How Much is Too Much?

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You'd think I'd be pleased about software telling you what it's going to do. However, sometimes there's a little too much information for the end-user to digest. Imagine my surprise at the following install, then, where the end-user has to sit through four EULAs, including two Zango agreements which could potentially conflict with one another! Sitting comfortably? Then let's begin...

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"Rubberfaces" is an application which takes pictures of celebrities and fires them around the screen, distorting their features in a humorous fashion. However, the real action takes place when you're attempting to install the thing. Firing up the executable presents you with the above EULA. Clicking "Next" brings you to a "MySearch" EULA box:

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Once you've waded through that lot, imagine your surprise when you then see...another EULA! This time, courtesy of Zango:

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...at this point, I imagine you'd click anything just to be rid of this EULA army. Anyway, on with the show....note the date of the Zango EULA, then click through and you're presented with the below screen:

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Can you see what's wrong with this picture?

Well, there's two things...

1) The Rubberfaces screensaver has been installed, and it turns out you didn't need the Zango software after all. You can simply exit out of the Zango screen, and you're left with the MySearch bar, the screensaver but no Zango. Whoops.

2) Check the date of the second Zango EULA - updated February 10th, 2006? Wait, wasn't the first EULA updated November 15th, 2005?

Yep, this application can't even make its' mind up which Zango EULA it wants you to agree to. So to be on the safe side, it gives you two.

I'm not a legal-type person, so I couldn't possibly comment on the ramifications of presenting people with two sets of supposedly "legally binding" agreements that might potentially contradict one another. Plus, my eyes started to melt after wading through so much text. However, it does seem a touch strange, and that's putting it mildly.

I'll leave the legalese to the legal-eagles, but staying with the EULAs for a moment, this seems a good time to try out our EULA Analyzer. I ran each of the first three EULAs through the tool, and these are the results I received:

Title: Galt 1

Scoring Metrics
Number of characters: 4702
Number of words: 866
Number of sentences: 33
Average words per sentence: 26.24
Flesch Score: 31.42
Flesch Grade: 15 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level
Automated Readability Index: 17 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level
Coleman-Liau Index: 18 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level

Title: Mysearch

Scoring Metrics
Number of characters: 29796
Number of words: 5529
Number of sentences: 123
Average words per sentence: 44.95
Flesch Score: 15.18
Flesch Grade: 22 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level
Automated Readability Index: 26 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level
Coleman-Liau Index: 17 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level

Title: Zango 1

Scoring Metrics
Number of characters: 14076
Number of words: 2305
Number of sentences: 88
Average words per sentence: 26.19
Flesch Score: 23.23
Flesch Grade: 17 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level
Automated Readability Index: 20 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level
Coleman-Liau Index: 22 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level

In a nutshell, the above means you'd be pretty confused trying to wade through that lot. You can find out more about Flesch scores here. Then I had the brainwave of pasting all the EULAs into the tool in one go, to see what would happen. Unfortunately, the EULA built into the Zango application didn't allow me to cut and paste it, so the below is what happens when you combine three out of the four EULAs:

Title: All Galt EULAs (minus final Zango EULA)

Scoring Metrics
Number of characters: 48584
Number of words: 8708
Number of sentences: 242
Average words per sentence: 35.98
Flesch Score: 21.15
Flesch Grade: 19 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level
Automated Readability Index: 23 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level
Coleman-Liau Index: 18 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level

Final Zango EULA not included, the makers of this application expect you to wade through at least eight thousand, seven hundred and eight words to agree to their program being installed. Using the initial Zango EULA word count as a rough guide (2305 words), when added to the above this bundle would likely weigh in with a final tally well in excess of ten thousand words.

All that for a screensaver?

3 Comments

Hmmm I've bought cars and rented apartments with less paperwork.

I do appreciate the article. In my opionion the whole EULA is a disaster and more than likely not legal in a court of law. What judge would hold anyone accoutable to a 15 page EULA (and in most cases you cant even copy the darn thing in order to print it and read). I am a college graduate and an educated person, but, when it comes to reading the EULA and determining what my liabilities are once I AGREE boggles the mind. To the savvy, well rounded, and educated person the EULA is a pathetic piece of legal garbage. The company lawyers draw up these EULA'S to 'protect' their company and never really think about the people that have to read this mess in order to determine if the software is even worth the inherent risks of the EULA. Maybe we need a VDLA (vendor disclosure license agreement). That document would tell us if they are using AdWare, or if they bill automatically, or if they share or sell email or contact information. It may be in the Privacy Policy but I would rather have it in a license agreement and AGREED to by a company executive.
That sounds fair to me....

ROE

Speaking as a legal assistant and future lawyer... give me a break!

EULAs were created to prevent obvious misuse of product or erroneous lawsuits, not to be abused to allow spyware downloads and ethically questionable activity on computers. The lawyers who write these EULAs should at least take a lesson in reducing documents, if not ethics.

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This page contains a single entry by Christopher Boyd published on May 3, 2006 4:27 AM.

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