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Hiding Your Choices And Saying You Made Them

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the lowest-underbelly-of-the-lowest-snake dept.

Spam 537

An anonymous reader writes "Lawmeme's Paul Szynol describes how during installation RealPlayer hides checkboxes that elect that the user receives spam, making it look like the user chose to make the selections when in fact he probably just didn't see the options. "This is essentially a cheap and dirty marketing tactic which creates an illusion of informed acceptance by the user where no such acceptance really exists." Other people have posted similar examples from other applications. Is this illegal, or just annoying?"

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Programming is an unnatural act. (-1)

varak_mathews (592911) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096323)

Programming is an unnatural act.

FIST PISS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096328)

Hidden so you cant see it!

Kame hame ha!

First Reply! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096349)

First Reply!

16JAN03 lunch (-1)

Guns n' Roses Troll (207208) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096335)

* Two golumbki (stuffed cabbage)
* Bag of Lays BBQ kettle-cooked chips
* Snapple Raspberry Iced Tea

Total cost - $6.82
Yummyness scale - 6/10

version 6 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096337)

In Soviet Russia, choices hide YOU!

My feeling is... (2, Insightful)

suman28 (558822) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096338)

If they don't show the choices at all, then this hopefully is illegal. I did accept it, but I accepted the choices given to me. But then what do I know. I am no lawyer.

Re:My feeling is... (3, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096381)

No, the choices are there but you'd have to scroll down to see them, or some such. Just like you have to bust out the Owl Eyes(tm) to read the fine print on a loan application.

Re:My feeling is... (2, Informative)

greechneb (574646) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096395)

The choices are technically there. IF you scroll down, it will show all the choices. However, at first glance, it appears that there are only the 4 top choices.

The author is talking more about using tactics such as that, or obfuscated language to make users sign up unintentionally. By default most installations have choices for email set to yes by default, so people who next-click through the install agree to giving their souls away by clicking next.

Re:My feeling is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096409)

You have to scroll down slightly to see the already checked choices. Yes, this might be a little bit of trickery, but I doubt it can be considered illegal.

I usually register my software under an e-mail address I rarely check... I use another e-mail account for purchasing stuff... and I use another account still for work and private e-mail. Luckily it doesn't seem like my work or private e-mail gets spammed because I don't plaster it all over everything that asks for an e-mail address.

Re:My feeling is... (1)

MSZ (26307) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096554)

Just like FinePrint(tm) or some extremely complex and convoluted clauses in contracts, this isn't illegal.

It is, however, immoral.

Some people don't like immoral but technically legal tricks.

flp!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096339)

first law p05+ y'a;lll!!!

Screenshot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096341)

Does anyone have a screen shot of this, or know where to find one online?

Real addresses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096342)

What people actually use their real email addresses?

I havent entered a legit, non hotmail for spam only email address in a registration form in years.

Re:Real addresses? (1)

KDan (90353) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096485)

What people actually install RealAudio on their machine?

Oh, those people...
Don't they deserve to be spammed until they learn??



Implied Consent (4, Funny)

Flounder (42112) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096343)

IANAL, but I'm sure somewhere in the EULA, they've written themselves a loophole.

BTW, isn't it ironic that the acronym for I Am Not A Lawyer is I Anal??

Re:Implied Consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096452)

I think you're right. As long as some courts keep giving EULAs even a shred of legitimacy, stuff like this will continue to happen. The only sensible thing to do is get those silly "contracts" tossed out as 100% unenforceable. They are every bit as bad as the DMCA.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

FFON (266696) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096344)


Illegal? (4, Insightful)

Prior Restraint (179698) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096346)

Is this illegal, or just annoying?

Okay, I'll offer myself up as the sacrificial lamb and ask the obvious: Why would this be illegal?

Re:Illegal? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096406)

Well, right off the bat it is misrepresentation.
In this case Real claiming that I made a choice when in fact I did not.

In a physical world example it would be like giving me a contract to sign but removing several pages from it. i.e. Not just sections that I jump over because it is awkward to review ala most EULA.

Unreadably small fine print and defaulted check boxes are one thing. This is certainly a new level of sleaze that has been acheived.

Re:Illegal? (-1)

govtcheez (524087) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096465)


>In this case Real claiming that I made a choice when in fact I did not.

It's no different than any other opt-out system - the boxes are on by default and hidden until you scroll down. It's not as if they're invisible. They're just off the page.

