Ed Foster on Kafka-esque EULAs [1:22 pm]
“You can contact any of these manufacturers and request copies of the EULA prior to purchase,” wrote one reader. “Even if you don’t have a computer, you can phone, or write to obtain a copy of a EULA. Not being able to read it before purchase was her (the plaintiff’s) own fault, for not thinking logically.”
Actually, the reader is wrong about that, particularly concerning Microsoft’s practices and philosophy before this lawsuit was filed. Back when UCITA was being drafted, Microsoft representatives and their cohorts from the Business Software Alliance were particularly adamant that software publishers should not be required to present license terms before purchase, even in online transactions where it’s simple to do. And, it so happens, in 2002 I went through the exercise of calling Microsoft — as a prospective customer, not a journalist — to ask that they send me the EULA for one of its products that was not to be found on their website. They ultimately refused to email, mail, or fax it to me, saying it was their policy that customers could only see the EULA after purchasing the product.
At the same time back in 2002, I also checked the websites of other major software publishers to see how many of them made their EULAs available. With a single exception, none put their license agreements in a place where a visitor to their website would be likely to find it.