If you have ever used a computer, (we are reading this on the thing called the Internet) you must be aware of the legal term ‘End User Licensing Agreement’. In short, EULA is prescribed terms and conditions which we all agree with before installing the software or subscribing to a service. The EULA is basically a legal contract between an end user and a vendor highlighting what they can and cannot do with the software they have just acquired. It is also known as the software license agreement in which the user obtains a license to use the software under the terms and conditions of the EULA provided to them.
When the EULA window pops up, users have to go through 100s of pages of long terms and condition sheets which are uniquely mannered into small fonts and multiple tables. EULA can simply be referred as the Do’s and Don’ts of the software or any internet subscription service. Although there had been some controversies over whether these agreements are enforceable, several courts have upheld their legitimacy. 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 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. Sometimes, the consumers are not even given choices to read legal terms of a software. The screen simply says ‘by using this software you agree to the Terms & Conditions presented in the End User License Agreement’.
Sections of an EULA
- Grant of license
- Licensing restrictions
- Audit Rights
- Limitation of liability
Grant of license allows a user to use the software with certain restrictions. It highlights the term of usage ie. for home or commercial purpose. One of the key vocabulary terms in this part of the EULA are these words – ‘non-exclusive’ and ‘non-transferable’. They mean that by accepting the EULA you agree not to sell, share, distribute or sublicense the software. Licensing restrictions are enforced on users of the service. The user subscription may be terminated if the software guidelines are not adhered to. Another important section is ownership. It is to be noted that the end user doesn’t own the software at any given point, but she is only given the right of usage.
The software company (vendor) has the right to review or audit the software at any instance. If the contract found void, the vendor can terminate the end users license without providing a notice period. The warranty and damages section indicate in a legal form that there is no warranty or damages to be paid to the end user by the vendor. You get what you pay for. If a bug or any damages appear, users need to contact support team or self-repair. If the end user system faces break down due to a product, the cost of repair shall be borne by the end user and not by the vendor.
The original purposes of EULA agreements are to protect Intellectual Property Rights and to legally safeguard the software providing company. EULAs are mostly generic and almost all users including me skip through it. EULA document creators make sure that the content is precise and boring so that the end users skip it completely. These agreements are mostly undemocratic as the text suggest that the end user is not permitted to criticize the product in public nor the end user has the rights to test the service with industry competent. By clicking on ‘I Agree’, you are giving full rights to the vendor to track your activities and location and even information.
Using this product means you are monitored. Cyber experts are of opinion that hackers may get into your system by signing the modified version of EULA. I am not gonna tell you to read EULA agreements, but users must keep vigil approach while using a software or any internet related service.
– Chaitanya Kulkarni.