10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed To

image36   10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed ToLet’s be honest, no one reads EULA’s (End User Licensing Agreement) – we all just scroll down to the bottom and click “I Accept”. EULAs are full of confusing legalese to make them incomprehensible to the average person – no one actually wants us reading them (you could use EULAlyzer, which reads them for you). That explains how these ridiculous clauses can exist in EULAs without any outcry.

I’m no lawyer, so I can’t comment on the legal status of EULAs, which are different in each country. But the enforceability of EULAs is generally controversial, and some of these clauses would likely be tossed out by a judge, even if EULAs were legally enforceable.

 iTunes – No Creating Nuclear Weapons

Apple’s iTunes EULA expressively forbids you from using iTunes to create missiles and biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons.

itunes nuclear   10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed To

Are there hidden weapon development options in iTunes? Even if there were, would terrorists be thwarted by not wanting to violate the EULA?

Safari For Windows – You Can’t Install It On Windows

For six months after it was released, Apple had the following clause in Safari for Windows’ EULA:

safari windows   10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed To

Apple was pushing Safari for Windows via Apple Update, but you were only supposed to install it if you were running Windows on an Apple computer. The fact that this term made it into the EULA – and lasted for six months before it was noticed – shows how everyone, including Apple itself, ignores EULAs.

Google Chrome – Google Owns You

Like Apple, Google wasn’t paying attention to its EULA when it launched the Chrome web browser. When it was released, the EULA contained the following clause:

…you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

The EULA clarified that Google Chrome was indeed considered a “service.” According to the clause, Google claimed a perpetual license to publish and publically display your online banking passwords and everything else you did online.

Google quickly removed the offending clause. It’s clear that Google had just copy-pasted an existing EULA into Chrome without actually reading it.

Far Cry 2 – Enforced Morality

Far Cry 2’s EULA prevents you from using the game “contrary to morality or the laws in force“. Whose morality, exactly? Some groups would say it’s immoral to play a violent video game at all.

To make it nice and easy to read, this EULA is helpfully presented as a small, light gray text on a dark gray background.

image38   10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed To

Microchip – We’ll Show Up At 3.00am & Audit You

Microchip’s MPLAB X used to contain the following line in its EULA:

Microchip’s authorized representatives will have the right to reasonably inspect, announced or unannounced and in its sole and absolute discretion, Licensee’s premises and to audit Licensee’s records and inventory of Licensee’s use of the Software, whether located on Licensee’s premises or elsewhere, at any time, in order to ensure Licensee’s adherence to the terms of this Agreement.

In other words, Microchip reserved the right to knock on your door at 3.00am and immediately audit you to ensure compliance with its software licensing agreement.

PC Pitstop – $1,000 For Free

To prove a point that no one reads EULAs, PC Pitstop once had the following clause in its EULA:

pcpitstop eula   10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed To

It took four months before someone noticed and claimed a $1,000 prize.

Microsoft Windows – The OEM Restriction Retailers Ignore

Let’s say you want to buy a copy of Windows. You might think that you could head to NewEgg or another retailer and buy one of the popular copies of Windows, but you’d be wrong.

Look closely and you’ll see the “OEM” tag on each of these operating systems. OEM means it’s for an “original equipment manufacturer” and can only be installed on one computer – ever. At one time, Microsoft allowed hobbyists building their own PCs to purchase and install OEM versions of Windows. The actual license agreement no longer allows this, but many Microsoft representatives continue endorsing it.

image39   10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed To

The disclaimer hidden on the Details tab informs us that this product is only for people installing Windows on a PC and then selling the PC.

windows oem2   10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed To

If you buy one of these copies, you’re violating the Windows license agreement and will have a “non-genuine” version of Windows. According to the EULA, you might as well be a pirate.

Ed Bott over at ZDNet has chronicled this problem and the contradictory information provided by Microsoft.

