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Doctorow Suggests Simple EULA Solution

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the ideas-that-would-fit-in-dept-lines dept.

Music 158

Cory Doctorow, writing for the Guardian, has suggested an easy way for EULAs to become more user-friendly and less of a legal quagmire. He recommends reducing agreements for games, music, and ebooks to simply: "Don't violate copyright law." Quoting: "'Don't violate copyright law' has a lot going for it, but the best thing about it is what it signals to the purchaser, namely: 'You are not about to get screwed.' The copyright wars have produced some odd and funny outcomes, but I think the oddest was when the record industry began to campaign for more copyright education on the grounds that young people were growing up without the moral sensibility that they need to become functional members of society. ... it's not the entertainment industry's job to tell me what are and are not fair terms of sale for my downloads. If loaning an MP3 should be illegal, let them get a law passed (they're apparently good at that — the fact that they haven't managed it to date should tell you something about the reasonableness of the proposition)."

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Agree (5, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009653)

There are two main problems with EULAs.

1. You need a lawyer to interpret them correctly.

2. They generally have over-reaching and sometimes illegal demands.

Cory's idea would go a long way towards making these problems go away.

Re:Agree (5, Insightful)

powerspike (729889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009759)

The other thing is, regardless if you accept the eula or not, you generally can't return software, so you "own" the software that you can't use. that's the B*t*h.

I really do believe, if you can't read the conditions before a purchase you shouldn't have to adhere to them (even if the program/item forces you to before use).

I can't believe eula's are even legal (at all).

Re:Agree (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009901)

That reminds me of the label on the sealed box for a laptop I bought some years ago. It said something along the lines of "By opening this package, you agree to the terms of the EULA inside". This was so that you could not just install Linux and ask the company for a refund for the Windows license. Ridiculous that you're a position where you have to agree to something you can't even read yet.

Re:Agree (2, Insightful)

Zsub (1365549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009975)

That is why in the Netherlands you are not legally bound by EULA's you cannot read beforehand. Also, the law takes precedence over any EULA you might have agreed to. You cannot take away privileges or grant privileges by EULA that are or are not granted to you by the law.

Re:Agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27010313)

You cannot take away privileges or grant privileges by EULA that are or are not granted to you by the law.

I find that extremely hard to believe. If a publisher wants to grant you privileges beyond the law, surely they must be allowed to do so?

It is reasonable to disallow EULAs from restricting rights, but disallow extending rights?

Compare that to GPL (alright, not really a valid comparison since the GPL is no EULA), by accepting it you are granted privileges normally not allowed by law.

Re:Agree (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010549)

I find that extremely hard to believe. If a publisher wants to grant you privileges beyond the law, surely they must be allowed to do so?

By reading this comment, you are hereby granted permission, without restriction, to download any and all music, no matter the license, or lack of license, for free. You can also own the entire world.

Still think they can't grant privilages beyond the law?

Re:Agree (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010553)

Still think they can grant privilages beyond the law?

There, fixed that for me.

Re:Agree (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010889)

By agreeing to this license, you are allowed to make up to 10 copies of the licensed software and distribute them to friends and family.

Just granted privileges beyond the law.

Re:Agree (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011117)

No, you've extended the license. You have been granted a further 10 licenses for your purchase.

Re:Agree (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012477)

I see it as waiving copyright law to allow the end user to copy and distribute 10 copies.

Re:Agree (1)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012981)

How is it waiving copyright law? Are they relinquishing their copyrights to the product in any way?

Re:Agree (1)

Workaphobia (931620) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012409)

Wow. I feel... changed. As if I've discovered a new and incredible superpower. "Workaphobia was just an average slashdot user until one day..."

Should I use my abilities for good or evil?

Re:Agree (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010589)

That is why in the Netherlands you are not legally bound by EULA's you cannot read beforehand.

"By opening this box, you accept a contract. Its terms are posted on the World Wide Web at <http://www.example.com/eula/0019>." Would that fly?

Re:Agree (2, Interesting)

Joe U (443617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010847)

"By opening this box, you accept a contract. Its terms are posted on the World Wide Web at ." Would that fly?

Not unless you're providing access to the web in the checkout line at the store. Also, there's nothing stopping the online EULA from being changed between the time you read the EULA, the time you buy the item and the time you open it.

