Let’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. 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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
Practically Everywhere – The EULA May Change At Any Time
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?