Sony & EA – No Class Action Lawsuits

If you accepted the PlayStation Network’s new terms and conditions when it updated back in September, you agreed to this:

Any Dispute Resolution Proceedings, whether in arbitration or court, will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class or representative action…

In other words, by agreeing to this mandatory update, you signed away your right to a class action lawsuit (if that’s legally possible). You can opt out by sending a physical letter to Sony, something just inconvenient enough that very few people will do it – if they even read the EULA in the first place.

The EULA for EA’s Origin includes the same language.

All Over the Place – Only One Backup Copy

image41   10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed To

Many EULAs stipulate that you may only have one backup copy. Do you use a backup program, like Apple’s Time Machine or Windows Backup? You could be violating several EULAs.

Practically Everywhere – The EULA May Change At Any Time

image42   10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed To

Many EULAs reserve the right to change at any time, so it doesn’t really matter what the EULA says when you read it. I hope you’re periodically monitoring the terms of use of every website you use, since they all expect you to!

xkcd eula   10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed To

I’m sure there are many more ridiculous EULA clauses out there, but no one reads the EULAs to find them. Do any of you actually read EULAs? Have you found other ridiculous clauses in them?

Image Credits: Annoyed Businessman via Shutterstock, XKCD: Faust 2.0

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62 Comments -

0 votes

John

LOL ! and then they ask themselves why people hate them ?

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

People are just indifferent to them, which is what they’re counting on! We all click agree anyway.

Lawyers seem to think it will give them cover, but who really knows.

0 votes

Richard

Not just EULA’s either, this is something that’s prolific right through big businesses and governments. It’s staggering what they can get away with simply because people don’t really pay attention to what they are being told.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Good point — people don’t really read a lot of contracts.

It would be really nice to have simple, easy-to-understand, one-page contracts for things — but then the lawyers would be out of work.

0 votes

Nik Gibson

Well it is 99% written by solicitors for other solicitors to comprehend. And stuff the rest of the world reading it.

Note: By reading this comment you have released the writer of this comment of any violation of misinterpretation by the reader and if the comment offends anyone then tough luck, as no offence were intended on any third parties mentioned in item of this particular comment.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Oh no! Yet another EULA I’ve agreed to.

Yours is as legitimate as website usage agreements, really.

0 votes

Toby

Nice real nice. I’m gonna start reading every EULA now. This is the same thing that happens on mail in rebates. they put them there because you won’t actually read the receipts or whatever. I needed a bottle of oil 1 day and paid ~$3 for it. I read the receipt and it offered a mail in rebate for $10 if I just sent the receipt in. Took forever to get the money though.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

The thing is, many of these clauses are completely unenforcable and would be thrown out in court. So you don’t really have to worry too much — but it’s amazing what companies are trying to do here.

0 votes

Anonymous

You’d have to read privacy policies for every single website you visit though. That might be hard.

0 votes

Susendeep Dutta

I’m actually interested in reading EULAs to make sure that I don’t give any such permission to the company so that they can breach my privacy,collect any anonymous data or whatever any legal action they can take against me.But since they are long,I only used to read the bold capital letter words and liabilities section of EULA.

There was an article in MUO which also gave me some tips regarding how to easily learn EULA and get acquainted with it which has improved my EULA reading.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Sadly, they’re long on purpose to make them less readable and more incomprehensible.

0 votes

Kathy Banks

Nice, I just downloaded that program to read EULA’s..this is very handy. This can also read disclaimers on websites, as well.

0 votes

Mitesh Budhabhatti

I think this could be the one reason why people do piracy.. You never know what action causes clause to be broken !!

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Especially with Windows — hey, according to Microsoft, those OEM licenses of Windows that most everyone is buying from NewEgg are all “non-genuine” anyway, right? That’s the same thing as piracy.

The only difference is that they would be detected as genuine and no one would ever notice.

I wonder if Microsoft will learn when it comes to the Windows 8 licenses.

0 votes

Adam

Let’s hope not :)

0 votes

Achraf52

They could not stop them .

