you know your customers are in the UK.

I remember from my law school days that there was some suggestion that, if the side that wrote the agreement knew that the other side hadn't read the terms and conditions, those terms and conditions weren't binding. Don't think that's ever been properly tested though, so don't bet on it.

These two things, the fact that if the contracts *were* subject to scrutiny they'd open massive cans of worms (as the article has shown) and the billions of hours and dollars it would take these companies to enforce EULAs that everyone was breaching the software just through day-to-day use suggest to me that if you just want to use the software then you're fine to just tick the box.

1
0

I believe

That the main issue with EULAs is that the terms aren't up front but post-purchase. That is the main issue with them being unenforcable. Basically if stores would provide a contract up front detailing the EULA then that would be legaly binding - it's a take it or leave it thing. If you take it you pay for it and are bound by it. Else you don't. Since you aren't made aware of this before buying it it would certainly breach various laws.

0
0

Re: I believe

Add to that the rule most stores have about not being able to return opened software and basically the whole thing is little more than a civilized charade.

0
0

> This agreement does not permit you to install or Use the Software on a computer file server.

Define 'file server'.

By default Windows has a shared folder visible over the network and is therefore a 'computer file server'. Does this mean that a large proportion of Abode's user base are in breach of the T&Cs?

1
0
Silver badge
Joke

When asked, 9 out of 10 lawyers replied 'Yes. No. Maybe. Where's my money?'

5
0
Coat

"Can I ask you a couple of questions?"

"Certainly. Now, what's your second question?"

0
0

Consideration

Perhaps a lawerly type can explain to me that the "consideration" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consideration) is in an "agreement" such as Adobe's? I can see that there is an (implicit) value to the end user in being able to view content that would otherwise be invisible, but there's nothing of value passing in the other direction. Adobe may well get the benefit of revenue from content developers as a side effect of the existence of content consumers, but they're not a contracting party.

Obviously as the copyright holders in the original software they'd be able to stop people redistrbuting it or making and distributing derived works, but even then surely they'd be hard put to quantify monetary damages arising from unlicensed use of a free giveaway if it came to court. As for the rest, difficult to see how any sort of contract exists.

0
0
Pint

Equivalent to populations of Macclesfield or Staines.

Well, having lived in Staines for a short time I can say that reading Adobe paperwork would be considered a real highlight of any day.

2
0

Skip the link to demagoguery please

I think this is a great article, but the link to Niall Ferguson's dreadful Reith Lectures (embarrassing in their partisanship given that he's a serious scholar) is wide of the mark. Surely this is a different case altogether? I disagree with Ferguson that the bankers were over-regulated, but the point is that they were being trusted with other people's money to manage, so need in some form to be watched and to be stopped from misusing that money. Users of a software product are in a completely different position - we're not placed in a position of trust in any respect. OK, it was only intended as a partial analogy, but given that it rests on such dodgy grounds to start with, it doesn't really work.

4
0
Devil

Fess Up

Who here has slipped a joke clause into a Terms & Conditions web page to see if anybody noticed?

3
0
Silver badge

I do read the terms and conditions

BSD is really short. GPL V2 is clear and simple. GPL V3 is longer and more complicated, but those three cover the vast majority of software I install. Years ago, clicking on a document activated a network install of Microsoft Office. I decided I was not authorised to agree to the terms on behalf of my employer, so I clicked the "Disagree" option. It installed and worked fine.

If you want some really good terms and conditions, try a porn site. If you accidently subscribe twice, you get charged double. To stop this can call the premium rate number and listen to the prerecorded message. I assume the message says something like "We got your money and we are keeping it". To unsubscribe, fill in the web form and wait for instructions to arrive by email. They should arrive within a decade.

The first place to look in a contract is how to end it. If that bit is missing or complicated, you know it is time to go elsewhere. The other fun clauses:

"If any conditions on this contract are not enforcible then the remainder of the contract will still remain in force." This means: "Many of these conditions are attempts to fool you into thinking you do not have statutory rights."

"This software [a C compiler] will work broadly in line with the printed instructions". The printed instructions were a small card explaining how to install the compiler. Started the installation in Friday morning, and it was still going on Monday morning. Nothing in the 'printed instructions' said installation would complete in under a year.

Free software: automatic no hassle money back guaranty. Proprietary software: If negligence or malice or our part causes your computer to explode and burn down you house or office, damages are limited to the cost of the software or a replacement CD.

2
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: I do read the terms and conditions

"If any conditions on this contract are not enforcible then the remainder of the contract will still remain in force." This means: "Many of these conditions are attempts to fool you into thinking you do not have statutory rights."

There is an accepted legal process for contracts (blue lining) which permits the removal of a clause without it affecting the remainder of the contract.