Re:Agree (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011011)

It would still be a step up from the current scenario, though, of buy the software, open the box, put the install disc in, *THEN* see the EULA and:

1) Agree to it and install the software, or

2) Don't agree to it and be unable to return the software due to open box thus:
              a) causing you to be out the money without software you can use, or
              b) forcing you to agree to the EULA so you can get use out of the software that you've bought and can't return.

The URL-on-box scenario would let you buy the software, go home, read the EULA and then either return the software unopened or open the box, install the software, and agree to the EULA.

Re:Agree (1)

Bazer (760541) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011141)

I think it wouldn't be of any use in court either way. A web page is still dubious.

An EULA signed on paper, in two copies, before your purchase would give you timestamped evidence of the terms you agreed to. It would force the company to actually validate the terms in court and make customers think twice.

I think trying to set up a scheme like the one you propose AND giving it legal grounds could only add to the problem.

Re:Agree (1)

Seriousity (1441391) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011507)

That's very reminiscent of the "By entering this competition, you signify that you agree to the terms and conditions, found at bullshitenergydrink.com/v/terms/15423..."

Most people neither know nor care that when they send the text message containing their full name, address and phone number they are selling their privacy away for NOTHING.

The whole thing reminds me of Orwell's lotteries in 1984, always won by nonpersons. But I digress...

In my experience, EULAs are designed to be so frustratingly annoying that nobody can be !@$&!%ed reading the things. How many allow you to maximize the tiny text box full of painful legalese? How many users would even think to cp into a text editor?

Bah, we all know things as they are a very bad, but as this is intentional I can't help but be pessimistic when a goodwill plan such as the Doctorow's is suggested - why would they adopt it?

--

"There are only two types of people in this world - the screwheads and the doomed" - Hunter S. Thompson

Re:Agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011515)

Opening a box is not an accepted way of signing a contract. There has to be a meeting of the minds. You can't have an agreement with a box. Contracts must always be a two way street. EULA are not contracts and never have been.

Re:Agree (1)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010239)

As a lawyer I think many are not for exactly your reason. But can you afford to litigate to find out?

Re:Agree (3, Insightful)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010345)

I can't believe eula's are even legal (at all).

Then you obviously don't understand the purpose of the EULA [what-is-what.com] . The EULA is not legal protection in the sense that the company will sue the end user for breach. It is for legal protection in case one makes a claim against the company that they took no measures to protect A, B, and C. In other words, it is a defensive measure, not an offensive measure. It just reads as offensive because, well, we all know what the best defense is...

Re:Agree (4, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010557)

The Chewbacca Defense?

Re:Agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011357)

if I had mod points....but Chewbacca lives on endor so I can't mod.

bnetd (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010597)

The EULA is not legal protection in the sense that the company will sue the end user for breach.

Citation needed [wikipedia.org] .

Re:bnetd (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012375)

I would hardly call "bnetd" typical end-user behaviour. Maybe the typical /. end user reverse engineers his software, but most end users do not.

Re:bnetd (1)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013023)

So what if it's not typical end-user behavior? Your post said nothing at all about typical/atypical end-user behavior. You clearly said, and I quote:

The EULA is not legal protection in the sense that the company will sue the end user for breach.

Re:Agree (1)

Weedlekin (836313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010469)

"regardless if you accept the eula or not, you generally can't return software"

Many software companies (including MS) will refund the purchase price of stuff that's been actually been bought (i.e. there's entry on an invoice for that specific item together with how much was paid for it, or some other evidence of purchase) if it's returned within a specific time frame, usually between one and two months, depending on the company. This includes software that's been opened and installed as long as all the original packaging is returned, but they usually require it to be accompanied by evidence of purchase, e.g. an invoice, credit card statement, etc.

OEM versions are usually specifically excluded from most company refund policies on the grounds that their customer was the OEM, so that OEM is responsible for handling refund claims from people who they sold devices to. This is actually the standard way all component makers work, hence the fact that you don't go directly to a transistor manufacturer for a remedy if one fails in your stereo system within the warranty period.

NB: one notable exception to the above is games, which are distributed by companies who take a "life's tough" position when customers complain about problems on their systems or just the fact that they paid for something that turned out to be a piece of shit.

Re:Agree (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010635)

I can't believe eula's are even legal (at all).

Pretty much only in the US and then only in some states.