0 votes

edarchis

The translation of EULAs are even more fun. I once found a site where the French EULA specified “annuler ma membrésie”, should be “cancel my membership” but actually looks like “cancel my male parts disease”.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

They really should have legal documents professionally translated instead of just running them through Google Translate.

It just shows they’re not taking the EULA seriously, either.

0 votes

Hampton Juerges

Just got a new agreement from Netflix. Same as Sony with the class action lawsuit thing in all capitalized letters on the second paragraph. Among many things in the agreement that influenced me to terminate the service is the line that states subscribers who sign the current agreement give Netflix the right to stop providing the service at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all (yet there is no mention of their not billing you if they do so). I have wondered how many people have signed this thing without even understanding that they are giving away many rights that people just don’t think of at first (for example, recourse for raiding subscriber bank accounts by “mistake”; how likely is that to happen?) in exchange for for a weekend movie or two.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

This sort of clause is sadly becoming standard. I believe US courts have ruled that it’s okay — but I don’t know if that extends to click-through EULAs, especially ones like the PS3 where you have to agree to keep using a product you’ve already purchased. (not a lawyer!)

0 votes

GPL preferred

Ventrilo goes so far as to say that they don’t have to prove anything. You simply owe them money if they say so. As such, I use a GPL voice alternative.

11.6 Liquidated Damages. You hereby acknowledge that damages for breach of this
Agreement may be difficult to prove, and you agree that should you breach any
provision of this Agreement, you will pay Flagship the sum of five thousand dollars
($5,000.00) for each such breach.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

That looks pretty nasty. It’d be extra scary if I knew it was enforcable, but no one really knows what would happen in court.

0 votes

GPL preferred

Agreeing contractually in advance that you owe someone money even if they can’t prove something. Perhaps some other legal framework provides protections that would nullify this obligation, but that is one heck of a gamble that the system will protect you after you do something absurd.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Yeah, it’s a big gamble — that’s the problem, EULAs haven’t really been tested in court much. No one really knows.

0 votes

Dan

Could it be because companies know they couldn’t win and only put in these clauses to scare you the easily frightened? :-)

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Quite possibly! Many courts will just strike out the clauses that go too far, not the entire contracts — so why not go overboard and hope it scares users or something sticks?

0 votes

Adam

What? you cant make nucular weapons on itunes! :(

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Apparently not, the license forbids it!

0 votes

Achraf52

I did, maybe, but I’m sure the one who wrote it should be bombarded .

0 votes

Col

Whoops, too late! I guess I’ve breached the EULA. My bad! lol

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

If only you had known, you wouldn’t have done it!

0 votes

Ricki

Because the software may be downloaded outside of the United States it is classified as an Export. The United Stated Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security requires this sort of End Use statement be included on all export paperwork,

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Is that actually true? Because I haven’t seen any other applications with nuclear weapon references in their EULAs. If the US government forces iTunes to mention nuclear weapons production in its EULA, that’s pretty ridiculous on its own.

0 votes

jojo

if i were to write a EULA, it would be to require users to pimp hoes and pay me my cut…just saying…

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

That wouldn’t be much more unreasonable than a lot of real EULAs!

0 votes

wxiiir

Do you know why there are so many stupid mistakes in the EULA’s? Because they don’t read them as well. HAHA

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Yeah, that’s probably the funniest thing — they don’t even read their own EULAs!

0 votes

Dark Sylinc

In my Country (Argentina) there is such a concept of “Morality and good behavior” or could also be translated as “Good faith & good practices”, but there is indeed, a notion of acceptable morality from society which must be weighted in Court.

Therefore Far Cry’s clause makes sense in my Country. Since my Country just adopted the Civil Law from European countries (mainly from France) I suspect this morality clause could also make sense in other European countries; considering Far Cry was developed by a German company.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

That’s very interesting; I’ve never heard of that. I suppose it explains things more.

Still, though — I don’t really understand. How could you play a game in bad faith?

0 votes

Dark Sylinc

Well, it’s hard to imagine for a video game.