>In a physical world example it would be like giving me a contract to sign but removing several pages from it.

A better analogy would be putting claims on the backside of some pages and never saying that there are more sections there.

Re:Illegal? (1)

burnetd (90848) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096515)

Actually its more like putting the EULA on two sides of a page, but having the signature area on the first page.

Re:Illegal? (0, Insightful)

suman28 (558822) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096408)

I agree with this poster. This is not illegal because it is your responsibility to read everything before you sign a document or accept any dialog box. If you don't read it or don't understand it, then it's your problem.

Re:Illegal? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096448)

Because some folks can't get up the nerve to get indignant about anything unless it's illegal. Especially on Slashdot, if you complain about someone who does something rude or inconsiderate, the inevitable response is: "It's a free country. What are you, some kinda communist?" Not only is this behavior not illegal, but it SHOULDN'T EVER be illegal. But it's still wrong! [If this comment gets modded up, there will be tons of responses from people who don't understand the concept of something being wrong and not illegal, but have no trouble at all with things that are illegal but not wrong]

Re:Illegal? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096461)

Because it bothers the poster.

RealPlayer is slimy and evil, but we need fewer laws not more of them. We need more personal responsibility not less. Boycot Real, tell websites that you use to do the same, publicize their intent, but for goodness' sake don't involve the politicians.

first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096347)

first? probably not

Cyber-fine print (1, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096350)

I doubt it's illegal so long as the information is present and available if you look for it.

I dont think it has to be obvious.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096352)

Little boys download naked pictures of Pete Townshend!!

humm? (0, Troll)

NWT (540003) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096353)

RealPlayer, because you really really checked that checkbox. really!!

Simple solution... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096354)

Your email address is now ''. Despite what Trust-E has to say, Real has a history of ignoring privacy matters. I've never in the history of my using RealPlayers put in an actual email address, other than something with an @ and a .com in it. They can market to /dev/null all they like.

Re:Simple solution... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096541)

Thanks you insensitive clod. My email address is, and I have always wondered why I get all this junk mail from Real!

Re:Simple solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096544)

No, your email address is you can create an infinite email loop... And your phone number is 800-444-8011 (also Real).

spam account (1)

jenssoderberg (523466) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096357)

This is where your email spam account comes into play.

Re:spam account (2, Interesting)

squarefish (561836) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096450)

This is where your email spam account comes into play.

Actually you don't even need to use your spam account for the realplayer setup- it doesn't authenticate the address for you to use the player.
Mine currently set for ''

They deserve it! (4, Funny)

xmuskrat (613243) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096358)

Getting spam is almost as bad as... using RealPlayer. At least they are consistant.

OT: Slash update? (0, Offtopic)

stevey (64018) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096362)

Is it just me, or did Slashdot get a code update sometime today?

Things seem slightly different, even the comment posting box - it now says 'no karma bonus' instead of 'no +1 bonus' for me.

Isn't this newsworthy? .. I noticed one bug - in a story page there's a link to my homepage in the top right, the link is broken, it's prefixed with ''

Sorry for the interruption

Re:OT: Slash update? (1, Offtopic)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096472)

Yeah, I noticed that too.
Even with "excellent" karma, it doesn't mod to +2 automatically anymore. Not that I mind, but I'm sure there's a few karma-whores tearing out their short and curlies with frustration :)

Oh no! (2, Funny)

robbyjo (315601) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096365)

If BillG read this, he'll likewise hide the EULA textbox or change the button to "I agree" and "I agree".

And? (5, Insightful)

invenustus (56481) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096367)

I've noticed this for years. It seems like every time you redownload RealPlayer, it gets a little shadier. First it's harder and harder to find the free player on their site. Then they think of newer and better ways to trick you into accepting spam.

It never bothered me, though. You don't have to give them a real email address ( [mailto] is a good one to use), and I mostly find the whole cat-and-mouse game amusing. I never considered it worth submitting to Slashdot....

Re:And? (1)

ManUMan (571203) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096433)

If you want to unsubscribe to their newsletter, you can do so here: r= []

If that doesn't work, I suggest a rule for your email that takes all of their email and dumps it in the trash. --JS

Re:And? (0, Redundant)

zephc (225327) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096462)

I tend to put as my email address in everything

I hope Rob is enjoying the lesbian porn...