In Europe EULAs are considered an attempt at changing the terms of the implicit sales contract after the sale and are thus not valid. Any attempt at trying to enforce an EULA around here would result in the plaintiff being laughed out of the court and having to pay the defendant's legal costs.

Re:Agree (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010709)

B*t*h.

Look, you can either swear, or not. Either one is just fine, this is the grown-up internet. But that kind of weasling where you want to swear but don't really dare to is just pathetic.

Re:Agree (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011115)

Frack you :D

Re:Agree (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011479)

Feck off!!

Re:Agree (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012881)

Sure you can return software. You might have to threaten to take the store to small claims court, but you will get your money back.

Re:Agree (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012965)

that's the B*t*h.

Bandwidth? Birdbath? Buckteeth? Be clear, man.

Re:Agree (1)

Peter Mork (951443) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013095)

Funny, I would have figured that this regex would only accept strings like BBBBh, tttttttth, h, and BBtth. Not sure how to pronounce most of these, though.

Simple is good, but over-simple is not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27009921)

I don't know -- to me Cory's idea misses the point that copyright law is actually flexible enough to allow for different options. An EULA that says "Obey Copyright Law" is sort of like a paper contract that says "obey contract law": it's vague to the point of meaningless.

Actually, I sort of like the Creative Commons' approach to "simplifying" license terms: easy to understand categories with pretty common-sense icons, along with a marketing push to apply these standardized licenses across content types and an appeal to authors to adopt these packaged licenses.

Perhaps the content industries could follow that lead with a simple "All Rights Reserved" or "For Your Private Enjoyment" logo(?) -- something which boils down to the same idea Cory is getting at, but doesn't leave any question of which rights the owner wants to retain.

Re:Agree (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010527)

1. You need a lawyer to interpret them correctly.

You are assuming they can be interpreted correctly. Most of law and lawyering is made up due to wrangling and disputes over interpreting.

Re:Agree (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010621)

Unfortunately, for the people writing and using them, those are features.

You see them as problems, because you are the person that the EULA is designed to hurt.

Re:Agree (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27010791)

Cory's idea would go a long way towards making these problems go away.

However, Cory is a fag.

What's the point? (2, Interesting)

iYk6 (1425255) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009667)

Exactly how is this different from not having a EULA at all? The whole point of a EULA is an attempt to restrict what the user can do with their software. This is like saying that L.A. can solve it's murder problems by simply having murderers not murder people any more.

Re:What's the point? (5, Informative)

pmontra (738736) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009747)

EULAs tell gamers what they can and cannot do. If gamers violate the EULA, companies sue them. LA tells to people what they can and cannot do. If people break the law, LA jails them. As you know, neither the EULA or the law can prevent misconduct.

So "Don't violate copyright law" would work as well as EULAs and the law, if all companies want is copyright protection.

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27009877)

Actually EULAs tell only what you must not do.

Re:What's the point? (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010677)

So "Don't violate copyright law" would work as well as EULAs and the law, if all companies want is copyright protection.

I think Mr. Doctorow's point is that anything beyond copyright protection shouldn't be needed.

Re:What's the point? (2, Insightful)

ZombieWomble (893157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009755)

Actually, I think that this is the point. Reading the article, there is no argument beyond the shallow "EULAs are bad, they should be disposed of" that anyone who's been on a site like /. is probably deeply familiar with already.

In short, move along, nothing to see here.

Re:What's the point? (1)

ImOnlySleeping (1135393) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011779)

In your analogy, the EULA would equal a binding contract you enter into upon entering LA that was ten thousand words long written on a sign post as you speed by at 50 mph which defined a bunch of parameters outside of (say don't a knife on the same day you buy a ski mask) the written law (don't murder people).

And what about the other side of it? (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009675)

Surely any content I create with an application belongs to me, so what about all those programs and websites that claim it belongs to them in their own EULAs?

"Don't break Copyright Law. That's our job"?

Re:And what about the other side of it? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010609)

Surely any content I create with an application belongs to me, so what about all those programs and websites that claim it belongs to them in their own EULAs?

Programs? If you create a work that is derivative of the bundled clip art, it isn't entirely "content you create". Web sites? You are submitting the work to be published on the web site, so the web site needs at least permission to do what is necessary to implement your click on "Submit".

