New Microsoft EULA fine print nixes class action

Microsoft is rolling out a change to its end-user license agreements for its consumer products that eliminates U.S. users' ability to engage in class-action lawsuits involving its products.

The tech titan announced the coming modification in a blog post on Friday, May 25, the day before the Memorial Day long weekend in the U.S.

"When a customer in the United States has a dispute about a Microsoft product or service, many of our new user agreements will require that, if we can't informally resolve the dispute, the customer bring the claim in small claims court or … Read more

OS X EULA changes allow installation on all of your Macs

Apple historically has sold OS X through its Apple Store and third-party vendors on physical media and included a classical End User License Agreement that limited users to one installation of the software on one Apple-branded machine. Given that people own multiple Macs, Apple introduced family pack licenses with installations for up to five systems. This offered individuals with multiple Macs a discount for upgrading.

The availability of these past options have confused people about the licensing for Apple's latest OS X Lion, since it's available as an download from the Mac App Store instead of being distributed … Read more

Apple tweaks fine print behind iBooks Author software

Following controversy, Apple has made changes to the end user license agreement that binds its iBooks Author software.

The legal agreement sparked ire following the software's introduction last month for its stipulation that books that were created with the free software would have to be made available only through Apple's iBookstore if authors intended to charge for them.

In the new version of the software that went out to users this afternoon, the company has modified the original language to state that the only works subject to that rule are files in the .ibooks format, files that only … Read more

Questioning Sony's new class-action waiver

The Sony Network Entertainment has added a controversial change to its Terms of Service and User Agreement (PDF) for users of the PlayStation Network and the Sony Entertainment Network (Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited). In the revised terms, consumers must waive the right to participate in any class-action lawsuit filed after August 20 against the gaming and content delivery portion of Sony.

If you don't agree, then your PS3 can't get online or purchase media content from Sony. Future disputes between consumers and SNE must occur individually in court or through an arbitration procedure.

Licensing agreements with restrictions like this are actually more common than you might think. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of class-action waivers last April in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion. In that case, the court held that federal law pre-empted state rules against class-action waivers. Sony will have difficulty enforcing this policy outside of the U.S., as some other countries make agreements like this impossible.… Read more

The 404 836: Where it's big, round, and shaped like a spaceship (podcast)

We enjoyed yesterday's show with Joey Kaminski so much that we invited him back to sub for Jeff again today. He weighs in with us on Apple's new spaceship-shaped campus, Chinese prisoners allegedly mining MMO gold, Steve Jobs' freakiest Apple patents, and muffing the ball.

The 404 Digest for Episode 836

Steve Jobs proposes a new Apple campus--shaped like a spaceship. Steve Jobs' freakiest patents. China reportedly forces prisoners to mine MMO gold. Richard Dreyfuss reads the iTunes EULA on tomorrow's Reporters' Roundtable!

Episode 836 Subscribe in iTunes (audio) | Subscribe in iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

Richard Dreyfuss reads the iTunes EULA

Update 4:17 p.m. PT: Want to remix these audio files? We've made downloads available. Go to the end of the post.

This Friday's Reporters' Roundtable is on a topic that vexes us all: why are end user license agreements and terms of service so long and convoluted? To get ourselves in the mood for this show, we asked CNET fan (and Academy Award winner) Richard Dreyfuss if he'd help us out by doing a dramatic reading of the Apple EULA. He said yes. So, without further ado, we present to you,

Dramatic readings from the iTunes EULA by Richard Dreyfuss

Please read: Your responsibility: Damages:

This one's our favorite:

Effective until:

Don't miss Reporters' Roundtable live on Friday at noon Pacific at CNET Live. Or catch the recording afterward on the Reporters' Roundtable blog. Our guest for this great discussion will be Gabriel Ramsey, a writer of EULAs and a partner at the San Francisco and Silicon Valley law firm Orrick. Click the Remind Me button here to set up a NudgeMail reminder for this podcast (button will launch your default e-mail app).

If you have questions on this topic, send them to or drop a note in the comments below.

In addition to his acting career, Richard Dreyfuss is head of The Dreyfuss Initiative, a nonprofit, nonpartisan effort to reform civics education in America. The views expressed in these recordings or the Reporters' Roundtable podcasts do not necessarily reflect his opinions. … Read more

The end of software ownership--and why to smile

Editors' note: This is a guest column. See Larry Downes' bio below.

Consumer advocates are up in arms over a recent ruling by a federal court of appeals in Seattle. The decision, Vernor v. Autodesk (PDF), held that the terms of an end-user licensing agreement, or EULA, can change the sale of commercial software into a mere license, in this case a license that prohibits users from reselling their copy of the software.

The case involved an eBay seller named Timothy Vernor. Vernor bought several outdated copies of Autodesk's AutoCAD program from a business that had originally purchased the … Read more

Why it's time to ditch Digsby

Updated Friday at 3:17 p.m. PDT with comments from Digsby.

When it comes to program installation, I'm a strong believer in caveat emptor. If a software publisher warns you during the installation process that it will install the Yahoo search bar or a Firefox extension along with its program, and makes it clear that you can opt out of it, then so be it. Nobody's forcing a gun to your head, and it's important to read each of the installation screens no matter which program you're installing--at the very least to make sure that … Read more

Analyze this

Combing through end-user license agreements (EULAs) can be a tedious process, but skipping them altogether could end in tears, especially if your download habits careen towards the risky end of the spectrum. Enter EULAlyzer, which quickly scans any EULA you toss at it and flags words, statements, and phrases worth your attention.

The program's bulky, old-school interface features plenty of explanatory text, though we'd still like to see an in-depth help file included. The Analyze menu item is where you'll do most of your work, either by pasting a EULA into the blank box or dragging the … Read more

Buzz Out Loud 913: Purple-footed and pregnant

A new medical wiki will tell you why you shouldn't have painted your sister's toes purple, but apparently all online medical advice pages tell Natali she's pregnant. She's not. Facebook also backed down on its terms of service and Telstra is in trouble with Microsoft.

Listen now: Download today's podcast EPISODE 913

Facebook backs down

Grand Theft Auto IV adds episodic content

Telstra boss Sol Trujillo’s mobile phone loaded with top-secret software stolen by pickpocket,28348,25076154-5014239,00.htmlRead more