Do you owe a software company your soul?

contract-sign-clipartSo hands up if you read over those End User License Agreements also known as EULA’s? I’m going to take a guess that most of you did not put your hand up. Well you may have really just signed your soul over to a company.

In 2010, a British games retailer GameStation included a clause which allowed GameStation to claim the persons soul. They did it as both a joke, and to prove that people don’t actually read the fine print. (see http://www.geek.com/games/gamestation-eula-collects-7500-souls-from-unsuspecting-customers-1194091/)

Of course there have been several cases where large software companies’ haven’t properly read their EULA’s either, for instance Apple Safari for Windows had a specific term stating that you were not allowed to install it on a Windows computer.

But even once you remove jokes and mistakes from EULA’s, the way you are intending on using the software could also be affected by a EULA.

Software labeled as “free” or “home” will often contain the clause “for private, non-commercial use only” or words to that effect.

Take for instance a piece of DVD tracking software. If the EULA has a non-commercial clause in it, you would be allowed to use the software to keep track of your own private DVD collection. But using that same software to run a movie rental company would not be allowed.

Whilst software companies may turn a blind eye to misuse of their software by individuals, when it comes to organizations using their software for profit, they are less likely to be forgiving.

This week, just do a quick check of the software you are running, just make sure that if you are running “home” or “free” versions of software that you are not also bound by a “for non-commercial use only” clause. If you are using software outside the EULA, consider looking at options for either purchasing a commercial license from the software company, or replacing the software with other software which does not have the non-commercial use only restriction.

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