Re:And what about the other side of it? (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010759)

And when I use Photoshop to create art or upload my collection of family pictures to Facebook, who decides what happens to that content?

Re:And what about the other side of it? (1)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011699)

When I wrote a book, the copyright of novel belonged to the pencil.

Re:And what about the other side of it? (1)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012517)

Well, you did. You already decided what happens to that content when you uploaded it to Facebook. No one forced you to upload to that site, you did so of your own volition, and that implies that you agreed to their Terms of Service. If FB's ToS has a clause saying "hey, whatever you upload belongs to us, no ifs, ands, or buts" and if you still go ahead and upload, then you've made your choice to relinquish control.

The more difficult issue revolves around what happens when I register with, to stick with the example, FB under ToS X and FB then changes the ToS to Y. That's exactly what happened a couple of weeks ago. People screamed bloody murder and Facebook had to backpedal.

Re:And what about the other side of it? (1)

Pofy (471469) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011249)

>Surely any content I create with an application belongs to me,...

It belongs to you in that the copyright to it belongs to you. Copies of the work belongs to whoever owns them. Typically you would first own them as you create the copies, but as soon as you give them away or sell them, those copies no longer belongs or is owned by you (you still retain the copyright though, it is not tied to the ownership of copies).

End User Lookout Alert (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27009683)

With 300 lines of legalese you know you're getting a good ass-reaming.

Twofo [goatse.fr]

No, make the EULAs illegal! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27009699)

Make all forms of EULAs, DRM, invasive copy protection etc illegal. It's gotten to the point where I want to pirate to avoid that kind of crap that is invasive to my privacy. Unless they stop treating me like a criminal, stop treating all who wants to legally buy their wares as criminals, I don't want to hear them whine about piracy. They are the bigger of two problems for sure!

That being said, the DRM and hassle free services out there that do exist I like and applaud. I am going to refrain from naming any of them, you know who they are. And the final twist? I buy media and software from them but noone else!

Re:No, make the EULAs illegal! (1)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010261)

Make all forms of EULAs, DRM, invasive copy protection etc illegal. It's gotten to the point where I want to pirate to avoid that kind of crap that is invasive to my privacy.

Take heart, I believe Obama will finally aid the little guy in his fight against corporatism.

Is it a bad thing... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27009705)

for your doctor to be named "Ow"?

Re:Is it a bad thing... (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011523)

Only if he wears goggles and a red cape.

Sort of like the iPod's (2)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009723)

"Don't steal music"

It's subtle, but it gets the word out. Whether people grasp to it or not is their own business. Stop treating us all like criminals.

Re:Sort of like the iPod's (1)

Okind (556066) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009761)

It's not that they're treating us as criminals -- which in itself is reason enough not to buy music and listen to radio only.
What's worse, is that they're treating us like lawyers. Because that's what all this legalese does. Nevermind that no layperson can really understand it, or wants to.

All these EULA's do is destroy any remnant of respect consumers may have for the record companies.

Re:Sort of like the iPod's (1)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010273)

I like big butts and I cannot lie.

Then I hope you can refrain from speaking the truth. It would be socially awkward, I think.

Re:Sort of like the iPod's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27010307)

Stealing music would be taking songs from someone else and performing them (for money). And maybe ripping melodies from other artists (hello Timbaland vs demoscene).

You mean unlawfully copying files, I guess.

Re:Sort of like the iPod's (0, Redundant)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010587)

In English law, theft was codified into a statutory offence in the Theft Act 1968 which defines it as:

"A person is guilty of theft, if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it". (Section 1)

Now, what does 'theft' have to do with EULAs?

I get that you referring to the copying and use of unlicensed material, so i'll rephrase the question: What does 'theft' have to do with copyright infringement?

Re:Sort of like the iPod's (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010699)

What does 'theft' have to do with copyright infringement?

I answered that in a journal entry [slashdot.org] .

Re:Sort of like the iPod's (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010923)

That's odd. I don't remember including "redistribution for profit" in my statement. Let's check that again.

I get that you referring to the copying and use of unlicensed material...

Oh, I didn't.

So, What does 'theft' have to do with copyright infringement?

Re:Sort of like the iPod's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011175)

Which property is being controlled? A song or video? Kindly point out which section of the law defines a song or video as being property.

