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End User License Agreements...

Just wanting some comments from people who have created there own software, and included an End User License Agreement. I would think the inclusion of one is pretty standard, however short of hiring a lawyer who specialises in these, what are my options?

- Are EULA’s subject to copyright, ie could I just copy one and make any changes that I feel nessecary?

- Is it feasible to sit down, review a few others, and write it myself?

- Are there any open-source type EULA’s around (ie free more me to take and use)?

- Do I need an EULA at all? I mean, I have doubts that I will be suing anybody, so the only use I could see would be as some sort of disclaimer…

I know there will be a lot of ‘hire a lawyer’ suggestions, but I am not interested in hiring a lawyer, I guess working for accountants has jaded my opinion on the legal profession, I mean just how much money will I need to spend to make the EULA airtight (and if it is not airtight then I might as well have written it myself)?

[Okay, I confess I am writing a piece of software, so all my posts lately have had the same theme. However I think the ‘theme’ is pretty on topic for this forum]

Aussie Chick
Monday, February 23, 2004

Just copy Microsoft's, ya know, "We know this POS software of ours has bugs all over the place, but hey, we can't be bothered to find and fix them all unless enough customers scream at us to do so."

Homeslice
Monday, February 23, 2004

Get the appropriate book from Nolo Press; they have all the agreements you could ever want.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Monday, February 23, 2004

http://www.nolo.com/lawstore/products/product.cfm/ObjectID/2C02C865-21E7-497C-9DDDBA058175FFA1/catid/2EB060FE-5A4B-4D81-883B0E540CC4CB1E

Thanks for that.

Aussie Chick
Monday, February 23, 2004

<Noting that Nolo is a U.S. and not an Aussie site.>

Christopher Wells
Monday, February 23, 2004

You might also want to read this, though, ...

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0471318264

...which asserts that EULAs are not binding because they're not disclosed at purchase time.

i.e. If the box or web page says "This software will vacuum your house for you" and so you buy it, but then when you install, the EULA says "not responsible if this software fails to vacuum anything", the box/web page promise will stand up in court over the EULA because the EULA wasn't disclosed at time of purchase.

(Side note:  I used this argument once to get my money back on a supposedly nonrefundable CompUSA gift card.  On the back it said something like "after a year we'll start stealing $2.50/month off this card's value till it's empty"; but you couldn't see that until you'd bought the card and peeled it off the cardboard thingy.

Back at the store, I pointed out that I didn't agree with these terms and had no way to be aware of them before purchasing.  I got my refund.)

Kyralessa
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

You got your money back probably because even to discuss with you cost them more than to shrink-wrap the card again and to sell it to somebody else.

coresi
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Probably it did, but I did have to talk to three different people before they consented.

Kyralessa
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Well I'm happy you asked, because I needed to know the answer myself, albeit not quite yet!

So thanks....

Dave Hallett
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I live in Finland, and just a few months ago there was a big case in our supreme court where the software EULA's were found not binding to the end user. Don't know about other countries, but at least here the "normal" law about buying and selling applies to software as well as a hammer or a motorbike.

Antti Kurenniemi
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Hi

- Are EULA’s subject to copyright, ie could I just copy one and make any changes that I feel nessecary?

They *are* copyright so you shouldn't really do this.

- Is it feasible to sit down, review a few others, and write it myself?

Yes, although it's a bit mind-numbing.

- Are there any open-source type EULA’s around (ie free more me to take and use)?

The GPL and LGPL were designed for this purpose.

- Do I need an EULA at all? I mean, I have doubts that I will be suing anybody, so the only use I could see would be as some sort of disclaimer…

If you give away your software there's no consideration and therefore no contract so I don't think you could be sued (as long as your software isn't something deliberately harmful).

- I know there will be a lot of ‘hire a lawyer’ suggestions, but I am not interested in hiring a lawyer, I guess working for accountants has jaded my opinion on the legal ...

The EULA I used in Lingo cost about AS$400, although this was some years back. An initial short interview shouldn't cost anything, surely?

Hope this helps
Bill

Bill Rayer
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I've been involved in editing our license agreement.  Fortunately, we have stakeholders involved at the technical, business, sales, and legal perspectives.  Everyone has their own idea of what should be included.

The trick is in hashing out a license that is sufficiently protective of your rights without unduly limiting what the customer is permitted to do.  Consider how you want to be protected, and what you want to allow the customer to do.  That should be your basis.

I recommend hiring a good lawyer to look over whatever you come up with.  He will be able to spot the legal flaws which you won't (unless you have legal training).

Should be working
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

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