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096506)

>I hope Rob is enjoying the

I hope you actually spell slashdot correctly when you do this ;-p

Re:And? (5, Interesting)

bafu (580052) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096479)

I scroll down to all the hidden items in the install and uncheck everything, etc., etc., but yeah, they don't get a real email address from me, either. Other than dusting off and nuking them from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

What's more annoying to me is the way that RealOne on my Windows box kept clamoring for attention after awhile (telling me I have "a message", etc.). I turned off everything I could find to turn off and it kept it up. Finally I turned off RealOne and went back to rp8. If that option ever becomes unusable, I'll just do without entirely. I don't know what their business model is, but the more it involves annoying me, the less I am inclined to keep it around...

Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096369)

I just enter a fake e-mail address when prompted for one.

Not hidden but definitely buried (2, Informative)

Mothra the III (631161) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096373)

I notice many the forms on websites have a large number of fields and that somewhere buried in the middle is the check box for whether you want to receive "additional information or offers". If you are not paying careful attention, it is easy to miss. It also seems that these boxes are checked by default.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096377)

Spam finds YOU! Wait a minute....

I firewall Realplayer. (5, Informative)

Bonker (243350) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096382)

Let's face it. There's stuff out there that you want to see that comes in real format. If it's not downloadable, then I skip it. But if it is downloadable and not restricted to stream-only playback, then I don't hesitate to fire up Real Player, secure in the knowledge that it will never be able to communicate my personal details.

Learn to use software firewalls if you can. Hardware firewalls are great for keeping people from attacking you, but software firewalls are great for managing misbehaving software installations like Realplayer. I've never had a better security tool.

Re:I firewall Realplayer. (1)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096507)

Can you provide details on how you did that?

Re:I firewall Realplayer. (1)

aengblom (123492) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096542)

get software firewall. It will ask if Real-player is allowed to play outside of your computer. (Read send informatin to internet). Say no.

Probably falls into same field as minimum textsize (5, Interesting)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096385)

While I don't know the laws on minimum text size, I am sure that a company cannot make you sign something in .001pt Times New Roman. This is probably very illegal for them to do, and they will probably get away with it...

Re:Probably falls into same field as minimum texts (3, Informative)

(trb001) (224998) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096488)

No, no, doesn't. Because a EULA goes multiple pages does not that mean you are not obligated to obey it because you couldn't read the whole thing. You are responsible, as an end user, for reading all the documentation that is provided. If there are documents referred to by links, it's your responsibility to read those as well.

These are similar to the reasons why people hire don't want to get screwed by some hidden text somewhere that you were too lazy to read, so you have someone else read it for you. Taxes? Same thing, lots of small, hidden text. These are all *legal* documents, they're just obfuscated.

I hate EULA's and the like as much as the next guy, but it's your responsibility as a user to read through stuff that the product provider wants you too. Otherwise, you are subject to their default intentions (which are probably ill, in this case).


Re:Probably falls into same field as minimum texts (1)

eXtro (258933) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096543)

I don't think it's actually illegal since they don't try to represent it as a legal contract. It's definately unethical, but companies, especially Real, have never been too worried about ethics.

If this were an actual contract there would be certain legal requirements designed that both sides of the contract at least have the potential of being on equal footing.

In case of slashdotting... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096386)

The lawyer has informed us that we need a warning! So..
if you are under the age of 18 or find this photograph offensive,
please don't look at it. Thank you!
__________________________________________________ _______________


IMPORTANT NOTE: There are many merchandising attempts for
around the web-- none of them are real, none of them are official.
Do not buy this gimmick merchandise. The official
merchandise is coming soon!

[ the giver ] [ feedback ] [ contrib ]

__________________________________________________ _______________

One more reason to not to install non-GPL software (2, Insightful)

Stephenmg (265369) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096387)

If we have to risk making "choices" that we had no idea about to install priatary software, then why install it?

No kidding (5, Interesting)

kableh (155146) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096388)

This has always bugged me about Real Player. Their newest player installs a lame little executable, that isn't easy to get rid of, that starts up their little message center in the system tray. It was bad enough with their old version which loaded RealPlayer every time you booted, but at least you could turn it off.

These days, if it is encoded in Real it isn't worth my time to watch. I make sure everyone I know is aware of this too.

Re:No kidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096521)

>>These days, if it is encoded in Real it isn't worth my time to watch. I make sure everyone I know is aware of this too.


