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Adobe EULA Demands 7000 Years a Day From Humankind 224

Posted by timothy
from the just-really-fast-readers dept.
oyenamit writes "When was the last time you actually read and understood the EULA before installing a software? Never? You are not in a club of one. Unless you are a legal eagle, it would be almost impossible to fully understand what you are agreeing to. Consider this: The Adobe Flash installer has a EULA that is 3500 words long. Adobe claims that the software is downloaded eight million times a day. If each person takes 10 minutes to read (and understand!) the entire text, they would consume over 1,522 years in just one day. If we put that into man-hours: an 8hr day, 240 working days in a year, that becomes 6944 years in a day. Turn that into a 50-year working life and that's 138 lifetimes a day! The Register deconstructs the text that we all blindly agree to by clicking the 'I have read and understood the...' checkbox." Also, never operate a GPS device in a moving vehicle.
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Adobe EULA Demands 7000 Years a Day From Humankind

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  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:04AM (#42179149) Homepage Journal

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_count#In_fiction [wikipedia.org]

    OK, so about ten years ago before my kids were old enough to enter into contracts, I simply had them install my software for me, meaning that no one read and understood the EULA. How are these abominations in any way enforceable??

    • I don't see that they could be. There's no way (AFAIK) for a company to prove who clicked the "OK" button. Certainly there are arguments that could be made about the likelihood that a certain individual did so within a given scenario (for example, Jane buys a new computer and is the only person with access to said computer; the likelihood is that Jane is the one that installed additional software on it and agreed to the EULA). That said, I don't see how they are realistically enforceable in many (most?) cir

      • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @01:06PM (#42180761) Homepage

        It's a joke assertion that the average person should be able to read and understand 3500 words of dense legalese in 10 minutes too - infact I claim that *nobody* can do that, not even a crack lawyer with eulas as a speciality.

        A qualified person might, in an hour or so, feel *reasonably* sure what the EULA says. An average person could likely spend a day analysing the text, and stil miss substantial points.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:22AM (#42179401)
      A few years ago, my iphone decided to update itunes. A new EULA was presented to me that I had to agree to in order to download any more music or apps. I started to skim it to see if I could spot anything that might explain why they were updating it. Then I saw that it was page one of sixty four on the iphone screen.

      I think they've since fixed that with an "e-mail this to me" option, and I could have just not bought that Taylor Swift song right then and there (don't judge me.) Still, 64 pages? In a sane world (which the legal system is not), that massive shit of dense legalese would be clear proof that the EULA was never meant to be read or understood by the user. Just have me press a button agreeing to not sue Apple for anything. It's just as fair and makes just as much sense.
      • In a sane world (which the legal system is not), that massive shit of dense legalese would be clear proof that the EULA was never meant to be read or understood by the user.

        Hmm, how about a legal principle that correlates the value of an object with the size of the EULA. Companies would get 256 bytes to start with, then 1 byte per $10. Any part of the contract after the limit would be null and void.

        Standard things like songs, cars, and houses could just provide a link to the relevant law and leave it at that.

        I've also thought that a law that discourages companies from claiming rights they don't have would be a good idea.

        • by berashith (222128)

          I've also thought that a law that discourages companies from claiming rights they don't have would be a good idea.

          the first line in the next EULA would be exchanging the rights for the company to be able to circumvent this law in order to use the product.

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        The problem with a "reasonable" EULA is people keep coming up with new and interesting ways to cheat. A EULA that ignores known ways to cheat is then a haphazard document that courts will not look upon well. This then impacts exercising other rights that may be important.

        It is like the class action lawsuit verbage that is being used today. If in a year or so your EULA does not include that then it will be viewed as an invitation to file class-action lawsuits against the company. And a court will clearly

      • I read through the iTunes EULA and gave it a good think. Then when I returned to my computer to press "I agree" it told me my session timed out.

        I could start again, but how can I be sure that the EULA didn't change?

