The first major battle in a case with potentially significant implications for the enforceability of EULAs has just been fought. The result was disappointing. Judge Alsup, a federal judge in the Northern District of California, just granted Apple summary judgment on its copyright claims in Apple v. Psystar. Apple, of course, is the major California computer company. Psystar is a small Florida company that gained notoriety in April of last year for their “Open Computer,” which optionally shipped with Mac OS X installed (a legally purchased, retail copy of the operating system was also included in the box). Apple was predictably displeased with Psystar for selling what are essentially Hackintoshes and sued the company in June of 2008. Other Mac clone manufacturers have popped up, but Psystar became the movement’s figurehead. Its litigation with Apple promised to test the legality of the cloning business model. That test has so far gone very poorly for the cloners. Continue reading “Apple v. Psystar and the undying EULA question – by “Michael M””→
The other important step one should take as a consumer is to actually make some attempt to read agreements before clicking through them–even if it’s just a quick skim. While there’s not much you can do if you don’t like the terms (except perhaps give your business to someone else), at least you’ll be aware of them. And sometime’s you’ll be pleasantly surprised (I’m a big fan of Google’s affirmation of my intellectual property rights, something about which I never would have known if I didn’t read the terms). If you want to be extra vigilant, you could even check the EFF’s “TOSBack” site from time to time: it’s a site that tracks changes to various terms of service agreements (there’s even an RSS feed if you’re uber-nerdy). After all, someone’s got to notice harmful changes to these agreements in order for people can get angry about them.
Lastly, I’d be up for creating some sort of EULA hall of shame, much like the EFF’s DMCA takedown hall of shame. While there already seems to be a site that attempts to do this, it’s far from well done or thorough (check it out at http://www.eulahallofshame.com/). Such a site, if done well, would be useful in that it would draw attention to particularly bad abuses of licensing agreements. And, after all, ridiculing sketchy practices by companies is fun. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested.
In honor of Cory Doctorow, I’d like to end this blog post in the same way he has ended several of his about blog posts EULAs (and I can because Boing Boing uses a CC-BY-NC license, I’m giving him credit [Thanks Cory!], and I’m gonna go ahead and say this blog post is CC-BY-NC-SA, since I can’t seem to find a licence for the site as a whole):
READ CAREFULLY. By reading this blog, you agree, on behalf of your employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all NON-NEGOTIATED agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete and acceptable use policies (“BOGUS AGREEMENTS”) that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any BOGUS AGREEMENTS on behalf of your employer.