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Replace Your Legal Staff With Rubber Stamps

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Both Google and the Mozilla Foundation have teams of lawyers at their disposal, and presumably these fine assemblages of legal talent cost a pretty penny. Yet both companies received public spankings recently because of EULAs that apparently got drunk and placed themselves in the wrong applications. Then alert users actually read them, became justifiably outraged, and in minutes worked up umbrages all over the globe.

Google's EULA for the Chrome Web browser said in part:

"give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and nonexclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services."

Which is over-reaching in an unbelievably greedy way, and not really applicable to Web browsing anyway.

Mozilla stuffed an odd EULA into Firefox that committed these crimes:

  • Required a click-through agreement, which in a sane world would not be legally binding
  • Having to click a Firefox EULA each and every time you boot a LiveCD Linux is so much fun
  • EULAs are evil tools of proprietary abuse
  • FOSS licenses already spell out end user's rights, which are very liberal. EULAs are never about making life more pleasant for end users

These are the reasons given for the Firefox EULA:

"We still feel that something about the web services integrated into the browser is needed; these services can be turned off and not interrupt the flow of using the browser. We also want to tell

people about the FLOSS license — as a notice, not as as EULA or use restriction."

We must be forgiving of diplomatic blunders- after all, Firefox spends a lot of time in the Windows world, and can be excused for picking up some bad habits. But why would a lawyer approve an unnecessary EULA? One that's intended as an informational tool, rather than a legal document?

As every last trivial deed, thought, and action become subject to all sorts of legal contortions, to where a person can hardly break wind or scratch themselves without breaking some law, it seems more important than ever to have legal talent that actually pay attention. Otherwise why bother? Spend a few bucks on some custom rubber stamps and have a nice vacation with your savings.

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