        I wrote Steve Jobs (when he was alive), asking how it could be legally binding if it was impossible to read and click on?

        No response.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        There is only one solution to this. We need standard Terms of Service and license agreements. Defined in law, with a core agreement and maybe a couple of optional clauses when required. Companies must use those agreements, making it very easy for the consumer to know what they are signing up for and what their rights are.

    • by neoshroom (324937) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:25AM (#42179435)
      I think you are onto something here. Clearly, we have to introduce gripping story-lines into EULAs to make them into a new art form worthy of taking the time to read:

      "Adobe products are not sold; rather, copies of Adobe products, including Macromedia branded products, are licensed all the way through the distribution channel to the end user," Samantha said, stripping off her blouse. A voice echoed back to her through the open window on the street below, "UNLESS YOU HAVE ANOTHER AGREEMENT DIRECTLY WITH ADOBE THAT CONTROLS AND ALTERS YOUR USE OR DISTRIBUTION OF THE ADOBE PRODUCTS, THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE APPLICABLE LICENSE AGREEMENTS BELOW APPLY TO YOU." She gasped and lunged for the pistol.

      ___
    • by Big Hairy Ian (1155547) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @12:04PM (#42179963)
      I just remember once reading the EULA of a computer game which told me that the game wasn't licensed for running Nuclear Installations! What Zork really????
    • OK, so about ten years ago before my kids were old enough to enter into contracts, I simply had them install my software for me, meaning that no one read and understood the EULA. How are these abominations in any way enforceable??

      Well, I've been around the block a few times in the US legal system. Here's the heuristic:

      1) Guilt, innocence, and laws don't really matter, because their interpretation is negotiable inside a courtroom

      2) Whoever has the better legal team wins

      3) In nearly all cases, the better leg

    • by Pope (17780)

      OK, so about ten years ago before my kids were old enough to enter into contracts, I simply had them install my software for me, meaning that no one read and understood the EULA. How are these abominations in any way enforceable??

      Bullshit, You never did this.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:07AM (#42179175) Homepage Journal

    If 1000 people each spend 5 minutes reading TFS, skimming the comments, and trolling a little here and there, that's 3.17 days *demanded* PER article! A dozen articles a day, and that's like a zillion DAYS A DAY!

    Hyperbole much?

    • If 1000 people each spend 5 minutes reading TFS, skimming the comments, and trolling a little here and there, that's 3.17 days *demanded* PER article! A dozen articles a day, and that's like a zillion DAYS A DAY!

      That's nothing! Have you seen any of my book [slashdot.org] reviews [slashdot.org]? Between Bennett Haselton and myself we're destroying English speaking civilization one inane wall of text at a time. Muahahahaha!

    • Hyperbole? Hey, man, he's just asking questions.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Except that slashdot is not a legal requirement for anything. EULAs purport to be.

    • There's a ToS;DR [tos-dr.info] campaign to end unreadable ToS/Eulas or provide ways of getting useful summaries of them. Check out their List of ToS [tos-dr.info].

    • by fermion (181285)
      There is difference between reading for entertainment or information, and reading a retail agreement. The former is what one does in free time, and can increase retail sales, the later is what one does to complete a sale and can decrease retail sales. Take the magazine at the check out line. You may read it, in the free time while one waits in line, and then buy it, thus reveling in the wonderful superiority of the free market. OTOH, if one spent all you time reading lables and agreeing to license agree
    • And there's no need for all this fuss, anyway. If people weren't educated stupid evil, Time Cube's 4 simultaneous days per 24 hour rotation would save them from dumb evil stupid Word EULA.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:07AM (#42179179)

    and then again how long are US bills and laws?

  • .....updates, upgrades, caused to learn a different way to do what you already knew how to do, etc......and patches because of......why?

    If we billed for the time, to those we buy from that cost us this additional time.... how long would they be in business?