But it's already the law (4, Insightful)

duffel (779835) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009729)

You're already subject to copyright law... it's the law. Having a button labelled "I will obey the law" just makes it seem optional

Re:But it's already the law (2, Interesting)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010855)

Having a button labelled "I will obey the law" just makes it seem optional

It really is optional (but I agree with your statement).

On that same theme is the /. (american) "I am not a lawyer" statement, disconnected from the realities of this site. "Well, I did realize someone was Goatse-linking above and some other poster was called Adolph Hitroll, but this other user gave some advice and did not claim NOT to be a lawyer, so I just assumed he was."

I realize that there could be legal ramifications for actual lawyers using their public identities where someone could have a case against them, but for non-lawyers to think/feel they have to state this is just strange.

Just for the record: I am not Mel Torme.

Re:But it's already the law (2, Funny)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012649)

Ah... the velvet fog...

I guess your truncated nick is supposed to be "I cant believe its n<ot Mel Torme> (1103137)." And I was so hoping that you were. /me crawls back to listen to Frank one more time.

Whoa, whoa (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27009745)

Let's not get too radical here. Such an overly simple EULA would require corporate legal departments to acknowledge that the corporations are actually selling copies to customers, instead of merely licensing content. And that would surely lead to anarchy, what with customers thinking that they can use that copy for entertaining themselves, loan it to a friend or even sell it on as used. Surely the corporations are paying top bucks to their copyright lawyers for a reason!

You ARE about to get screwed. LEARN to enjoy it. (1)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009751)

'Don't violate copyright law' has a lot going for it, but the best thing about it is what it signals to the purchaser, namely: 'You are not about to get screwed.'

But then how will they screw us?

Frankly, this sounds like it could be bad for the industry.

can someone... (0, Redundant)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009771)

mod article up +5 awesometastic!!!

Too one-sided (2)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009797)

Surely it would be better stated as:

"I'll respect your copyright rights as long as you respect mine"

So, you stop extending copyrights to ridiculous lengths and stop using DRM to restrict my fair use rights, and I won't pass copies to my friends or buy bootlegs from dodgy street vendors.

Re:Too one-sided (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009837)

You missed
...Also, FUCK YOU

Re:Too one-sided (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011101)

But, "you" DIDN'T, and still DON'T, respect their copyrights, which is why DRM exists.

Re:Too one-sided (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27011571)

And copyright has been extended well beyond what it should have, which is one of the reasons why piracy exists. Guess who's winning?

There wouldn't be any problems if.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27009853)

Don't buy programs with overbearing EULAs.
Better yet. If it doesn't show the EULA till you stick it in your computer, then buy it, open it, stick it in, and return it. If they don't take it back sue them for selling a good without first disclosing the terms of the good(thus misleading you into believing you had further usage rights then the EULA stated...)

Re:There wouldn't be any problems if.. (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27009889)

Don't buy programs with overbearing EULAs.

If that were to happen we'd need a consumer watchdog (e.g. Money Saving Expert) keeping an eye on which software does have these EULAs, as it's beyond the ability of most people to tell, and you normally have to hand over your cash before they tell you the EULA.

Performs as advertised (5, Insightful)

oheso (898435) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010025)

They'll still need the EULA to say that you have no right to expect the software to do anything but trash your system -- not even to perform as advertised.

Re:Performs as advertised (3, Interesting)

Hoplite3 (671379) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010571)

This sets software apart from many other industries that have "satisfaction guaranteed" with some suitable asterisk. I just bought a new backpack and it came with a lifetime guarantee. I know software can't expect to match that, but the difference between "satisfaction guaranteed" and "you agree to let us make flames shoot out your computer" is really extreme.

Reverse Engineering (1)

Ignis Flatus (689403) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010087)

Isn't Reverse Engineering the real thing that EULAs don't protect against? In any case, people really do buy software outright, and the fact that we have EULAs is a pretty good indication that without the agreement, outright purchase is implied. So if you leave out the EULA, maybe you are implicitly giving permission to copy.

Re:Reverse Engineering (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010479)

DMCA & Patents & Copyrights (The Three Evils of /.) take care of that. On the other hand, we have first-sale doctrine and similar.

Still in bounds of "Obeying the Law" EULA.

Really, businesses have tools other than EULA, which is there to mostly just scare people with legaleese.

