The Stuff People Agree To

Have you heard of an end user license agreement (EULA)? You probably have. It’s a contract you agree to when you install most non-open source applications. Most people just click “I Accept” and move on with their lives without reading it. Of course sometimes the damndest things are agreed to like the Immortal Souls clause inserted by a online shopping site to make a point:

By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non-transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from or one of its duly authorised minions.

Well Sony, no stranger to being complete asshats, an interesting clause in their EULA (I bring it up now because people started talking about it but this has been in the EULA for some time):

From time to time, SCE may provide updates, upgrades or services to your PS3™ system to ensure it is functioning properly in accordance with SCE guidelines or provide you with new offerings.

Some services may be provided automatically without notice when you are online, and others may be available to you through SCE’s online network or authorized channels. Without limitation, services may include the provision of the latest update or download of new release that may include security patches, new technology or revised settings and features which may prevent access to unauthorized or pirated content, or use of unauthorized hardware or software in connection with the PS3™ system.

Additionally, you may not be able to view your own content if it includes or displays content that is protected by authentication technology. Some services may change your current settings, cause a loss of data or content, or cause some loss of functionality. It is recommended that you regularly back up any data on the hard disk that is of a type that can be backed up.

Translated in to standard English it means Sony can push updates out to your system without requiring you to accept it or having to notify you that they’re doing it. If the update bricks your system that’s your problem and you’ll have to pay to get it fixed. Likewise they can erase any data on your system they please without notification and giving you no recourse.

Of course I’m just using Sony as a punching bag at the moment because their asshats. In truth many companies have similar clauses in their EULAs. Which is the point I’m trying to make here. Most people have no idea what they’re agreeing to when they click that “I Accept” button on the EULA window.

Let’s bring up another example, iTunes. Did you know that you can’t use iTunes to develop, design, manufacture, or produce missiles, or nuclear, chemical or biological weapons? Well you can’t because you agreed to the EULA.

What I’m really trying to drive home is this, read every contract you sign and every EULA you agree to. The shit that gets snuck in is absurd. It’s shit like this that pushes me towards free open-source software more and more every day.