Usually this “Morality” comes to play in prostitution charges in areas where, albeit illegal, it’s socially condoned and there’s evidence of it (i.e. police officers letting prostitutes keep working even after being aware of their presence). Thus reducing the sentence or even avoiding it completely (but not necessarily!).

It may also come into use when someone’s done something completely rejected by society but not yet legislated (beware though, nobody can go to jail for committing something that’s not expressly forbidden in the Penal Code)

As for a video game… I guess if it’s used to train errr.. rapists? If it’s used to brainwash kids? to knowingly induce epilepsy to a group of innocent people? to stalk minors in multiplayer chat rooms?
This clause is added “just in case” to cover any unknown or weird usage where the company can’t be held responsible for how it’s program is being used by it’s costumers. It’s a wide clause we include without even questioning, which probably may not ever be used.

“What’s moral and inmoral” depends on the location, evidence, and ultimately, the decision falls to the Judges (Whether it’s civil or criminal offense. In the latter, we don’t have a jury system like in the US, btw)

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Thanks for your comment! I definitely have a better understanding of it now.

It seems less weird — but, like with other EULAs, it’s an overly broad “catch all” phrase to cover themselves.

Speaking of which, I recently discovered that Asus’ EULA does not pay out for hardware damage caused by “space invasions.”

0 votes

Dark Sylinc

My last comment seems to have been lost, so my apologies if appears duplicated. Here it goes. I was replying to the “space invasion” comment:

LOL! I wonder if they’re trolling us.

Neverthless, I suspect this “space invasion” alludes to cosmic rays comming from space, which is the real deal. Google “cosmic ray damage electronics” (no quotes).

It’s extremely rare for this to happen though (as long as we stay on Earth), and dunno how would they notice cosmic rays were the cause of a malfunction and confuse it instead with regular failures.

Leaving you an article…
http://news.discovery.com/space/are-cosmic-rays-causing-toyotas-sudden-acceleration-problem.html

0 votes

Tina

Your comment wasn’t lost, it just went into moderation. I published this one and deleted the other. :)

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Interesting.

I think the “space invasion” line is just another way of saying “act of god” — they don’t want to cover damage for crazy unforeseen circumstances.

0 votes

anonymous

Four steps to world domination:

(1) start inexpensive service, require credit card and name / address / phone number, get 1,000,000+ users; EULA / TOS says “may change at any time” and “any use of the service after any change of terms consitutes acceptance of new terms”
(2) insert a term in the EULA saying “i agree to pay $30,000″
(3) if customers resist paying, sue them, as in RIAA litigation many people should be willing to pay $1000-$5000 to drop the suit because defending is more expensive than that
(4) bonus points if you also threaten criminal prosecution for grand theft (theft of product valued at $30,000) and unauthorized access to computer systems (hacking) with serious jail time

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

It would be thrown out of court, of course — although you might be able to get some settlements from a few people.

There’s no real good reason that would be thrown out of court while some of the EULAs above would stand, sadly. It’s a messed up system.

0 votes

Matt Snyder

I’m testing the waters for a service that would take the EULAlyzer idea a step further, and leverage the crowd to raise our awareness of what we’re agreeing to: http://blog.youluh.com/?

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Ah, I saw this earlier today! Very cool idea — good luck! I’d love to see the finished product.

0 votes

Keesha

I usually skim thru the Eula… once I did that and decided not to download the product. It said I would have to pay them an amount of money every month for a period of time… Couldn’t believe that was there! I certainly wasn’t going to approve that! Don’t remember what the download was but it was rediculous!

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Well, if you didn’t give them your credit card number, then they’d have a hard time collecting that!

I could say “By reading this comments you will pay me $5 a month for one year,” but that’s just silly. Just like a EULA that slips something like that in.

0 votes

Tundrabeast

I’ve wondered why there hasn’t been some movement to make a law or regulation or such that would force these companies to provide an outline that highlighted what was in the EULA’s they want you to agree to. They ofen make them so long and with language that makes it a real chore to slug through. We should be able to just get a highlight of what is being required…

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Yup, very true. They _want_ them to be a chore to slog through.

