Accept the Defaults

The common everyday EULA can become a prophylactic against prosecution for unscrupulous marketeers/virus vandals, who can take advantage of the fact that almost no one reads a word of any End User License Agreement — people just “accept the defaults” — click OK and move on. So now we’ve got commercial programs that have users agree to let them propagate, virus-style – to every user in their address books. The program / virus is not illegal, because every user agrees to its viral terms by clicking OK. We are punished for being busy and trustful.

Of course, this first incarnation affects only Windows users, and then only Outlook users. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t affect me – I don’t read the damn EULAs either.

Music: Stevie Wonder :: Black Man

2 Replies to “Accept the Defaults”

  1. Are there any other products in this world that require consumers to sign enduser license agreements before use? I really can’t think of any, other than activities that might prove to be dangerous like horseback riding tours, bungee jumping, and skydiving. Your car doesen’t have an EUL nor does:

    appliances
    furniture
    music (all media types)
    movies (all media types)
    Theme parks
    restraunts
    clothes
    cosmetics
    medicine
    computer hardware (well, most I think)
    etc

    Is this because many of these things are regulated by government and have standard fair use understanding? Maybe something like that needs to be established for computer software, wherein all software has a single EUL which companies hav the choice of liberalizing, but not constricting for their individual product. In addition, this kind of regulation could prevent companies from taking advantage of nieve users knowledge and/or computer.

    I hesitate to say regulation is the total answer, but it could certainly help in many respects. In addition, software companies need to realize that they, nor their products, are any more special than other consumer products. Yes, its easy to pirate software, and there needs to be a solution to preventing widespread easy pirating of software, but the current crop of EUL and their machavelian standards are out of hand.

    That’s a bit rambling but I think I got my thoughts across :)

  2. Interesting point. I think that the opposite trend is coming up – you’ll start to see EULAs coming with movies and music, as DRM techniques kick in. With software and its interactive nature, it’s easy to get the user to click OK to a binding contract – it’s conceptually more difficult to force an agreement from a user of movies/music. But they’ll find a way, I’m sure. Possibly in the manner of a shrinkwrap sticker ?

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