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Computer: Operating System
EULA and TOS hider   (+4, -6)  [vote for, against]
Software to hide EULA and TOS

Clarification part:

A contract is an agreement between two parties and becomes binding when the agreement is made. If you think I've seen and signed/accepted your contract but I have not in fact done so, then your contract is not binding on me. After all, how can I be bound by a contract I've neither seen nor accepted? Hence, this idea acts to enable me not to see EULA and TOS forms of contract, and by not seeing them not be bound by them.

Original idea text:

Many bits of software, websites, etc. have End User License Agreements and Terms of Service which are not clearly stated at the point of purchase or initial access.

Some people think this is fine, but I don't.

It is fundamental to a contract that it is an agreement between two parties, and there's no way to reach an agreement with a computer screen. There's no way in which you can object to a term, or ask for something to be clarified and send it back for revision.

The salesperson in the store should have to explain the terms of the agreement to each customer, answer all questions about it, negotiate any changes and adjust the price if required, and get both parties to sign it before allowing the sale.

The way to bring in this age of honesty in licensing is to make sure that these hidden term systems are useless.

This is through EULA and TOS hider. This is a bit of software which intercepts all text which looks like an EULA or a TOS and replaces it with "No terms and conditions here mate".

This can be done for CD/DVD installations by forming an image of the disk, editing out any such texts, mounting the new disk, and hiding the old disk from the OS.

Internet installations should be handled by intercepting downloads in the same way that virus scanners do it. In this case, instead of scanning for a virus, it is scanning for terms and removing them.

Website-based terms can be removed via a browser plugin.
-- vincevincevince, Feb 16 2008


Instead why don't you propose the legal changes that would actually protect your rights as you see them? Isn't anything else childish?
-- WcW, Feb 16 2008

(-) Yeah, that legal reasoning behind this doesn't work for me, either, not even long enough to be a joke.
-- jutta, Feb 16 2008

No. There should just be some requirement for clear English and a general tendency towards GPL and the like, depending on the situation (e.g. a starving programmer versus a huge MNC). Otherwise you'd have no idea what naff gunge ends up on your hardware.
-- nineteenthly, Feb 16 2008

People frequently "agree" to nasty things being installed on their computers or nasty things happening to their personal data by clicking on "I agree" without having read or understood the EULA. This seems to be the main problem. Whereas it is foolish to do this, the EULA is sometimes obfuscated or very long, discouraging people from reading it, and not everyone has either a law degree or the sufficient lack of a life to plough through the whole thing (though i personally always have read it all). If it were online beforehand, which actually it sometimes is, that would still leave the problem of long-winded and obscure language. That is the major issue as i see it, and this can be changed by some sort of test or standard for clear language.
-- nineteenthly, Feb 16 2008

Not to mention being vaguge and broad reaching. EULA's will have their day, like liability waivers did in the ninties. Everything you touch will have one or two, then they will start to hold less and less legal water as we realiz e that much legal software was produced by violating the EULA of other software. Some of these are so broad reaching (if you use this software you are agreing never to design or talk about anything similar untill you die) that they are laughable.

We need the government to protect our rights as creators and innovators more than it protects our rights as shareholders if we are going to compete with other creators and innovators in contries where there are no protections at all.
-- WcW, Feb 16 2008

Yes, i know what you mean. I wonder how many EULAs are really unavailable online, because some are on the company websites and some of the others, particularly contentious ones, are easily found by Googling - for instance, i just found Kazaa and RealPlayer immediately with no trouble. People could Google the EULA/ToS before they download or join anything. That wouldn't solve the problem of trying to follow the interminable twistings and turnings of the language.

[WcW], i really hope you're right. I think you might be, actually.
-- nineteenthly, Feb 16 2008

I've tried to clarify things at the beginning of the idea. I feel that many annotators have missed the point and the basis of the idea. This isn't some kind of criticism on EULAs but a way in which you can legally avoid being bound by them but still be unimpeded in your use of the software.
-- vincevincevince, Feb 20 2008

IANAL, but i would imagine that this would be the same as signing a contract without reading it, which is still binding. If you actually installed something which did this yourself, it would be the same, legally. However, i can see a way around it. If it was a program which installed itself silently and unknown to the user, i.e. a virus, and replaced the EULA with GPL, it would not then be the user's fault they hadn't read the terms and conditions. That might be a way of doing it. It would probably bring the anger of the Man down on you with some force if you were responsible for that and could be traced, but it would probably be quite an altruistic thing to do.

The point is, you would have to have it on your computer without realising it was there.
-- nineteenthly, Feb 20 2008

//a person cannot be guilty of an offence// Whilst your argument is true in the case of law, [boysparks], it does not hold for a contract. A contract needs to be made in order for it to have any force; and provided that you have not signified your acceptance of the contract in any way then I don't see how it can have any force. It remains just a draft of a contract for your consideration until you have agreed to it...
-- vincevincevince, Feb 21 2008

I am so far from being a lawyer that it's just not true, but there is a legal concept of willful blindness, which is the attempt to avoid liability, including civil liability, by deliberately preventing oneself from being aware of facts which would render one liable. If someone intentionally installs anything on their computer knowing that it will prevent them from being aware of ToS's or EULAs, and they then click on "I agree" or whatever, they are liable, and this does apply in contract law as well as other areas, and in civil agreements. Therefore, if there is mens rea, one really is liable.

This doesn't alter the fact that there is a way round it if something gets installed without the user's knowledge. The best way of doing this would be through some kind of security hole by a virus-like program. So, i do believe your idea could work, but to have legal force it has to be on the computer without the user believing there is anything unusual about the terms and conditions to which they are then agreeing. So yes, it can be done, but not by the user (unless they get dementia or something).
-- nineteenthly, Feb 21 2008

In legal circles this is known as the fingers-in ears "LaLaLaLaLa" defence.
-- hippo, Feb 21 2008

I don't think you could prove that you *didn't* see the terms and conditions...

However, since I assume that mostly they all say pretty much the same thing, perhaps there could be an executive summary somewhere (on the web) that points out the unusual terms, if any.
-- Ling, Feb 21 2008

They don't say the same thing. If they did, you'd have some idea of what you were letting yourself in for. They sometimes slip in nasty stuff about spyware and so on.
-- nineteenthly, Feb 21 2008

In that case, it would appear as an unusual term in an executive summary, wouldn't it? The summary would be best maintained by an independent body, which probably brings its own problems (responsibility etc.), but I wonder if anything based on the Wiki idea might work out.
-- Ling, Feb 21 2008

That more or less exists already, because there's a lot of online attention to these issues, so all anyone really needs to do is Google it, maybe by putting "<application name> sucks" into the search box, and there you go. However, a wiki for it would be a great idea!
-- nineteenthly, Feb 21 2008

Why not insist that only very limited protections be provided to software and intellectual property generally? Something that protects authors from outright piracy but doesn't punish innovation. A new piece of software could be examined for the degree of novelty it shows and issued a new copyright. True also for any content or redistribution, if the mode or delivery is changed significantly then it is novel content and should be given it's own rights. Throw this end user contractual crap out the window. The little guy would have a better than fighting chance if they could turn Windows(quicktime, photoshop, etc.) into a better product.
-- WcW, Feb 21 2008

I always use open source stuff anyway, if i can, which gets round the problem.
-- nineteenthly, Feb 21 2008

// However, since I assume that mostly they all say pretty much the same thing, perhaps there could be an executive summary somewhere (on the web) that points out the unusual terms, if any. //

Baked: ToS;DR (but it doesn't work well)
-- notexactly, Mar 07 2018

random, halfbakery