Don't violate me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27010105)

Don't violate me would have a better ring to it. Especially if you get it tattooed on you and end up going to prison. After all, we know how people will obey EULAs out of the goodness of their heart.

Loaning an mp3 ?? (5, Insightful)

soliptic (665417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010347)

Right. When people transfer MP3, it's definitely like "loaning". Because when someone else gets a copy of my MP3s, I don't have it and can't listen to it for the duration they have it. And when they've finished checking it out, they delete it, naturally, since a "loan" is distinct from a "gift" in that it's temporary. Riiiight.

I'm sorry, but this is just disingenuous bullshit and really does you no favours. (You = the collective group of people trying to reform copyright.) How come every time the RIAA/MPAA/MSM/etc use the word "steal", people fall over themselves to split semantic hairs and insist that it can't be stealing because nobody is deprived of the original - and yet when it's convenient for their cause, they happily play the same linguistic tricks and talk of "loan", again implying the loaner is deprived of the original, when they're not?

Don't get me wrong - I have some issues with excessive copyright too. That whole "it's supposed to be for the encouragement of artists to create and the advancement of culture and society as a whole, not for endless profit generation for huge multinational corps trading off the past" is entirely up my street. I think life+70 is way too long. I think the DMCA and similar laws elsewhere are a bunch of crap. I hate DRM and as such have never purchased DRM'd music. So it's not like I'm trying to be an RIAA shill here.

But all that said, I find there is a frequent lack of honesty from the "copyright reformists", too. If it's not "loan", it's "share", another word that has warm and fuzzy implications and somewhat masks the reality of it. Let's be honest, when you put your MP3s on p2p it is nothing like sharing a toy with your little bro. You don't know the people leeching it, let alone like or respect them; you won't ever sit in the same room and share the experience of listening to it; above all, you aren't sacrificing any use of the MP3 yourself in order for them to have it - all of which are implied by warm and fuzzy words like "share".

Be honest. What you're actually doing is distributing a complete, perfect lossless copy, despite the fact the entire central notion of copyright is restricting who is allowed to distribute complete, perfect lossless copies.

If you honestly believe you should be allowed to do that, have the balls to stand up and actually say so and frame your argument as such. But don't come with these woolly words and metaphors of sharing (see above), home taping (not perfect copies), fair use (about excerpts, academic criticism, parody etc, none of which relate to Kazaa'ing your mp3s). It's just dishonest and undermines your entire position.

Re:Loaning an mp3 ?? (1)

pmarini (989354) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010523)

if it's so simple, have you ever tried to obtain a replacement copy of the software media (that is, the actual setup files) in case you lose the CD ?
heck, they will charge you for a full licence again !!

on the other hand, on many online shops where I can buy music, whenever I try to buy a second copy of a song that I like and I want to send as a gift to a friend, the shop doesn't actually have this feature at all, and simply points me to the download section of what I have already purchased...

I wonder who designs (as in, thinks of the functionalities of) these things... broken licences and broken shopping websites...

people is being "sectorialised" even in life, and is not able to see beyond their own nose anymore... get a book and read, go out and enjoy nature, eat healthy food and don't spend hours at a screen...

my point here is that copyright is obfuscated by bad trade practices: give a song, movie, software the right price (fair to the author and affordable for the buyer, not driven by silly "maximum profit for distributor" logic) and piracy will disappear the day after !

Re:Loaning an mp3 ?? (2, Insightful)

soliptic (665417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012731)

if it's so simple, have you ever tried to obtain a replacement copy of the software media (that is, the actual setup files) in case you lose the CD ?
heck, they will charge you for a full licence again !!

This sort of thing is definitely bullshit and really winds me up. If your original payment was for the license, that should be valid forever, and if you lose the CD, you should pay (at most) for the media and postage to replace it.

But you're almost making my point for me here. That sort of thing is bullshit, so attack that directly. Say, "I am downloading this software 'illegally' because as per the company's EULA I have already paid not for my original media but for a (lifetime) license to the IP therein, yet the company is abusing the spirit of copyright by not honouring that purchase...". Don't say "Oh, I'm just sharing some software between friends, it's no different to borrowing my mate's lawnmower".

Copyright isn't going to be reformed unless the problems with it are attacked with intellectual consistency and honesty.

Re:Loaning an mp3 ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27010629)

I really wish I had mod points for you. That's an excellent post and I couldn't agree more.