If you dont like it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096389)

Dont use it!

Is anyone surprised? (1)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096390)

Real writes the pushiest software there is and they have a history of public lying on these matters, such as Glaser's testimony before a Senate committee.

If you're stupid enough to use your real address.. (2, Interesting)

Flounder (42112) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096391)

then you deserve to get spam. That's what Hotmail is for. Gives you a free address that you don't care about, and soaks up bandwidth that Microsoft has to pay for. It's a win-win.

Re:If you're stupid enough to use your real addres (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096508)

or do what I do - use

The question is... (1)

AnonymousComrade (465177) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096393)

...why would you even give them your email address to begin with? Entering -@-.- during installation has always worked fine for me.

Re:The question is... (1)

hbean (144582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096423)

either that or

Default options (2, Interesting)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096396)

Maybe software should come completely unconfigured, with all options set to some kind of null value. It'd be a lot less user-friendly that way, but in another respect it'd at least be user-respectful.

I can't stand Real media, and haven't had their player installed on my systems for a few years now. Unfortunately, it means I have to pass on a lot of content that is only available in that format -- including NPR archive broadcasts, of all things. It's particularly galling that *public* funded radio archives are made available to the public in a format that is not Free.

Why can't websites publish streaming video in some kind of open format that doesn't suck? What's wrong with ogg or mpeg?

It's just not informed consent... period (1)

BetterThanJimbo (580062) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096400)

Why is it not just that simple?

  • - People did not say they opted-in.
    • - All further communication was thus not given permission.

    • Proving it would be hard. I mean, this message could have a ^B^B^B^B^B^B^B.

      Thanks for subscribing! We'll never share your email address with anyone. Heh.

hotmail and the like (1)

Ma$ta_P!ng (261940) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096402)

I've always used a hotmail account when registering for products|software|websites. That way no spam comes to the account that I normally use for business and personal use.

plastic wrapper syndrome (1)

CySurflex (564206) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096403)

Is this any different than many software companies practice of saying "By opening the plastic wrapper, you agree to our EULA".

Annyoing (1)

First_In_Hell (549585) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096411)

It is as annoying as Gator's crap, and Kaza's spyware. If anyone was unfortunate enough to have this stuff implanted on their machine you know what I mean. Real is no better, they are spam kings as well.

The best bet is to not use them.

Already knew that. (5, Interesting)

da3dAlus (20553) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096414)

I noticed that quite a while back when I installed RealPlayer. I say it's annoying just because I have to remember to disable those checkboxes. I also say it's gotta hurt them, because it makes me place my feelings about Real (the company) at a very low level. I don't think it's illegal, and I know they're out to make money like everyone else. However, I say don't screw over your customers, and they'll come back. Piss them off, and you will certainly regret it later. And yes, I know the RealPlayer I download is the free version, and I'm not technically a customer, but if they pull that stuff with me on the free products, I can only imaging the "features" they'll put in the big version I pay for. Again, my opinion of them is quite low because of their tactics.

been there for a while now (5, Informative)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096418)

Yep, know exactly what the article is referring to. There's a scrolling box for 'we can market these things to you:' and by default none of the visible checkboxes are marked. However, if you actually scroll the box there are 5 (i think) options at the bottom of the list that are checked.

Tricky Tricky Tricky

And this isn't just on installation, it happens if you fully open RealPlayer to change the stupid take-over-your-computer prefferences.

This is one (of the many) reasons why I don't install RealPlayer on any of my machines, and encourage friends to remove it from theirs. If sites don't have their downloadable content in an alternative format (QT, WM, MP3, Ogg, i don't care which) I just won't watch/listen to it.

I'm doing my part to force 'em out of business. Sure, they are providing competition for MS/Apple, but I find their business practices despicable.

Of course it is not legal. (3, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096419)

But that has not stopped people before. P.S. the End User Agreement itself has NEVER been found to be legal. If they do not get a real honest to god SIGNATURE, than it does not stand up in court.

Well duh.. (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096420)

How about using a fake or secondary address for Real et al? It's a good idea to have separate (e.g. webmail) address for things that require it (for instance to send you your password) but look like spambaits otherwise.

Vertical Scroll Bars (1)

cscx (541332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096421)

I can use 'em. Can you?

