End User License Agreement

There comes a time in every successful software project that one must establish one’s rights. It seems that what lots of people do is find some other company’s agreement and copy it and put their own company name in. They are pirating the anti-piracy language. That can’t help their case in the long term. Also there are templates you can buy with all the necessary legalese, but even they do not hold up in court, apparently. (As an aside, some companies sneak some pretty nasty stuff into those agreements, allowing them to install spyware and giving themselves rights to your work product). The fact that no one reads them and everyone knows no one reads them undermines their validity. Or something like that. I’m no lawyer.

Therefore I have decided to write my own End Users License Agreement, and being a fundamentally lazy person, I have decided to also make that agreement my blog entry for the evening as well:

By accepting this agreement you promise not to be a scumbag software pirate robbing hard-working programmers of their livelihood. I’m not doing this for my health, you know. You are welcome to install Jer’s Novel Writer on any machines you own as an individual. Corporations do not have that right. If you’re part of some giant novel factory you need to pay for a copy for each machine.

Heck, let’s just be reasonable here. Jer’s Software Hut (the Hut) is depending on people like you who know the right thing to do. You know the difference between sharing and stealing (sharing good, stealing bad). If you need to ask a lawyer if it’s OK to do what you want to do, it probably isn’t. Why bother? The lawyer will cost you more than dealing directly with the Hut anyway.

Just to make it clear, while you can buy a license to use this software till the cows come home, Jer’s Software Hut owns the code. It would be silly to do anyway, but you’re promising now that you won’t try to reverse-engineer Jer’s Novel Writer or incorporate any subset of it into some other product without express written permission from the Hut.

I will give you the right, however, to make as many copies of this agreement as you want, and modify it and use or sell it to your heart’s content. If you publish it somewhere, I would appreciate credit. (I can see my EULA-writing career blossoming now.)

Heck, you’re not reading this anyway. I don’t know why I bother. I could put in that I have the rights to anything you create with this software, and you wouldn’t notice. You’ve already clicked “accept” like a good little robot. I’m glad I went with the cheap lawyer.

It’s not the final wording, but it’s close. I would be happy to consider any contributions you might have to offer. I think after I have a couple of beers I’ll be improving some parts.

There is actually a reason I use the tone I do (besides just for fun) – I know that no matter what the EULA says, it’s only as powerful as the lawyers I hire to defend it. I’m trying for a moral protection of my work, rather than a legal one. And if I ever did have to defend my rights in court, I think a reminder to the jury that stealing is stealing no matter what legal mumbo-jumbo they hear can only help me.

9 thoughts on “End User License Agreement

  1. Where is says “I’m not doing this for my health” I originally said “I’m not Bill Frickin’ Gates”.

  2. you might want to say “Businesses do not have that right” instead of corporations. other than that i think it’s great.

    joey (who is sooo gonna be stealing this software)

  3. I was always surprised that software writers made it so easy to check the accept button without actually reading the agreement. Originally, I expected a little box by each paragraph that you had to check to prove you were reading the agreement before accepting. Since there isn’t, I’m suspicious about your comment that these things don’t hold up in court. I wonder if the reverse is true…they are such accepted boiler plate it doesn’t matter if the user read it. The “acceptor” is bound, no ifs ands or buts.

  4. Licences are an interesting beast. Years ago I read an interesting article about the power of the EULA, as perfected by Microsoft. The details are hazed by time and fallible memory. But the gist was that the writer was questioning the paradigm of the EULA. He said it was overly powerful, that it went beyond the accepted power of other protections such as patents or copyroghts, and it left the end user too vulnerable. Nobody owned their software, it is always subject to being taken back by the maker. CONT..

  5. CONTINUING… So I’m torn. The article basically indicted the eula as “the consumer has none of the rights and the corporations have all of the rights.” And as a consumer I’m down with that indignation. At the same time, I’d like for my buddy to be rewarded for his creativity in making this software. I think the wholesome, high fiber-low fat cake is the concept that patents, eulas, and copyrights reward and recognize creativity. Then Microsoft comes along and ices that cake with market control, abusive punishments, unclear sunset clauses, and who knows what else. Now I vill vait for zirty zeconds…

  6. Unfortunately, I think being recognized and rewarded for your creativity means you have to be smart. There was a case where a corporation commissioned a sculptor to make sculpture for their office complex. When it was done and installed they didn’t like a certain aspect. They had another artist change the statue. The original artist, sued and lost, because he was no longer the “owner.” I have to give credit to software engineers…they protect their ideas much better.

    As a side note, if I ever hit the lottery, I hope I give a reward to the estate (he’s now dead) of the fellow who drew the disco era yellow smiley face. He didn’t think to copyright it.

    Society should recognize artists in spite of themselves. :)

  7. Certainly I’m no expert on EULA’s. I understand that some companies have tried and failed to enforce theirs in court.


    I have also read the Microsoft and many others have put in quite outrageous restrictions. Apple, when it first introduced iDisk (it look like another hard drive on your computer, but it’s actually on their servers – really nice to have), they had a clause that said that anything on your iDisk belonged to them. People howled, and they quickly changed it, and said it had never been their intent to take anyone’s stuff, it was just an overly protective lawyer. I am about to make a modification to the EULA as I have it now.

  8. The goal with my EULA is not to protect myself legally as much as morally. I want people to think about theft in terms of right and wrong, not what they can get away with.

  9. Bravo on the EULA. It’s the best I’ve seen. My old lawyer — may he rest in peace — would have loved it.

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