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:18AM (#42179335)
    " The more I think about it, Old Billy was right ...
    -- The Eagles
  • People should start billing at Attorney rates for there time reading stuff like this.

    • by Quakeulf (2650167)
      *their

      Judging by your reading comprehension it seems a bit more reading would be in order.
  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:23AM (#42179413)

    Well, is there any point in reading a EULA or any other online agreement? Seems like every one I've even skimmed has a provision that the agreement can be unilaterally changed -- by the company, not the consumer -- at any time simply by posting a new version somewhere. It's the consumer's responsibility, according to the agreement, to periodically check back and diff the two versions to see if there's something added/deleted/changed. So you might as well click, because even if you are OK with the terms, they can change at any time. Read it or not, the agreement you virtually signed today can be something different tomorrow. The one you read is only valid for the time it takes you to read it.

    • by xtal (49134)

      Canadian law actually considers this. IANAL, but I think they use a "reasonable person" test, e.g., you are bound to what a "reasonable person" would.

      Of course, the judge gets to decide what that means, but I think it's well established nobody reads the things.

    • by BoRegardless (721219) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:51AM (#42179785)

      Microsoft convinced me they do NOT want me to read their EULA!

      I was upgrading online and decided to read the EULA. I read and read and read and finally they disconnected me from the upgrade window for lack of activity.

      Don't think I got half way through the EULA, let alone understanding what I read or its implications.

      And Microsoft no doubt wonders why I distrust them. They certainly distrust me. This dooms companies

      • My favorite is clicking "agree" to the blank Steam agreement popup when installing a game. It takes a couple of seconds to load so I always "agree" to.... agree

    • by SirGarlon (845873)

      True, but if the terms are unacceptable to you at the time you install the software, unchecking the "I agree" box is your last chance to bail. Some of these "agreements" are more odious than others.

  • Fascinating (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:25AM (#42179429) Homepage
    So, a small number multiplied by a big number results in an even bigger number. Incredible!

    that's 138 lifetimes a day!

    Er, right. Is that a lot? It could have been anything and I would have failed to be surprised, since I had no prior impressions on the subject. Telling us that a human's blood vessels would stretch to the moon and back (or whatever it really is) is interesting and surprising because we know how big a space they're usually crammed into. This is just numbers.

    • Fuzzy math is at play here. For example how long does it take to hard boil a 3 minute egg? How long does it take to hard boil a dozen 3 minute eggs in a large pan? Many IT guys for small businesses do the install. Do they read the EULA for each of the dozen machines? Nope. It's the same. Do they download the software for each? Yes if it is too small of an install batch to bother making it part of a Image install file.

      In many places the end user never sees the EULA. This trims down some of the years

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:27AM (#42179467)

    It doesn't work the way you think it does.

  • by Revotron (1115029) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:29AM (#42179499)
    Everybody could take the time to read all of the inane rambling bullshit that timothy clutters the front page with. Then we'd really be wasting time.

    In other news, if you buy a $1 candy bar every Sunday, that's $52 a year! But wait, there's more. If everybody in Detroit, MI bought a candy bar every Sunday, that would be $36,742,420 a year! And if they bought THREE candy bars, then OMG! That's $110,227,260 per year! And OH EM GEE, IF THEY PAID 7% SALES TAX THAT WOULD BE $7,715,908.20 IN TAXES A YEAR FROM CANDY BARS!

    ERMAHGERD, NERMBERS!
    • by sp332 (781207)

      But you're not legally liable to buy a Snickers bar, whereas you are legally bound to follow the terms of the EULA. It's not optional.

      • by Revotron (1115029)
        You're not legally bound to follow the terms of the EULA unless you accept it and use the software, and by extension, the license it comes with. You can reject the EULA after reading it and uninstall the software, or just not download it in the first place, and that's that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Good luck getting your money back if you bought it. That is the real crime here.
  • by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:32AM (#42179523) Homepage

    I click, because if I am ever sued over an EULA, I will demand a jury. And demand that the jury read the EULA. I will then provide them an updated EULA before the trial is over. And demand they read that as well. If I feel the jury is still, not convinced of the fact that EULAs should be non-enforceable. I will provide a third update.

