Sunday, December 26, 2004

Obnoxious shrink-wrap EULA's may have suffered a major legal defeat:
In January 2003, California resident Cathy Baker walked into her local CompUSA store to return copies of Windows XP and Norton AntiVirus she'd purchased there. When trying to install the programs, she had of course been confronted by all the obnoxious terms in the Windows and NAV End User License Agreements. Instead of clicking OK, she took them back to the store for a refund, as the EULAs said she was supposed to do if she refused to accept the terms.

At CompUSA, however, Baker was told the store's policy was that it could not give refunds for software once the customer has opened the package. Even though Baker had no way of seeing the EULAs until after she purchased the products, took them home, opened the package and tried to install the software on her computer, she was now told she could not get her money back even when she rejected the terms. (In a somewhat bizarre twist, after she protested enough, one CompUSA employee told her that they had "secret instructions" from Symantec to provide refunds in such circumstances.) So, like many others before her, Baker was confronted with the classic shrinkwrap license conundrum: She could only see the terms by opening the box, and opening the box meant she was stuck with it. But Baker did something most others before her had not - she went and got a lawyer...
(Via MBWHA.)