Not surprising (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096422)

Real Player is also spyware according to this: []

illegal in france (4, Informative)

Spaham (634471) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096425)

In France, if I'm not mistaken, they risk either or both 300k euros (same in $), and/or 5 years in prison. But since their scam is also practiced on french users, I guess someone could sue them for that. check out for more info

how bout neither? (1)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096426)

While it may (or may not be) legal, (I have no idea and wont even posit a guess) it is annoying, but even more importantly, it is
unethical and that probably worries me more than the other two.

there is nothing to stop people from being both illegal and annoying.. they do it all the time.. in fact I suspect a number of companies engage in practices knowing full well they will be declared illegal in the future, but for now they get away with it. However, I would hope they realize unethical would mean loss of business from people who have ethics.

Caveat being, this is slashdot, and while we hold a definite majority here, in the "real world" we are but a drop in the bucket of the rabid consumer.


Oh yeah! (1)

john_is_war (310751) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096428)

No spam for me, I don't use Real Player! In your face spam factories!

Like hotmail and yahoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096431)

Hotmail and yahoo both have neat tidy clauses that allow you to opt-out of receiving mailings from them, however once that big feel good is over and dealth with, they will reveal to advertisers any email address you email to without mentioning that they do. Why? because it's not a current concern. It's performing actionsin secrecy, in a similar way to these mildly stealthy tactics described in the article.

Now I know why... (1)

stankulp (69949) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096432)

...I refuse to install RealPlayer anymore.

RealPlayer cannot commandeer your computer if you don't install it.

When Companies Want My E-Mail Address... (1, Redundant)

n3rd (111397) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096440)

...I always give them . So when I installed Real Player they got to send spam to .

Why do I do this? First, because it's ALWAYS a valid e-mail address. Second, it's to let the company know I don't approve of them selling my e-mail address. I am sure to uncheck all of the "send me special offers" type boxes and everything else, but if they are going to sell my e-mail address without my knowledge I feel they deserve it.

Oh, the irony... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096446)

People commenting on Real getting more and more annoying and tricky, and then...

Down at the bottom of the page, the fortune cookie: No one becomes depraved in a moment. -- Decimus Junius Juvenalis

I suppose not... (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096460)

Is this illegal, or just annoying?

IANAL. Of course, if you wanted a real legal opinion, you'd ask a real lawyer. So here's my best guess:

There is no legal issue at stake here. Real doesn't need to ask your permission to send you spam any more than Laurent Kabila's widow and toner salesmen do. If a law were passed banning opt-out spam, then there would be an issue as to whether this constitutes opt-in.

The linked site, which does seem to be by an actual lawyer raises the question of legality, but in a hypothetical question about whether a similar technique could be used in an EULA. There seems to be precedent that it would be invalid.

Real Player (2, Insightful)

koan (80826) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096466)

I refuse to use real any longer and the truth of the matter is they are hurting them selves with these types of cheap tricks.
I only wish I could convince people putting up media on the web to not encode using real.

Who uses their real e-mail address? (1)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096467)

I never provide my real e-mail address to any of these people -- RealPlayer, New York Times, etc. etc.

Just have your SPAM sent to and be done with it!

Is this illegal, or just annoying? (1)

GMontag (42283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096468)

"To my mind, this is irregular. It is un-English; it is un-American; it is French."*

Not sure if it is illegal, probably not, but it sure as hell is annoying!

*From Mark Twain's Essay "Concerning the Jews" []
caution, many popups and unders at that stupid link

What's the F'ing problem? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096473)

The boxes aren't hidden. They're at the bottom of a scroll window. So they chose to auto-check the last four. Big F'ing Deal. That should teach people to make sure they pay attention to ALL of the settings when installing software.

Move along. Nothing to see here.

EULAs (1)

Drachemorder (549870) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096482)

If click-through EULAs that you aren't even presented with until after you've bought the software are legal, this must legal too. It's basically the same principle.

Of course, both are dishonest and wrong, but alas, that's not the same as illegal.

Contract Law (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096494)

They are using the point you agreed to accept this stuff. I think this would be a contract of sorts.

If someone makes a deceptive contract to fool you into accepting it, it may not be valid.

This was a large issue with informed consent, and I think this issue was brought when people were electing to risky medical procedures because they didn't fully understand the risks.

ummh, So what's the big deal? (1)

kilroy_hau (187226) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096496)

If you RTFA, it clearly states that the options are there, you just have to use a scroll bar to see them.