Minor issues (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011019)

Minor points.

When people transfer MP3, it's definitely like "loaning". Because when someone else gets a copy of my MP3s, I don't have it and can't listen to it for the duration they have it. And when they've finished checking it out, they delete it, naturally, since a "loan" is distinct from a "gift" in that it's temporary.

Kind of like how the Zune works. More companies (apple) should use a similar system.

Be honest. What you're actually doing is distributing a complete, perfect lossless copy, despite the fact the entire central notion of copyright is restricting who is allowed to distribute complete, perfect lossless copies.

MP3 is lossy. What they're distributing are lossy copies of CD's, they just don't degrade any further. Most people do distrubute MP3's of CD rips, they don't distribute ISO's of their audio. Perfect lossy copies would be more accurate.

Again, this is a minor point, I think that randomly distributing MP3s is on par with randomly distributing tape copies.

Re:Minor issues (1)

soliptic (665417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012615)

MP3 is lossy. What they're distributing are lossy copies of CD's, they just don't degrade any further. Most people do distrubute MP3's of CD rips, they don't distribute ISO's of their audio. Perfect lossy copies would be more accurate.

Yes, that's what I meant; I do know MP3s are lossy as compared to the CD, I was talking about lossless within the pirate distribution. i.e. If I send you my MP3, the file you end up with is lossless as compared to the MP3 I started with. And if you then send the MP3 to someone else, that's equally lossless -- and so on for infinite generations.

Which is why

I think that randomly distributing MP3s is on par with randomly distributing tape copies

I can't entirely agree with this, personally.

Speak for yourself, white man. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011833)

I don't put my mp3s on Kazaa or Bittorrent or whatever the new distribution networks are. I'm not distributing perfect lossless copies. You don't have to be in favor of copyright violations to believe that the current legal environment for digital media is insane. So before you start painting the opponents of DRM as pirates, remember that there's a lot of us out there who think it makes you look like an astroturfer.

Re:Speak for yourself, white man. (1)

soliptic (665417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012519)

Sorry, but are you dim? How on earth you managed to read my post and interpret that I'm claiming anybody who opposes DRM is a pirate, is rather beyond me. As for astroturfer, I'm even more baffled, do you even know what that means? Which product am I supposed to be puffing up with my abstract discussion of law and language?

The post was aimed at those people who do in fact pirate, who do distribute perfect lossless copies, and yet hide behind exactly the same innaccurate, disengenuous language they decry the RIAA for using. If you don't pirate, or if you do pirate but call it what it is, then the post was relating to you.

What I'm saying is that if you have a decent argument why you should be able to do that (and I by no means claim there is no such argument), you should step forward and make that argument - not fuzzy the issue by saying you only want fair use when you actually want more than that, or whatever. Or, alternatively, just admit that, yeah, you're pirating, tough shit.

Fact is, I've p2p'd more than a few MP3s myself in my time. I'm sworn off it now, but I still pass MP3s to and from my mates via sneakernet. But the point is, I'm not kidding myself by saying I "loaned" my mate the mp3, or that it's "exactly the same" as making him a C90 twenty years ago. I gave him a copy, and it was perfect, and I did so despite copyright explicitly preventing me from doing so. I broke the law, and while I may have a bunch of mitigating factors ("he liked it so much he came to see their next gig, from which they probably made more money than the MP3 sales would have generated"), I'm not confusing that with the media companies' meaningless EULA's somehow being the problem whilst I'm a saint and no shade of grey.

In short: yes, the current legal environment for digital media is insane. But I'm suggesting an internally consistent reaction to that is preferable - even if that reaction is "so fuck the law, I'll break it", that's internally consistent. If that reaction is "the law should be changed to XYZ because of ABC", better still. But "I'm only loaning somebody this tune, that's not illegal" is just a bunch of crap that makes you sound stupid and adds credence to the major media lobby, because no you're not loaning to them, and yes it is. And intellectual dishonesty of that sort is not the way the laws will ever be sanely reformed.

Re:Speak for yourself, white man. (1)

soliptic (665417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012753)

Oh for an "edit" function on slashdot.

