The Futility Of EULAs

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Here we have a typical IM toolbar (SweetIM), which has a rather curious EULA.

Sweet? Nope..., originally uploaded by Paperghost

Yes, they really want you to download this program. What particularly caught my eye was the age requirements on the EULA:

Please note: (1) you MUST be 13 years or older to install or to use the SweetIM Software. If you are not yet 13, do not download SweetIM Software

Thirteen? I must admit, I don't see many applications with an age requirement as low as that.

Okay, fine. You want to allow 13 year old kids to download this thing, fair enough; they're not stupid. However, if you're going to aim your app at kids that young, you probably shouldn't include a EULA that takes about six weeks to read.

Seriously, check it out.

Ten points to anybody who can explain how a reasonably intelligent adult could plough through that lot, let alone a kid. The default narrow web browser it opens in (see the above screenshot) makes it appear to be even longer than it actually is. I dusted off our EULA Analyzer to see what it thought of it all; the results are pretty much as you expected. That is to say, completely ludicrous:

swetim2.jpg

According to the above, an application that they want thirteen year olds to use has a EULA that's BEYOND twelfth grade reading level. For those of you not in the States, a twelfth grader is usually seventeen or eighteen.

Doh.

170 sentences, 5,000+ words, 34 odd words per sentence......enjoy, kids!

1 Comments

First, totally agree that EULAs are pretty rediculous. While I deal with lawyer-speak a lot in business to business agreements it shouldn't be necessary for end users. Why not say what you really mean?

Second, the 13 years old is probably because of COPA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_Online_Protection_Act) that requires any US company that is going to store information about the user give special care to those under 13.

I believe that a recent supreme court ruling (a year or so ago) said that it wasn't the governments job to regulate private companies in this way and classified it as a free speech issue. I am unsure whether there have been any recent cases that have tested this though...

Also, I believe Korea has a similar law, but for people 14 years old or younger. I am not sure they still enforce that or not.

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This page contains a single entry by Christopher Boyd published on December 9, 2009 12:33 PM.

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