Welcome to ReasonableAgreement.org — where we make mincemeat of End User License Agreements. As you move through space, as you look at the Web, when you buy things, when you travel, it’s increasingly the case that you end up making “agreements” to give up your rights. For example, by installing software, you might give up the right to sue the company that made it if it didn’t work. Or by subscribing to an online music service, you might give up your right to loan the songs you buy to a friend. When you install a game like World of Warcraft, you agree to install spyware on your computer. When you sign your credit-card slip at Best Buy or Fry’s, you waive all kinds of rights you get under consumer protection law.
Who knows if this stuff is enforceable? The case law is all over the place. What if you’re under-age? Drunk? Using someone else’s computer — do you agree on your parents’ behalf when you install software at their place over the holidays?
Frankly, it’s all bullshit. The way the system should work is, you buy something, you own it. The law of the land governs your interactions with the seller. What’s the point of having a consumer-protection law if all it takes to get around it is to announce that you’ve agreed to waive your rights by buying something? If consumer protection laws don’t protect people who buy stuff, whom do they protect?
That’s not to say that we can’t have reasonable agreements — like when you and your boss sit down and draw up your employment contract, negotiating the terms on which you’ll work. But the idea that an agreement can be made by shouting, “By standing there doing nothing, you agree to let me stab you in the eye!” is just dumb.
Enter the anti-EULA. Here’s the text of it:
READ CAREFULLY. By [accepting this material|accepting this payment|accepting this business-card|viewing this t-shirt|reading this sticker] you agree, on behalf of your employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all NON-NEGOTIATED agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete and acceptable use policies (“BOGUS AGREEMENTS”) that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any BOGUS AGREEMENTS on behalf of your employer.
Put this at the bottom of your emails; print it on your stationery. Stick it on the bottom of the credit-card slips at Best Buy, put it on your warranty cards before you mail them off. Print them on the back of your business-cards.
It’s no more enforceable than any of the other dumb-ass, abusive agreements out there, but this one works for you. It’s time to stop “agreeing.” It’s time to come up with some real, reasonable agreements.
[EDIT 10/2011: Stickers and T's no longer available]
The good people at Bumperactive have printed up stickers — receipt-sized, laptop-sized and bumper-sized — and MondoTees have t-shirts (“BY READING THIS T-SHIRT, YOU AGREE…”). I don’t make any money off of this, and part of every sale goes to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a charity that sticks up for your rights.
There’s no copyright in any of this. Make your own shirts, sell ‘em or give them away. Stickers, stationery, window-signs, door-knockers, welcome-mats — whatever. Do it, make as much dough as you can, just spread it around.
(Thanks to Steve Simitzis and Cory Doctorow for this great idea)!