    If I lose my case, then I know this world is so utterly insane....that what I do doesn't really matter. And I will ensure the publisher of the EULA is eradicated from this insane holo-simulation.

    • by Shagg (99693)

      Insanity has nothing to do with whether or not you will lose a case. The only thing that matters is if you can afford a better lawyer than the other guy.

      • by PortHaven (242123)

        Much agreed...

        Insanity, factors into, what one does after one loses a crazy case. Do you take...or do you start singing "We're not going to take it!" and suddenly find yourself wearing a V for Vendetta mask.

        Just remember, employees are normal people, often who dislike their companies' own policies but have need of a bread check. Don't take vengeance out upon innocents. ;-)

      • by shentino (1139071)

        We also learned from Dotcom that whether or not you can get the feds to bankrupt your opponent out of hiring a good lawyer also has a significant influence on who will win.

    • by PortHaven (242123)

      Likewise, another argument. I email every one who send me email, that in order to do so, they are subject to a license agreement in which their very souls become my possession, and all material possessions - and since companies are people too, they are subject as well.

      Since Adobe sent me an email after I sent them the license notification. They are now subject to my license terms. Yes, it's stupid. But it's essentially what EULAs do.

    • Indeed - I guess that if your "Jury of peers" have actually ever had to install any Adobe software, you've got a pretty good chance of being in the clear.

      • by PortHaven (242123)

        Honestly, I think Apple's iTunes is FAR worse than Adobe.

        Adobe downloads in seconds - iTunes downloads a 100 times the data. Plus always wants "new" versions of QuickTime and what not.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:34AM (#42179559) Journal
    I don't doubt that a good majority of people do simply click the check-box, and ignore the EULA...

    The article then goes to use some creative math to imply that it must be virtually impossible to accomplish by assuming it takes 10 minutes to read, multiplying that by 8 million downloads per day, and then converting that to years, saying that it works out to 1522 years

    However... this is wrong.

    It's bad math. Bad in the sense that it ignored significant figures, and bad as anyone who respects dimensional analysis can affirm.

    10 minutes to read the EULA multiplied by 80 million users per day simply equals 80 million user-minutes per day.

    The number of minutes per year can be easily calculated by multipying 60 times 24 times 365.25 = 525,960 minutes per year.

    If we divide 80,000,000 user-minutes per day by 525,960 minutes per year, the result is in man-years per day, and is roughly 152.1. This figure is a full order of magnitude less than the figure they claimed. It's obvious that they slipped up on a decimal point somewhere.

    However... 152.1 man-years is not the same thing as 152.1 years. And since that's still being split across 8 million people, it ends up still coming out to that same old 10 minutes per person. Many of them would simply have to be happening simultaneously, of course.

    Again, however, I'm not suggesting that many people actually read the EULA or even that most people read it... only pointing out that the apparent absurdity that it could not reasonably happen is actually a deduction based on a fallacy. 80 million minutes works out to This sounds like a lot... but remember, again... that's split across 8 million people, so each one of them would still only take 10 minutes to read it.

    • by fatphil (181876)
      Are you sure you've never got any figures out by a factor of 10? Now give it a 20th read to be sure.
      • by mark-t (151149)
        It's possible I made a significant figure error myself, as I accused the article of doing, but I'm pretty sure I'm correct. I'm calling them more on the notion for ignoring the fact their long period should have actually been man-years, and not simply years, however... and when you divide that across 8 million people, it's still only 10 minutes per person, which is hardly the mathematical absurdity implied by the article.

        Not that I believe that many people actually read the EULA.... I'm just pointing out

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:38AM (#42179627) Journal

    8 million a day seems a little absurd.