This generally works if you take the overall spirit of the contract, permitting an unfair clause to be removed without declaring the entire contract null and void (which could lead to more serious repercussions). Agreed it is open to abuse.

0
0

Re: I do read the terms and conditions

MIT is pretty common too (very common for Ruby and Python libraries) and very short and permissive too.

0
0
Pint

TLDR;

Read the first page of the article.What happened in the end?

1
0
Silver badge

Re: TLDR;

The kid's psychiatrist was also dead and the women turned out to be a man

2
0

Re: TLDR;

> the women turned out to be a man.

How did that work? I know you can fit multiple men into one woman but I didn't know it could be done the other way round.

2
0
Silver badge

Good to see someone noticing...

...Yet I’ve come to the conclusion that this discontent has less to do with this process troubling an innate honesty. It is more about an increasing feeling of contempt for the 'I agree and understand' approach that, time and again, undermines personal integrity to perpetuate what amounts to a meaningless relationship....

I'm glad people are starting to notice this. These changes in perception and relationships are not easily definable, but they ARE very important. They set the whole tone for how a society works.

In many ways a person from the 1950s would be appalled if they were shown how today's society works. For a start, the assumption in the 1950s was that an MP was honourable. Look at Critchel Down, or the Profumo affair to see what happened if they were shown to have 'slipped'. But politicians (of all parties) since Blair have successfully provided 'leadership' which has resulted in:

- A widespread contempt for the law

- The assumption that bare-faced lies are acceptable

- Operational processes which renders certain sections of the community (mainly the police and politicians) above the law

4
0
Bronze badge
Devil

Re: Good to see someone noticing...

I think that started pre-Blair, but I wouldn't like to say exactly when. I remember John Major's administration was pretty laid-back, morally speaking. Looking back, I think we could pin quite a lot of blame on 'Yes, Minister'. That was the show that set, for a generation, our base expectation that public servants were ruled by selfish interests, with public service coming (at best) a poor second in their priorities.

The irony about EULAs, as the article hints but fails to say outright, is that they create a regime where the only people allowed to use your software fall into two camps:

(1) IP lawyers with way too much time on their hands

(2) liars and fraudsters.

Which, as you say, sets up the expectation for their ongoing relationship with the customer. They detest and mistrust me, and I'll repay that confidence by screwing them over if I get the ghost of a chance. Nice one.

0
0
Silver badge

"I have to say I find Apple’s take on things rather interesting... rather than bore you with it, you can just move on and click instal."

That's because they don't want you to read it, you might object to the clause that allows Apple to sew your mouth to the ass of another iTunes user...

0
0
Coat

" That's because they don't want you to read it, you might object to the clause that allows Apple to sew your mouth to the ass of another iTunes user..."

Ah, the centipede clause. It's a classic. My favourite is the Insanity Claus. That's the one where you're required to believe you're a jolly old man with a white beard who brings toys to children once a year.

Mines the one with keys to the sleigh.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

An interesting discussion of EULAs

Covers general issues, as well as some issues specific to Australia:

http://www.caslon.com.au/ipguide30.htm

0
0

Testing the theory

Not sure if it's true but at least one firm added a clause claiming their right over your immortal soul.

Here's a link to a few other playful contract terms.

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Testing the theory

I remember that....so it must be true or we ticked an EULA to share consciousness.

If I remember correctly if the person read the EULA and contacted there support they got cash off or a lollipop or something.

0
0
Silver badge
Pirate

Back to primary school

I just cross my fingers when I check them.Under playground law, that stops me being bound by the agreement. Ha,ha,ha! I had crossed keys!

Pirate icon, because he has crossed keys, too.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

With more cars coming with LCD screens instead of dials it is only a matter of time before you're accepting disclaimers before starting the car.

Of course, such a thing may be illegal, but I'm sure there are people lobbying for it, probably Google given their auto-driving technology and love for lobbying.

0
0
Silver badge

You already have to with some sports models - when you enter sports mode you have to confirm, which is akin to clicking the yes box.

0
0
PT

"..it is only a matter of time before you're accepting disclaimers before starting the car."

That day is already here. My wife's car requires that you click to agree to its software terms and conditions before any electronics beyond the basic speedo and gauges will work, and then another disclaimer that you won't use the GPS navigator while you're driving(!). Then the radio won't work unless you agree to IT'S terms and conditions ... hold the wheel and watch the road for me a minute while I read this ... ah, it says I agree not to use it while I'm driving.

Strangely enough, the vehicle makes no mention of Google.

0
0
Trollface

tl;dr

0
0
Coat

tl;dr

0
0
FAIL

TL;DR

as above...

0
0
Bronze badge
Windows

Re: TL;DR

Tl;Dr

0
0

Hands up who thinks that has worked?

