End User License Agreements (EULAs) are the contracts between a vendor or app developer and the customers that use the product. They specify any usage limitations and aim to cap a company’s liability.
However, some EULAs give organizations more permissions than people realize. Here’s how to spot potential risks.
1. Read the Document Carefully Before Accepting
In one example, a woman won $10,000 after an insurance company inserted a line in a terms and conditions document. The organization did it to prove that people usually don’t read through the content.
Other companies took a different approach, such as including content in an EULA that committed a person to 1,000 hours of community service or giving up their first-born child. The goal in all cases was to drive home how easily a company could contractually obligate a person to do something that puts them at risk.
Moreover, the EULA concept can apply to questions of product liability, even when there is no product manufacturing involved.
It takes time and effort to read an EULA, but doing it could pay off. Alternative but less thorough approaches include reading the sections about concerning topics or using the CTRL + F keyboard shortcut to find certain words or phrases.
2. Evaluate Whether Changed Circumstances Might Violate an EULA
An EULA includes specifics about how a person can or cannot use a product or service. Some clarifications often seem laughable. For example, an EULA for Apple’s iTunes service included a portion about not using it to make nuclear weapons.
However, limiting risk requires a person to look at anything in the EULA that applies to them now but might not forever. For example, an EULA might specify that the individual can only avail of a product or service while in the United States.
That could become a tricky requirement for someone who travels frequently or plans to move abroad soon. Service providers may not catch on right away if a person accesses a product or service in a different place. If they do notice, however, the company may cancel the user’s contract or even take legal action against them.
3. Seek Out Options from Legal Professionals
Although most companies use contractual language to limit their risk of lawsuits, those incidents can still happen. One case involved a suit over a Snapchat speed-recording filter linked to a car crash that killed three minors.
Consumers can reduce their risk, too, by consulting a legal professional before agreeing to an EULA. Company representatives hire experienced legal teams, knowing that multiple factors cause product-related accidents.
People without law backgrounds often struggle to understand legal documents. That’s likely why most of them accept the terms and hope for the best.
However, if a person notices red flags in an EULA, a legal professional could help them understand the implications of the content and advise about the possible risks. A lawyer can also advise what could invalidate an EULA.
Legal cases over the video game Fortnite involved minors consenting to EULAs without a parent’s knowledge or permission. Also, some states allow people under 18 to disaffirm something in an EULA after signing it.
4. Understand the Link Between Unauthorized Use and an EULA
Many companies take measures to stop people from using products in ways that violate an EULA. For example, generic product keys exist to help people install Microsoft products. People get free, limited access, but eventually must pay.
Microsoft displays messages that prevent people from using the generic keys. Even so, some users figure out how to circumvent them. However, doing that violates the EULA and poses a prosecution risk to the user.
People should never assume an even slightly unconventional product use falls within what the EULA permits. Reading the document verifies what it does or does not allow.
5. Know How the EULA Affects Other Documents
Awareness Minimizes Risks
Most product usage comes with potential dangers.
However, using these actionable tips to scrutinize an EULA before agreeing to it can reduce adverse consequences.
If you value your privacy, which you absolutely should, then there are a host of great resources to help you reverse the tide and regain control.
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