You guys know I always try to have your back on the technical front.  Whether it’s just some advice on new tech that’s coming out, game previews, tech law or tips on keeping your digital life safeguarded, I like helping you out.  And today what I want to talk about a bit is a little thing you all know and love (ok maybe loathe) called the end user license agreement, or EULA for short.

Sometimes it comes titled as a basic user agreement or terms of use, but whatever it’s called it usually follows the same format – a monstrosity of a document drafted in some strange melange of english and legalese filling anywhere between 3 and 30 screens for the user to scrutinize, read through and process in their impatient brainspaces.  You’ve all been there – for gamers there’s a healthy sized EULA in a lot of games before you’re allowed to play, especially in MMO’s.  For the IT crowd there are all sorts of licensing agreements with operating systems and most off the shelf software, requiring you to agree before you can install them on your machine to use.

Of course you could always say you don’t agree to the terms, but then that would hinder your gameplay or studious productivity.  But you don’t say no, do you?  You’ve never said no.  You’ve never done anything but scroll alllll the way to the bottom, check “I agree” and hit OK to move on.  Trust me, you are not alone.  TONS of people go through the same motions.  The issue is that by doing so you miss all the rules and all the meat of the agreement between you and the publisher and probably don’t even know what you agreed to.  It could be a rule you don’t want to agree to but just did.  Or something that wouldn’t normally strike you as obvious.  If you have certain Apple software they make you agree not to use their stuff for developing nuclear weapons.  A while back if you ran Safari for Windows, you may not be allowed to install it on Windows.  If you play Diablo III for example then what you agreed to was that you owed taxes to the IRS for any profits made on the real auction house.  OR – it’ll make you feel like an idiot when you post ridiculous things to Facebook.  Yeah, seriously.  It’s like signing a document without reading it.

I once didn’t play World of Warcraft for a two days after install because of a EULA.  I read the whole thing roughly 4 times because I swore there was a clause in there that could be interpreted as not being allowed to play in a hotel room while I’m traveling. It worked out ok, but I still had to know.

So it made me super happy to see a little experiment that was being run on the forums over at Technical Illusions.  In case you’re not aware about what TI is all about, they have an extremely cool device called the CastAR under development – a set of glasses that effectively and awesomely delivers an augmented reality environment to the wearer, complete with a wide array of controls and slick head tracking.  Their forums, much like many forums you can sign up for to use, includes a terms of use/EULA that all users have to agree to before they let you on and take part in forum discussions.  And to make it a little fun, they included the opportunity for reward if you actually had the patience to read all the way through.  The final text? Here it is:

“Any information you provide on these forums will not be disclosed to any third party without your complete consent, although the staff cannot be held liable for any hacking attempt in which your data is compromised. Congratulations you read this far, send the word Toby to jenesee at technical illusions dot com to be entered for a drawing By continuing with the sign up process you agree to the above rules by Technical Illusions”

I’ll give you a second to read that last little section.  Even being at the very end of the agreement, how many people do you think would have sent “Toby” over to Jenesee out of the first 100 users?  Three.  That’s right, three.  So as she mentions in her experiment data, the same percentage of users that caught the clause are the same as the percentage of people in America that still use dial-up.  Yikes.  In this case the consequences were a little more friendly – sometimes reading the EULA gave a user a chance for a fun reward rather than agreeing to something accidentally.  Congratulations to those three Technical Illusions forum users.

And I guess a kudos to the 3% of you that seemingly read your EULA’s.

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About Tushar

Author and creator of Technical Fowl. IT/Tech hero. Jiu Jitsu purple belt. Enjoying the venn diagram intersection of tech, gaming, business, and politics.

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