Hardest-to-understand EULA *ever* when you install WoW on GNU/Linux

While installing World of Warcraft on my Ubuntu Linux laptop (using the WINE compatibility software), I found myself confronted by this license agreement. Ain't that a pickle? I wonder if I'm bound by the license terms now that I clicked "Agree"?

Warcraft EULA under Ubuntu/WINE


  1. I think you’re absolutely bound by it, Cory. Or not at all, which in this case is exactly equivalent.

  2. Look into installing the Gecko rendering engine for Firefox. Anytime WoW needs to display html in Ubuntu, it uses Gecko.

  3. Hmmm… if the error were completely on their end — their programmers simply had no idea that Ubuntu couldn’t display fonts, for example — I would say that you are not bound to anything by clicking “I agree.” But if you simply don’t have the necessary technical requirements to see the EULA (the Gecko rendering engine mentioned above, for instance), then I’d say the burden was on your shoulders to read it and understand it.

    As an extreme example, if you just happened not to have any kind of monitor at all when you were installing, and so couldn’t see the license, you’d still be agreeing to the terms if you clicked “I agree.”

  4. End-lUser License Agreement?

    I believe you violated these terms, the moment you abstracted the installation on WINE and Linux, sir.

    That is if even contemplating such an action is not already an offense against some arcane interpretation of ‘intellectual property’ ‘law’.

  5. HOLTT @ #5
    Correct, but it also requires that he FedEx his firstborn child to Blizzard as well.

    Could be worse, could be an adjustable rate mortgage.

  6. with all those less than symbols, I’m pretty sure you just agreed to be utterly subservient to WOW.

  7. Yeah the big story here is that Cory’s started to play WoW. Might I suggest a belf paladin as a good first character. Paladins take a while to kill so they’re easy to learn on and the belfs have probably the best design for their starting areas.

  8. No, you’re not.
    If you are bound by a contract that isn’t rendered correctly, then they can say that anything.

    -“That contract you signed, said you would give us your fist born”
    -“No, it didn’t”
    -“Yes it did, it must not have been rendered correctly.!

  9. Curse in a public channel and they’ll ban you for a week or so, then make you pay for the time you can’t play.

    WoW = fun, but shitty in terms of getting what you’re paying for.

    Guy_Jin = correct.

  10. Well sh*t. Agree to it. It’s binding to them as well as you, and if that’s the agreement, you can pretty much do whatever you want.

  11. #6 @SamSam

    Are you a lawyer? I’m pretty sure you’re completely wrong about this. Contract law is pretty clear that both parties have to understand the contract they’re agreeing to in order to agree to it, in addition to a number of other burdens that are necessary for there to be a valid legal contract.

    There’s nothing in there about a burden on one side or the other to making it understandable – it’s either understood or it isn’t, and if it isn’t understood, it isn’t a contract.

    This is just another example of how ridiculous EULAs are, but I’m sure that was the point.

  12. @Cory

    “Are you a lawyer? I’m pretty sure you’re completely wrong about this. Contract law is pretty clear that both parties have to understand the contract they’re agreeing to in order to agree to it, in addition to a number of other burdens that are necessary for there to be a valid legal contract.”

    If you cannot understand the contract, I believe it is your legal duty not to sign/accept it. Otherwise, I could pirate anything with a EULA written in Spanish, since I do not read the language.

  13. Do you find the Wine works well for most games? For instance, do you think I would be able to install Spore on my laptop (also running Ubuntu 8.10) with no problem?


    Curse you, sir, for beating me to the Brainfuck reference. First thing I thought too.

    When executed, it outputs a string reading:

    By clicking the Agree button below, you agree that you understand and consent to be bound by a set of legal terms which, in the interest of brevity and elimination of needless legalese, we have chosen to represent by a token word carefully selected by our legal department: snorgish-plestule.

    Given that you will never, ever get play World of Warcraft like all your friends do if you decline, do you agree to snorgish-plestule?

  15. Those are orcish runes. You have just agreed to serve faithfully under the command of the Warchief for life.

  16. This reminds me of an only semi-related question. Once I saw a terms of use disclaimer for some website or another, I think. Anyway, you had to read it and say ‘you agree’.

    The problem was, they made it in a text-box format. So that if you wanted to, you could erase the entire agreement, or make changes, and _then_ click Agree. Which is pretty much what I did. Now since I can’t remember the place in question (or even what I changed it to), the point is mostly moot, but I always kind of wondered, from a legal standpoint (assuming I could prove what was capable of or what I had done), if I could be bound to an erased ‘agreement’, or if I had added something that benefitted me at the cost of them, could I hold them to the new agreement?

    Of course, I assume the real answer is “they can afford a huge team of lawyers and to drag it out in court indefinitely, you can’t, so no, you can’t hold them to anything.”

  17. Yeah I know, I play WOW on Ubuntu too using Cedega(WINE). I don’t know if I ran across that as I ignore the hell out of EULA’s. But I love the fact that no one complies with standards. Still I respect Blizzard for at least using OpenGL for their MORPG to be somewhat cross platform.

    Internally, Blizzard has a Linux client but they have stated that they do not have any plans to release it as they don’t believe the money is there… which of course they are right considering Linux has over 55% of the server market but only 2-3% of the desktop market.

  18. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis autem vel eum iriure dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse molestie consequat, vel illum dolore eu feugiat nulla facilisis at vero eros et accumsan et iusto odio dignissim qui blandit praesent luptatum zzril delenit augue duis dolore te feugait nulla facilisi. Nam liber tempor cum soluta nobis eleifend option congue nihil imperdiet doming id quod mazim placerat facer possim assum. Typi non habent claritatem insitam; est usus legentis in iis qui facit eorum claritatem. Investigationes demonstraverunt lectores legere me lius quod ii legunt saepius. Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum. Mirum est notare quam littera gothica, quam nunc putamus parum claram, anteposuerit litterarum formas humanitatis per seacula quarta decima et quinta decima. Eodem modo typi, qui nunc nobis videntur parum clari, fiant sollemnes in futurum.

    –Charlie (with apologies to ol’ Chickpea!)

  19. i’m with the WoW players, cory: “for the alliance” or “for the horde” ?? — and if you say what server you’re on, i for one would be satisfied with that. no need to divulge your character’s name or race. (maybe class would be nice, though, so we can all argue why it’s great or it sucks, haha). but your game time should be your own, so anything more identifiable than that isn’t necessary.

  20. Cory: I’m not a lawyer, but my reasoning was the same as Simon’s (#16). Just because you can’t understand a contract (because you don’t read Spanish/can’t understand legalese/don’t have the correct rendering engine installed) doesn’t mean that clicking “I agree” isn’t binding.

    The contract would still exist even if you turned off your computer’s ability to render any text what-so-ever.

  21. OMFG: Googling “Snorgish-plestule” shows up already.

    This page has ALREADY been vacuumed up by the Google overlords…! Somehow, it’s a little unsettling.

  22. @#18 Simon

    I think your Spanish example hits the nail on the head. There was a string of basically poorly translated text on the screen. The bottom line is that the actual code for the file of the EULA has not changed and thus remains the same no matter what system it is on. The fact that it showed up as random characters on your screen is simply a translating error on your part. Now you could argue that you were unaware of the need to translate it. However there are system requirements for games and pretty much always they say windows blah blah whatever on the sys reqs. So it would be easy for them to make the argument that you should have known what was needed to translate that file correctly.

    Agreeing to a contract by clicking “I Agree” assumes that you are fully aware of the content of the EULA. I think there’s no case here Cory, sorry but they’ve got you. They always do.

  23. @Genghazoid:

    WoW = fun, but shitty in terms of getting what you’re paying for.

    I know “value for the money” is subjective, however…

    For a month of WoW access, during which a typical player might spend between 8 and 80 (!) hours playing/socializing, you spend $16. Two people going to the movies one time for a 1.5 hour flick costs (around here) about $22. WoW is pretty cheap in terms of dollars spent per-unit-time entertained.

    At the end of every month I transfer what is left of my “disposable” income for that month into my savings account. This is money that in the past I would normally have spent on movies, other video games, bars, etc… Since I started playing WoW a year and a half ago, the amount I’ve saved in this way is about $6,000. My level of enjoyment in the activities I’ve partaken in hasn’t really changed, but I’ve got a pile of cash that I wouldn’t have had otherwise…. Seems like a bargain to me.

    Yeah, “going outside” is free. So there are still better “values” out there than WoW…. That doesn’t mean WoW isn’t a good value in my mind though. Besides, stuff I do outdoors ends up costing me a good deal in terms of equipment and gadgets (yes, I have a gadget problem), such that WoW ends up being cheaper than outdoorsy stuff. The library is free entertainment, but I do that as well, so it’s not an either/or proposition.

    It sucks that you got banned, and didn’t get to use the entertainment you paid for. However, if you don’t want to get banned, all you have to do is play by the rules. Then you’ll get 100% of what you paid for.

  24. Years ago I had a Windows laptop, where I’d set the colours scheme to white text on a black background.

    I installed some software package or another. It had an EULA, but the programmers had obviously hard-coded the text colour to black – without bothering to change the background colour, so it showed up as black on black.

    The Spanish example is a fair point, but it’s not necessarily applicable. If someone signed a contract that had an extra clause written in invisible ink, or printed in white-on-white, it seems unlikely it would hold up in court. No doubt that has been tested at some point by someone taking the “fine print” idea too far (microdot?)

    The gist of the contract presented in Cory’s case and in mine, is essentially this: “Do you agree to the following terms? [no terms]”. Seems pretty clear cut to me, and should be easy to get some sensible opinions from legal scholars on the lazyweb.

  25. @#32 You think that’s good? Try googling “OMFG: Googling “Snorgish-plestule” shows up already” ;)

  26. @IVAN256:

    YOU are already lost! ;D

    I really hope this, to compare the two very different acts of going out with a friend to see a movie, and playing an mmorpg, will not happen to my favorite author.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those crazy people who think gaming is a waste of time, I just think playing WOW is a waste of time. :P

  27. YOU are already lost! ;D

    I really hope this, to compare the two very different acts of going out with a friend to see a movie, and playing an mmorpg, will not happen to my favorite author.

    How so? If you ask me, playing WoW with said friend is more social and interactive than going to a movie, sitting in the dark not talking, with said friend. I’m not, after all, playing WoW alone. The same group of friends that I used to be “hanging out” with before all started playing WoW together.

    Be careful not to let the fact that it’s something new and different compared to what you’re used to doing in your free time lead to prejudice about what that activity is. Sure, you could say it’s “very different”. But the differences can be summed up as follows:

    – It’s more social and interactive in many cases.
    – There is additional physical distance between myself and the people I’m interacting with.

  28. @37

    “The Spanish example is a fair point, but it’s not necessarily applicable. If someone signed a contract that had an extra clause written in invisible ink, or printed in white-on-white, it seems unlikely it would hold up in court. No doubt that has been tested at some point by someone taking the “fine print” idea too far (microdot?)”

    The difference with these examples is that you are being presented with a contract which appears valid, but in fact contains undisclosed clauses. No reasonable person would suppose that the EULA rendered was the intended one, so they have the burden of installing the correct renderer, just as a person who cannot understand a contract’s legalese has the duty to hire a lawyer who can.

    Just as the law expects you to refuse to sign a contract you haven’t read, it also expects you to refuse to accept a EULA you cannot understand/render.

  29. @IVAN256:

    Be careful not to let the fact that it’s something new and different compared to what you’re used to doing in your free time lead to prejudice about what that activity is.

    Look, I’m 17, I grew up with games and I love online-gaming. I certainly have no prejudice about games. In fact people who say games make someone anti-social tend to make me aggressive. So don’t worry about the zeitgeist thing because I get it ;).
    I just hope, as I stated above, that Cory Doctorow wouldn’t end up comparing a movie, an art form that also happens to be entertaining and is often used as a pretext to go out, with WoW, a game I’m personally not very fond of (and I’m not saying games can’t be art!).

    So basically you got me wrong (my bad), it’s not about the activity itself, but about the game in particular.
    Now you don’t need to justify yourself for playing wow, and I hope no one will ever ask you to do so because it’s fine.

    So good night, and game on!

  30. Yes, Mr. Doctorow. If you wish to make use of our service, ò¤+RÄ…*UӴci⨭, you must abide by all requirements as stated in the Eula, including JªeUj•nP’ji”, êJjµjª¦”R$š„šb�, and especially clause 5: êûZW¦”R$š„šb�.

    Failure to do so will result in Ã¥{ý(¤EU/”T including all associated damages.

  31. Cory,
    Please write a book featuring a GNU Linux variant that automatically renders all Eulas as ” We the program makers promise to keep you the program purchaser, and all your buddies, in free beer for the rest of your lives. Please select ‘Agree/Not agree’ ”
    Then sit back and wait for the OS to appear.

  32. Does anybody actually take the time to read a EULA? Honestly, I probably would have clicked it without even noticing that there was a change. It’s a bad practice but, as long as you have reasonable belief that the company won’t screw you over (I do actually read the EA EULAs simply because they screw people over with their DRM-crippled material, for example), it wouldn’t be life-shattering not knowing anything about what’s in the EULA.

    In my opinion, I would have Googled it, either found what it said or find a solution that would render it correctly, and then see if you agree. I don’t think it should matter too much for WoW, considering that their rules are pretty much posted and complained about online, so it should be a safe company with a little research.

  33. #18, #31 and so on:

    sorry, they don’t “got you”. They really don’t. You can’t agree to a contract you can’t understand.

    Here’s what they can do:

    – kick you off of their game. For any of several reasons, including not meeting the system requirements or not agreeing to the contract (which they can now prove, since it’s posted on boingboing).

    – ban you

    – squelch you

    – put you in game prison

    – refuse to take your money

    But see, the thing is, they could do all that stuff anyway. It’s their game server. The contract is almost entirely meaningless, as it was in the first place. They put it there hoping it will keep you from suing them, but it won’t even do that; even if you fully understood the contract you agreed to, you can still advance an argument that Blizzard failed to fulfil its duties to you implied by the payment you make to them and/or spelled out by the contract. Cory being unable to read the contract makes no difference to Cory or to Blizzard, because EULA’s are nonsense in the first place, and Wine is just subversively making that fact obvious.

  34. largely off-topic…
    Last time I entered the US they gave me one of the normal immigration forms – have I been convicted of any crime, contracted any infectious diseases etc.

    … Followed by a few paragraphs in Spanish.

    Underscored by a declaration to the effect that
    “I certify that I have read and fully understand all of the above”

    Well, that was clearly a statement I could not legally make in good faith, as I simply did NOT understand the writing directly above it.

    Given the US Border Securities legendary sense of humor and sanity, I admit I eventually just capitulated and perjured myself like they wanted me to.

    I’ve pondered the legality of such “agreements” ever since. There was even a note forbidding me to strike out or modify the document – eg by crossing out the Spanish section.

    But I fooled them – I signed my first name (Daniel) in Spanish!

  35. It’s not that Cory doesn’t want to get bombarded with private tells, it’s that he’s embarrassed to show us his character’s name because it’s one of the ones where every letter has some weird diacritical mark.

    My guess: §tëåmpùnkzór.

  36. If it worked properly on Windows, I would say that you using a non-supported (by Blizzard) way of running WoW is your issue. You are just as bound (or not) by the EULA as you would be otherwise.

    I can’t skip the EULA on programs by making my own emulator not capable of displaying EULAs…

  37. @SAMSAM

    Even though the contract is THEIR on your system, the method the company gave you for READING the contract makes the contract illegible. And companies like theirs get VERY VERY ANGRY when you attempt to hack their code… even to get to their EULA just so you can read it.

    Second, their method for reading it does not provide a secondary place to read it in a plain text format. If they wish you to read and agree, they must supply it to you. If their program breaks and they are asking you to agree to ‘gibberish’, is it your fault that they did not supply a proper secondary source for reading should their primary source fail? Is it your fault, that they do not clearly provide a labelled link?

    As the owner and maintainer, it is their responsibility to protect themselves. You are not expected to protect them; you are an end user. And if your screen says ‘Do you solemnly swear to make peanut butter sandwiches for monkeys wearing tutu’s?’ rather than their normal EULA and you can show it was a normal install, then they have no legal recourse.

  38. Actually this is caused because you don’t have the right FONT on your system. You have said yourself that you installed a Windows application on linux using Wine. Wine doesn’t provide all the fonts needed. If you click on agreeing to the EULA you are expressely saying you HAVE read the EULA and you are in fact bound to it. You need to take it upon yourself to READ the EULA and agree to it.

    There are many applications that render jibberish or nothing at all because of a FONT not being available. Some games, such as Eve-Online you can’t even get working without the right font because you are forced to scroll down through the whole eula before you can agree, yet are unable to scroll down because the font isn’t rendering.

    It is up to you to read the EULA since you provided the non-standard installation platform. BLizzard cannot be held responsible for providing content to you if aren’t using the platform they intended for the product.

  39. I believe that roughly translated, that wall of text actually says “You have been eaten by a grue”.

  40. Personally I use QuadRot13 – if ROT13 is good, then QuadRot13 has to be better!

    Cory, at least you don’t have the moronic ‘first’ posts … I’m suggesting to blog owners to automatically delete ‘first’ posts – this elminates it as a problem. The person gets no recognition, and we don’t have to see it. such a deal.

    yeah I think you are stuck legally with this as a click through agreement. Much like not reading, not being ABLE to read it doesn’t absolve you. sadly.

  41. @SCOTLFS

    It is not up to the end user to read the license if the license is illegible and they have no way to get to a legible copy. They are NOT (NOR WILL THEY BE) expected by a court of law to go out of their way to attempt to find a license. If the license renders in gibberish, the end user accepts this as a software flaw and goes on.

    Software flaws are a natural part of modern software and it is up to the manufacturer to take into consideration ‘functional redundancy’. As a developer, I have to program for functional redundancy all the time. The fact that they did not do it for the license means they did not plan and as a result, they provided a loophole for people to use the software without agreeing to the license.

    It would be the same that screen never appeared at all. How is the end user supposed to know that isn’t the actual behaviour of the product? It’s a bug in the software and they are not responsible without the manufacturer providing additional ways for the end user to find and read the EULA.

Comments are closed.