Collective Idea

Idea: EasyEULA

The Problem: EULAs are too Confusing

Every day, we click through licenses to use software, websites, or source code without actually reading them. The legalese and length of these End User License Agreements, or EULAs, deter users from reading even though they are legally binding contracts.

We hope that the EULAs are innocuous, though some allow companies to collect your personal information, install spyware, or worse!

To prove that almost nobody reads these EULAs, one company gave $1000 to a man who read the agreement and followed the instructions to receive compensation.

The Problem Continues: EULAs are a Necessary Evil

So what do we do? Software makers want the legal protection an EULA provides, and consumers don’t want to waste time reading legalese. We clearly need something simpler. Something that works for both parties.

The Solution: EasyEULA

Enter the EasyEULA. What if a non-profit came along with a Creative Commons-style model? First you distill EULAs into a small number (10?) of similar themes. Then you create some easily-recognized symbols for these common EULA terms, all similar (or at least as coherent) as the Creative Commons symbols. One idea is for black & white, square symbols.

The next step is to make a common, short format for our Easy EULA. Again, I will use the Commons’ as an example. I envision the EasyEULA symbol, next to a list of the major terms, such as No Warranty, Collects Personal Information, and No Resale. From there, you can click into the full license, though the EasyEULA will describe enough for most users.

If a license is close to an EasyEULA but has a few additional terms you could refer to it as LicenseName+, and list the additional terms.

It would probably be best to trademark these symbols, so people don’t misuse them. The major term of using an EasyEULA license is that you legally agree to not misrepresent the full license.

What I envision is, opening up the installer for a new program, seeing the EasyEULA., quickly understanding it, having the option of viewing the full license, clicking “accept” and installing.

To-do List

I see a few major steps to get started:

Help in all of these areas is highly encouraged. If you are interested in helping, please email idea@easyeula.org.

History

The concept of an EasyEULA was originally developed by Daniel Morrison of Collective Idea. It was presented to the world in a small blog posting. From there the idea was tossed around with a variety of people and re-articulated at easyeula.org to spur public interest.