Then I don't see what the problem is. You don't sign a contract without full reading it do you. Even if there are checkboxes behind a scroll bar, you must read all and make your infromed consent.

MPlayer (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5096504)

This is why things like are so darned good. It can play the RealPlayer format with having to use the evil, user-unfreindly RealPlayer.

And MPlayer is open source so they can't hide this kind of crap on you

Sorry Windows people...this is a Linux thing (and yes, you can stream .rm with it)

Axiom: Consumer beware! (1)

elrick_the_brave (160509) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096511)

I like old phrases from regular advertising & sales:
You get what you pay for.
Consumer beware!
Everything comes with a price.
Read the contract.
Read the fine print.
No one can force you into a contract.
Eyes wide and mind open.
If it looks too good to be true... it is.

Simple rules I follow when dealing with anything commercial.

illegal vs. enforceable contracts (2, Insightful)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096512)

IANAL, but this is something that anyone over the age of 12 should understand. Just because something is not "illegal" (or unlawful) doesn't mean that it's fully accepted. There is a gray area.

If you force me to sign a contract, it may not be illegal. But it will be unenforceable - contracts must be entered into freely.

If I sign a contract, then you change the pages in the middle, it may not be illegal. But it will definitely be unenforceable - you can't change contracts after the fact without the consent of all parties.

And in this particular case, you can't hold somebody to a contract if parts of it are never disclosed. It's one thing for the EULA to explicitly give them the right to do something on a "take it or leave it" basis, it's a very different thing for them to have hidden (or unduely hard to find) checkboxes to "prove" you agreed to optional terms.

This is the reason why every(?) court that has looked at EULAs has held them to be unenforceable - why the companies felt it necessary to force the issue via the UCITA.

Well, my state hasn't passed UCITA and I consider EULAs basically null and void precisely because of their widespread abusive use.

Not really hiding (1)

Shagg (99693) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096516)

If I read the article correctly, they're not really "hiding" the options. They're all displayed where the user can get to them, you just need to scroll a window in order to see them all. The article is complaining that a user could hit the "Next" button without scrolling the window. If someone accepts default options without scrolling down the window and reading them, they sort of deserve what they get.

Didn't have any problem with it (2, Insightful)

joshv (13017) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096522)

As I recall, I noted that it was a scroll box, scrolled down, and unchecked everything. - thought it was sleazy, but I caught it.

I avoid using RealPlayer at all these days - I can rest assured that if I have not used it in two weeks , when I fire it up it will ask "There is a new version of Real One player available, would you like to update?".

Anything that needs updating this frequently is a massive POS in my mind.


spamassassin gets a two thumbs up from me (1)

AssFace (118098) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096524)

I've found that since I installed spamassassin, I no longer really care if things are sending me spam or not.
I sure as hell never see them - aside from my "caughtspam" file growing in size everyday, and the pm.log that tells me what has been filtered...

I figure as more people get smart about filtering out the spam (yahoo and msn have this too right?), less spam will get through, and more companies will have to up their sleaze levels - so this is likely something we will see much more of.

that said, I can't say enough good things about spamassassin - I went from 500 spam emails a day down to maybe 5 that get throuh (and those are saved out to a "spam" folder that it reads every month and learns from so it gets even better).
my daily spam file looks to vary between half a meg and a meg in size - all mail that I never see in my inbox.

( - all free - I don't work for them, just love the product - even if I did, since it is free, I'm not sure what I would have to gain from it)

No laws agains stupidity... (2, Insightful)

Xerithane (13482) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096525)

Other people have posted similar examples from other applications. Is this illegal, or just annoying?

If you don't read the fine print, and agree to something, and it burns you, and you complain, you are stupid.

It's not illegal. I'm sure somewhere they fully detail out everything, so that the next person who thinks it's "illegal" and tries to launch a suit can be fed the EULA that they agreed to. It's like people bashing Gator for being shady spyware when they fully disclose on their website what they do in big bold letters.

Share this with sites that use Real format only (0)

kdanieli (624621) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096534)

For, you can email

Here's what I've sent them.

Dear NYTimes webmaster/editors:

Please refer to this article that underscores the need for the to provide content in formats other than "Real." e= News&file=article&sid=830&mode=&order=0&thold= 0

Real uses sneaky tactics to "take over" users' PCs and plays fast and loose with privacy and personal preferences.

