Saturday, July 01, 2006


I avoided bringing up the Sony/BMG rootkit fiasco back when it was big news The reasons were 1) it's a decently technical subject, and if you understand what I'm talking about, you probably also already knew what is going on, and 2) many people more technically proficient, knowledgeable, or eloquent than I have already said quite a bit about it. I do want to mention the issues inherent in the horrible EULA that accompanies these CDs, and other computer software. I dislike these one sided agreements where terms get dictated, and you have only a binary yes/no choice, usually after you've already paid for the item. Software isn't the only place these are found though, not by far. Admission tickets to almost anywhere are pretty bad, parking garage claim tickets, etc. Here is the exact text from the back of a ticket from our recent trip to the zoo.

"This ticket is issued to Holder as a revocable license which may be revoked at management's discretion for any reason including Holder's acting in a disorderly manner or otherwise violating the rules or regulations of the Zoo. The Zoo shall not be required to issue an exchange or refund for any reason including inclement weather. Holder voluntarily assumes all risk and danger of personal injury and all hazards, which are related in any way to Holder's visit. The zoo and its officers, directors, employees and agents are neither responsible nor liable for any injuries, expenses, claims, or liabilities resulting from or related to Holder's visit and Holder expressly releases each of those persons from any claims arising there from. Holder grants permission to the Zoo and its designees to utilize Holder's image, likeness, actions or statements in connection with any live or recorded video, photographic display or other transmission or reproduction without payment, inspection, or review by Holder. Holder agrees not to transmit, distribute or sell (or aid in transmitting, distributing or selling) any description, account, picture, video, audio or other form of reproduction of the visit for which this ticket is issued. Pets are not allowed inside the Zoo."

So, this license says that no matter what, they don't have to give me my money back. No matter what happens I've agreed not to hold them responsible. They can take as many photos/videos of me as they want and use them any way they want, and I don't get to see them first, or even be notified of it. Finally, I'm not allowed to even show my vacation photos, especially not on the Internet. I can't tell you what I saw, or what they have at the zoo, I can't give you my review of it, etc.

Typical all for me, none for you treatment. Do celebrities get special tickets? That can't afford (and don't allow) their likeness to be given away this freely. What if I don't agree to these terms? Am I out my money? These are the kind of things a lawyer somewhere thought up, and it gets shoved down your throat, and most people probably never even read the back of the ticket.

It's these kind of invisible, legally binding contracts we enter into so many times per day, usually without ever knowing it that bug me. America is already lawsuit crazy enough that the zoo feels the need (or the zoo's lawyers feel the need) to limit their liability, and while we are at it, let's throw some other things into the contract. Now if we get a bad review, we have legal grounds to sue. Not that we would, just in case, you know, we needed to.

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