Isn't it a bit early to say whether the response to the banking crisis has worked or not. So far there hasn't been another crash, so maybe it has.

0
0

Where's the Score the Article widget gone?

The only time I want to use it to mark an article positively and I find it's disappeared.

My assumption is that generally people only used to to mark articles down.

1
0

Guilty as charged?

I often need to rename a copy of a flash ocx file to allow an old corporate screensaver to work. Am I guilty of reverse engineering?

Why Apple don't use Flash article from The Jobs on http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash

They really have fell out haven't they! Anything to do with the EULA?

0
0
Gold badge

Enforceable

There is a saying that ignorance of the law is no defence, but if the law is so complicated that *no-one* can tell you what it means then there is certainly a moral case for saying that ignorance *should* be a defence.

That's obviously a massive can of worms, but we should not dismiss it out of hand for that reason. Each year, governments around the world add to the pile of "law" in their respective countries and make it less and less likely that even the judges and lawyers (let alone the populace) actually know what's allowed. At some point, the camel's back will give way. Once the judges, lawyers and politicians can no longer give a straight answer to the question "what does that mean", it is a short step from "no-one knows exactly what is illegal" to "nothing I want to do is actually illegal". We probably don't want to be around when that happens.

To be topical, we already have that situation with tax. The result is that sufficiently large corporations can spend a relatively small amount on lawyers and save a huge amount on tax. They are above the law, in practice if not in theory. Yesterday I heard that Starbucks had announced that they were reconsidering their use of tax dodges, not because any of them had been found illegal but because they were worried about the publicity and there have been demos outside branches. It appears that a multinational corporation fears the threat of random acts of violence rather more than the threat of legal action. That's a rather dysfunctional society we have here, then.

3
0

This post has been deleted by its author

So what is the contract

The EULA thing is all very interesting because under English law a contract exists if there is an unambigous offer (software made available) and an unambigous acceptance (ticking the box). However, the unambigousness means it must be clear what the parties actively agreed to and this isn't clear on the consumer's side. Also, even when a contract exists the terms are considered to be whatever the two parties reasonably believed them to be. Supplement this with European consumer legislation which basically says the provider has an obligation to make sure the consumer understands what they are agreeing to and you end up with very little.

The bottom line is that where the agreement is with a consumer (non-commercial user) the fact that Adobe (or whoever) can reasonably determine that the EULA isn't being read the contract can be presumed to be whatever the consumer thought it was - ie yippee, free software - full stop, end of agreement.

So as a home user the likes of Adobe don't have a leg to stand on as far as your obligations are concerned. It might give them some slight protection in terms of liability but I suspect that mostly won't work. If you sued Adobe because a flash install wrecked your computer then their defence is going to have to be the common law defence that the consumer had no reasonable cause to expect Adobe to take liability for their use of free software. The EULA simple backs this up as an "if you insist on looking at the paperwork then its on our side" measure.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

I do not think it means what you think it means.

As far as I knew, the acronym "SLA" stands for "<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Service-level_agreement">Service Level Agreement</a>", and refers to a warranty from a service provider to give at least a certain percentage of uptime or certain speed of dealing with problems, often with a defined refund of charges when the level of service guaranteed is not met.

I've never heard it being used to refer to a generic EULA before, and don't think it makes much sense in that usage, as most EULAs tend to disclaim any guarantee of functionality - as you yourself refer to "the scope of most licence agreements to relieve the vendor of the responsibility of actually delivering a functioning product".

What did you think it meant?

(ObTopic: As far as I'm concerned, all EULAs I've ever seen are dishonest bordering on fraudulent, unequitable, invalid and unenforceable. Whenever I see a tickbox that says "By clicking on this box you agree that you accept the Ts&Cs", I address my computer thusly: "I wish to negotiate an exemption to all the terms and conditions of the license. By turning checked when I click on your checkbox, you are agreeing that you consent to this waiver". I don't see why that should be any more or less valid a contract than the one I have supposedly agreed to with an inanimate entity.)

0
0
Devil

Procedure jockeys

These EULA's are written by self declared very smart people who earn of money using their voodoo witchcraft to protect the company from imaginary risks. This actually is the lesser of several evils, the worst being that you let them write procedures that actually matter in they daily business of a company.

0
0

Are you familiar with the Terms of Service Didn't Read project?

http://tos-dr.info/

You might find that they are trying to address the complaints in this article and have made a rather good start.

0
0
Pint

Oh, and I fully consider this to be the best license ever:

/*

* ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

* "THE BEER-WARE LICENSE" (Revision 42):

* <phk@FreeBSD.ORG> wrote this file. As long as you retain this notice you

* can do whatever you want with this stuff. If we meet some day, and you think

* this stuff is worth it, you can buy me a beer in return Poul-Henning Kamp

* ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

*/

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums