The British National Consumer Council has decried the business practices of 17 software companies whose EULAs contain abusive and unfair language. The companies include Microsoft, Adobe and Symantec, and the Council's objections include the EULAs' contents as well as the fact that the terms of the EULA are not visible on the outside of the box, so you don't find out what you've agreed to until you've already paid for it and brought it home.
I'd love to see a law that said any EULAs had to be printed on the packaging in 12-point type, which would leave software companies with two choices — enormous, threatening boxes covered in dense legal type; or short, simple, fair license agreements that could fit comfortably in a couple lines on the side of the package.
"Software rights-holders are shifting the legal burden on to consumers who buy computer programmes, leaving them with less protection than when they buy a cheap Biro," said Carl Belgrove of the NCC.
"Consumers can't have a clue what they're signing up to when some terms and conditions run to 10 or more pages.
"There's a significant imbalance between the rights of the consumer and the rights of the holder," he added.
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