Thursday, 30 July 2009

EULA and cars - an analogy

Let's say that you've just bought a shiny new car. It's your pride and joy, and you've spent weeks researching the market just to find the perfect model. You've been to the showroom; you've grimaced at the lousy 'complimentary' coffee and you've shook hands and laid out your hard-earned. After waiting what seems like an eternity it's pick up day.

So you're stood there with the new car gleaming in front of you and you're itching to get in and hear the roar of the engine. The salesman is there with the keys and you reach out your trembling hand to take them...

However the saleman then says:

"Before I allow you to use this car, you must agree to these terms

(i) you can't sell it on to anybody else

(ii) whenever you drive it, it can transmit its location and what music you're listening to on the radio to a central location and they can use that information for whatever they like.

(iii) and you must come back here for warranty and services and not go anywhere else

If you don't agree to these terms then you musn't use the key to start the car and you need to go to talk to the manufacturer about a refund"

And then he walks off leaving the keys in a locked box with a button on it marked 'I accept the terms".

You wouldn't stand for that. You'd explode with rage. You never agreed to those terms when you laid out your money. How dare they. You'd be onto trading standards in a flash. You'd demand that the retailer drops those terms instantly.

So why do you meekly accept this situation when you buy an operating system to run on a computer?