Time to get EULAgising

We all know we should read an end user license agreement (EULA) before installing software, but even the most diligent amongst us will find our brains starting to protest vigorously after the first two or so pages of legalise, before persuading us scroll to the end and just click “I agree”.

Life is just too short, especially when companies such as Claria make their licensing agreements an impenetrable 50+ pages long.

EULA’s are, however, important, as they are used by less reputable companies (read adware and spyware vendors) to hide terms and conditions that no sane user would normally accept. That “free” piece of software wouldn’t sound so tempting if you knew that your system was also going to be constantly plagued with porn pop-ups.

Even well-known companies, such as Sony BMG, have terms in their license agreements that might shock you.

When the Sony DRM rootkit scandal prompted the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to take a close look at the terms of the EULA on Sony CDs, it found that, amongst a long list of onerous terms, if you should have the misfortune to file for bankruptcy Sony demands that you delete all your music.

There are, however, a number of tools that can help you fight back. One such example is EULAlyzer which scans the licensing agreement looking for suspicious words or phrases that point towards unwanted consequences such as pop-up ads and the transmission of personally identifiable data.

A new website called EULAscan is looking to take a different approach by harnessing the power of the online community to create a central reference point where people can post reviews of the EULAs that they have encountered.

The website is in its early days so is short of reviews at the moment but given time, and with enough support, it could become a valuable resource, so get posting :-)