I believe there aren’t outlines because the “outline” itself would be legally enforceable or something like that, invalidating the “bullet-proof” language in the rest of the EULA. I’m not a lawyer, though — that’s just the sort of thing I’ve heard.

0 votes

DickN

I used the WiFi at a fast food stop recently. The first screen showed their ISP’s EULA, featuring monthly fee, term of contract and penalty for early termination! It also contained the usual “by using this service you agree to…”. There was no indication that the text was intended for anyone but the patron using the connection. I figured I was safe as long as I didn’t divulge my credit card#, which doesn’t even exist on my computer. Anybody know how to make a computer anonymous?

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Yup, typical — the restaurant doesn’t take the EULA seriously, so why should you?

They have no way of knowing your credit card number, so you’re fine — we could have a “By reading MakeUseOf, you agree to pay us $5 a month for a year.” statement in our terms of use, but it would be meaningless. We don’t have any credit card numbers.

Besides, that’s ridiculous. If they tried to charge such a thing, you could perform a chargeback and dispute it.

0 votes

Ian UK

I admit it, I use EULAlyser and just glance at the sections it highlights!

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

I admire those of you that actually read EULAs — if only with a program like EULAlyser. Keep fighting the good fight!

0 votes

john_atte_kiln

Well, this is all very well, and jolly amusing and all thoses things, but tell us this … what can you do if you don’t agree with a clause? There are never facilities to do qualified agrees, so what then? As far as I can see the only choice is to not install and that’s not useful. What do you suggest MakeUseOf? Amaze us.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

All you can really do is not install it. I’ve also seen cute programs that will let you modify they EULA in the box before clicking agree — but I don’t think anyone really believes that will change the contract.

If you don’t agree, either don’t install it or shrug and install it anyway. Honestly, even lawyers don’t sit down and read EULAs for the programs they install. They’re not really meant to be read.

0 votes

Noi Kristinsson

In regards to google drive EULA. We own what we make and no EULA can change that by clicking I AGREE.
It is stated in Berne Convention, among other things:

Article 3
The protection of this Concention shall apply to:
(a) authors who are nationals of one of the countries of the Union, for their works, whether pulished or not;

Article 6bis
(1) Independently of the author’s economic rights, and even after the transfer of the said rights, the author shall have the right to claim authorship of the work and to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, the said work, which would be prejudicial to his honor or reputation.

Article 9
(1) Authors of literary and artistic works protected by this Convention shall have the exclusive right of authorizing the reproduction of these works, in any manner or form.

The berne convention was first written in 1886 and latest update is from 1979 and most countries in the world agree to that license. Which literally says: Your work is your work, you own it and no one can take that ownership away.

At most one could assign a Creative commons license to it once published, but since your email is not published only the standard copyright protections apply.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Interesting. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t really understand all the details.

Still, it wouldn’t be the first time that a EULA asked for more than the law allowed it to. They try to overreach a lot.

0 votes

Asangansi

LOL!!!

0 votes

hotdoge3

The MyWebSearch Toolbar can be easily uninstalled.
No Spyware, No Adware. The MyWebSearch toolbar does not collect any personal information about you (such as your name, email address, etc.). Further, it does not: (a) collect or report back to us (or anyone else) any information about sites you visit on the Internet; (b) collect or “screen-scrape” any search queries or information that you provide to any other web-sites; (c) serve pop-ups when you are on other websites; or (d) collect or report back to us (or anyone else) any data regarding your computer keystrokes or other data unrelated to the services the Toolbar provides.
The MyWebSearch toolbar also uses “cookies”.
? so it all GOOD ? I don’t think so ?
_______________________________________________________________
Yazzle Games – Your pass to everything free and fun. (nice fun ? not my likening)

Functionality. The Company offers some of the most popular software applications available on the Internet, such as screen savers, games, ring tones, and instant messenger applications, in exchange for your agreement also to install Outerinfo, the Company’s advertising software. As a result of installing the Company’s Software, you will see occasional pop-up or pop-under ads based on your online activities.