If you don't pirate, or if you do pirate but call it what it is, then the post was not relating to you

Fixed That For Myself

offtopic: Doctor "Ow"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27010615)

I know I'm offtopic and I'll get modded as such I'm sure, but I find the name "Doctor Ow" to be funny every time I see it.
It's like "Dentist Ache" or "Surgeon Holycrapthathurts"

Pointless (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010645)

A EULA that said "Don't violate copyright law" is not a EULA at all... so why bother? I see no motivation to do this. Having no EULA would accomplish the same thing.

Re:Pointless (1)

Throtex (708974) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010707)

And would also give the end-user no rights to the product, or at the very least would muddle the issue far more than any complex EULA would. You'd have to go to court in every case to figure out what the understanding of the parties was.

It still perplexes me how most Slashbots, many who come from engineering and science backgrounds and should therefore be somewhat inquisitive, can't be bothered to think legal issues through in any sort of intelligent manner. Being dismissive of the whole thing accomplishes nothing, no matter what your world view is. That's not an argument, it's mere contradiction!

Copyright Law is Already "The Law" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27010665)

Dear Slashbots,

An EULA will only ever give you more rights than you started off with. It may limit those rights, but you will end up with more "sticks" from the "bundle of sticks" than when you started by virtue of your purchase. Period. No one is taking your rights away, they may just be giving you fewer rights than another.

What agreement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27010829)

Why would you read and agree to anything to install software? Installing software consists of clicking some boxes, and picking which directory to install it in. There was no signature, no contract documents. Just some clicking in boxes that weren't read in order to get the software to install.
      Random clicking in boxes does not a contract make.

I suggest Final EULA Solution (1)

Von Helmet (727753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010835)

nt

Copyright powers are very limited (1)

Budenny (888916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27010939)

The problem for some vendors is that their powers strictly under the law of copyright are very limited. You cannot simply by copyright limit what hardware someone installs software on. So Apple could say goodbye to its prohibition on installing OSX on only Apple hardware. MS could say goodbye to its prohibition on installing Office on any OS other than Windows.

The reason vendors need click through EULAs is that they consititue a different contract from the contract of purchase of a copy of the software, they are independent of copyright rights, and they permit civil suits for breach of contract if some or all of the terms are broken.

Apple, for instance, sells you a copy at retail. The only thing you are now forbidden to do by copyright is make unauthorized copies - and the copies you make in the course of installation are specifically authorized in the legislation. So if Apple wants to restrict what you install on, it must persuade you to enter into a separate contract where you agree to be so restricted. This it does by click-through. It has every right to do that of course - it is selling you a copy under certain conditions which you agree to. In the same way, a company could sell you a book and as a condition, ask you to consent to not taking it to the park to read. You do not have to buy it, but if you buy it, and if you sign up to that agreement, you really have agreed not to read it in the park. The contractual clause may not be enforceable, but that's a different issue.

Copyright alone will not give them any rights to stop you reading it wherever you want. It just prohibits unauthorized copying.

This click through contract still may not be enforceable, but it is at least a contract which you have signed up to by the click through, and it does actually prohibit what Apple is seeking to stop.

So, we are not going to see software companies give up EULAs. And if they should be legislated against, you can be sure that Apple among others will be up there lobbying. The argument will be, that the power to restrict what brand of hardware people install stuff on is vital to the future of the software industry. You do want a software industry, don't you? I thought so. Oh, while we are talking, do you need any help with re-election?

The Cory Event Horizon (0)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27011937)

What is he prattling on about now?

Re:The Cory Event Horizon (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012621)

He is attempting to place a plate of vegetables under the nose of a fussy 4 year old.

Against stupidity, Doctorow himself contend in vain

There's a reason (2, Insightful)

comrade.putin (1235862) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012239)

I think there's a reason to elaborate on every single point in the EULA. And the reason is -
They don't want you to read it. By making the EULA 50 pages long, it makes it very easy to hide something ridiculous in it. Just look back and Sony and their rootkit. And countless others. Plus, if they decide to take you to court, they want to play on their field, by their rules. And by making rules that don't quite go together with copyright law, the jurisdiction becomes the contract law. And in that contract they have covered their ass in so many different ways, it's almost impossible to do anything. Look at the EULA for your cellular plan. You aren't even allowed to sue them, participate in class-action, or make any sort of claims against them.
There is of course a way to get around that, but it will take a very strong Supreme Court judge to do so.

Oblig. Crowley EULA (1)

seven of five (578993) | more than 5 years ago | (#27012613)

"Do what thou willt"
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