    There are only 7 billion people on the planet, and the vast majority of them don't dwell on the internet.

    For those who do, I'd guess that they watch a youtube video once and voila, they don't need to install flash again*.

    *Then again, it does seem like adobe patches air, pdf, and flash 600 times/day (for functionally the same bloody software that's been installed for 10 years...), so maybe the math DOES work out.

  • I dislike EULAs as much as the next guy, but what kind of sensationalist metric is this? If it takes 1 person 10 minutes to read something, it takes a billion people 10 minutes to read it (assuming they all read the same language at the same pace). They can all read it at the same time. It's not like they are all in a line waiting for the previous reader to finish.

    it would be far better to say that 1 person is presented with 20 EULAs on a daily basis. at 10 min a piece, what 1 person wants to read that
  • by spottedkangaroo (451692) * on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:40AM (#42179659) Homepage
    I wish this would go ahead and get popular, work, or be useful: http://tos-dr.info/ [tos-dr.info]
  • I'm not sure I understand the purpose of this article.
  • by gallondr00nk (868673) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @11:53AM (#42179799)

    OMG! Imagine how many years have been wasted to like, fucking Atlas Shrugged man.. If everyone who read it took like, 30 hours to read it that'd be like, a million years in wasted man hours. Whaooo...

    It reminds me of those anti piracy studies that take some figure out of their ass, multiply it by the number of downloads of Rihanna albums on a few BT trackers and then claims that's what they've lost in revenue this year.

  • by jones_supa (887896) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @12:02PM (#42179937)

    Would it be possible to make a human-readable short summary of the core idea of the particular EULA, followed by the actual text?

    For example: "By accepting these terms, you agree not to disassemble, modify or redistribute this software. It is provided to you as is, without any warranty. For details, the complete end user agreement follows."

  • I propose a word limit on EULAs. Many many many online services have limits on message size, in various scopes.

    I say we place one on EULAs and similar legal documents. Limit on total word count, and total time to read count. Since people read at diffrent speeds, I propose the following calculation.

    15 min of reading time at 50% percentile reading speed, or no more than 30 min at one standard deviation below the mean.
  • I want a signing bonus!

    • I will also propose a new licence agreement:

      We are God with regards to this product and anything you put into it or it does to or with your system or business. In exchange for this product merely existing, or having existed on your system you wave all rights past, present, and future. By agreeing to this, we own your ass and everything in it. If you sue us, that is fine, we own your bank accounts too.

  • Wrong. We do not "all blindly agree".

  • So I won't ever understand the fun with the GPS in a moving vehicle. Sorry.
  • But how long is that in parsecs?

    Seriously. If it takes me 10 minutes to read and understand it, then it take me 10 minutes to read and understand it. The fact that millions of other people are doing the same thing holds no value other than Adobe is wasting our time.

    To watch (and understand?) an episode of Seinfeld takes 22 minutes. There were 180 episodes. With a made up average of 50 million people watched those episodes. That means that I'm creating a really big number but with no actual value other than

  • I do what I want. You don't know me. oh wait, wrong show.

    I don't read EULA because I don't care what they say. I will do what I want, with the software on my computer, how I want. You want to stop me? Take me to court. Sure, I got better things to do, but court only will cost me time, it will cost you money. I'm poor, I'm disabled, so you can't garnish my wages (don't have any), you can't touch my SS (haha), and if you throw me in jail, I will become a poster boy (or older dude) for how fucked u

  • How much time would one person waste reading all the EULAs (s)he has to agree to?

  • Doesn't surprise me. Things aren't much better with commercial software, where you may or may not be allowed to install multiple copies subject to various conditions, they provide you with a certificate of authenticity on the box but will only recognise an invoice if you get audited and while you probably throw out invoices after the statute of limitations for tax law has expired, you're a bit buggered if you do this for software you want to use longer than the statute of limitations.

    But nobody told the acc

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