greement) The legal agreement between the manufacturer and user of software that stipulates the terms of usage. Pronounced "you
-lah," the EULA is displayed with the installation dialog and requires users to agree in order to continue. Almost everyone universally agrees without reading it because the EULA is often long, full of legalese and quite dull.
Prior to downloadable software, the EULA was printed with the packaging and stated that removing the shrinkwrap from the box or discs was automatic acceptance.
We Are Not Liable for Anything
The EULA generally disclaims all liabilities for loss of data in the user's computer when the software is running. It generally guarantees nothing except that a defective disc will be replaced if there was physical media. EULAs are so inclusive that if the software computed 2+2=5, the disclaimer would likely apply. Whether that would hold up in court is another matter.
If this sounds like a license to make inferior software, the first EULAs were written when operating systems were much less stable and prone to crashing, and even the largest companies were unable to test their software with everything users might be running at the same time. However, the issue of liability has never been seriously challenged, and the customer takes all the risks.
The fact that people rarely read the agreement is a way for spyware to be legally distributed. Some EULAs explicitly state that additional software will be installed that reports the user's surfing habits or performs some other function.
A $1,000 Reward If You Read It!
In 2005, PC Pitstop really wanted to know if anyone ever reads all the text by offering a $1,000 reward at the end if the user emailed the company with a certain message. After five months and more than 3,000 downloads, somebody took the company up on its offer and received a check. See drive-by install
, concurrent use license
and per seat license
Would You Read It?
More than a decade ago, this EULA came via iTunes to the iPhone requesting agreement to 55 screenfuls of text. Most likely, everyone clicked Agree, trusting that Apple is an ethical company that means no harm but takes reasonable measures to protect itself.
They All Do It
This is a snapshot of all the text in a EULA for Epson software in 2022. Perhaps not 55 screenfuls as in the previous Apple example, but way more than anyone ever reads. Most every company, small, large and in-between demands users agree to legalese they never read. If a EULA is ever challenged in the courts after a user loses irreplaceable data, perhaps it might change an arrangement everyone knows is ridiculous.