Friday, February 18, 2005

The Dark Side of UX

I'm talking about EULAs—those End User License Agreements, dense in type and legal mumbo-jumbo that you have to agree with to use the software you just bought.

Our heroes at the Electronic Frontier Foundation just released a very helpful and user-friendly User's Guide to EULAs ideal for a UXCentrist's bag of tricks.

It begins with this chilling pronouncement:
These days, EULAs are ubiquitous in software and consumer electronics -- millions of people are clicking buttons that purport to bind them to agreements that they never read and that often run contrary to federal and state laws. These dubious "contracts" are, in theory, one-on-one agreements between manufacturers and each of their customers. Yet because almost every computer user in the world has been subjected to the same take-it-or-leave-it terms at one time or another, EULAs are more like legal mandates than consumer choices. They are, in effect, changing laws without going through any kind of legislative process. And the results are dangerous for consumers and innovators alike.
To help hapless users like us, the EFF examines and explains six common terms in EULAs, suggests ways to fight the most egregious terms, discusses TOS (Terms of Service Agreements, the likewise-evil cousin of EULAs) and provides a list of resources for more information. Check it out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Contract of Adhesion:
A legal term for contracts that are offered by one party to another on a take-it-or leave-it basis, where one party really has no ability to negotiate the terms of the contract. Can be attributed to "shrink-wrap" agreements, and standard form contracts.

In general, courts are likely to consider interpreting standard contracts "contra proferentem" (against the profferor ) in the US, depending on the jurisdiction.

See for example:

6:39 PM  

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