By only issuing some content in only Real format, the New York Times has adopted the same regrettable personal privacy policies.

I urge you to forward this message to someone who makes policy decisions for the

Thank you,

an earlier email I sent to

I would like to see media clips on, but they are in
> .ram format
> which requires a product from to play them.
> I am opposed to using Real's products because real takes over the user's
> machine and infects it with spyware which violates privacy.
> The NYTimes should not have the news exclusively in this format. Real's
> invasive privacy policies have now become the NYTimes's policies.
> Please consider providing clips in a different format.
> Thank you.

Die, Real Message Service, Die! (2, Informative)

RealErmine (621439) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096548)

The thing I hate the most about Realplayer is the message service that it installs by default, without the user's knowledge. A few days after installation a little text box appears over the taskbar telling you that you have a message. In W2K the only way short of uninstalling that I could find to remove the message service is to edit the registry keys for startup programs.

Older versions used to add the taskbar launcher app. and change file associations without giving an obvious choice which was also annoying. Real has always been my least favorite media application for these reasons. I'm glad other people find their software annoying also.

How is this illegal? (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096549)

"There should be a law!!!" I hear it every day. I figure I'm in some socialist Green country, but then I realize I'm not. People are just unbelievable.

If someone gives you a contract in .001 font size, no it is not illegal. It is up to you to say "I won't sign this, and I won't use your product."

If someone decides to "hide" some options down a scroll list, or maybe on a back page, it is still your responsibility to see if there is more, before signing it.

If they ask you to "Accept" a 40 page long list of rules and rights you are relinquishing, it is not illegal -- its just lazy of you to scroll through it all haphazardly and click "Agree!" You don't need their product, so close the window and say screw it. Follow up with a letter to their management, and if enough people complain, maybe things will change.

If you enter a fake e-mail address in, THAT might be illegal. Check the text to see. If anything, entering "OK" and moving on just gives the companies the knowledge that you agree (which you do by accepting their terms). Don't regulate these guys with LAWS, regulate these guys with MARKET tactics.

There should never be "consumer rights." I hate that term. YOU are not a consumer, and THEY are not a producer. You are BOTH market exchangers. They are exchanging their product for either your money, your e-mail address, or your personal information. You feel that any of those items you are exchanging is worth less than their product. This is true of ANY market exchange. You produce your cash, or your address, or your information, they product an item or a service.

There are no magic "economic" theories behind any of this. This is common Austrian School of Economics theory. It works. Go check out to learn more.

Consumers don't exist. Producers don't exist. We're both just equal partners accepting one person's services or products for the bartered exchange for another.

Keep the government out of it.

Horrible (2, Insightful)

(trb001) (224998) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096551)

Is this illegal, or just annoying?

How can you even suggest this is illegal? These are default options. I guarantee you would be pissed as a first time user if Apache didn't come with default options. Whether or not this is in the best interest for the consumer is debatable, but easily justifiable by Real. A simple argument would be that the checked boxes provide helpful information to a new user (funny, i know, but bear with me).

This isn't a product where you must provide a legitimate email address to register. You're getting something for nothing, literally, and it was your choice to download. Skeazy, perhaps, but most certainly legal, and not a terribly large pain in the ass. Compare it to other applications out there (Gator comes to mind, that vile, repulsive worm of a legal piece of spyware) and I think you'll find this process is quite pleasant in comparison.


So let me get this straight... (1)

Mournblade (72705) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096552)

... he saw that some of the checkboxes to receive spam were not selected, so he *assumed* that all of the checkboxes were not selected? Hmmm. My grandma had one piece of advice when it came to assuming:


And BTW, someone who reads/posts to lawmeme ought to know better.

Yet another reason... (5, Funny)

morganjharvey (638479) | more than 11 years ago | (#5096553)

This is just another reason why I don't use RealPlayer -- I decode my streams by hand. I have the help of fourteen trained cats, and as the stream is "played' accross a readerboard in front of us we all translate it into .au format.
A central server compares all the files in realtime and averages them to compensate for any typing errors/drunkennes.
It's a surprisingly efficient system. Right now I'm listening to the White House's response to the leopard inspectors in Iraq who just found a forbidden stash of Gucci pants in an Iraqi bunker.
I'm eager to upgrade to a 28-cat system, thus effectively doubling my sample rate and allowing me to listen to stereo feeds and possibly even allow video by... er.... damn, I gotta get a life...
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