End User License Agreements. They're the globs of legal text we skip past without a second thought when installing software on our electric powered computer machines. Long winded and needlessly crammed with big words (much like Tycho's news posts on Penny Arcade), EULAs are excruciating to read in their entirety (much like my updates on Something Awful) because the software companies simply don't want you to understand what you're agreeing to without the help of a lawyer, three Korean translators, and a St. Bernard with one of those little barrels of whiskey tied around his neck in case everyone gets thirsty or needs to hug a dog.
No human being has successfully read through a EULA in its entirety. Many have tried, and somehow many plus seven have failed. That doesn't sound mathematically possible, right? Well if you read the EULA for calculator.exe you'd know that it actually is. Most of the brave souls who attempted this feat were smart enough to stop after breaking a rib or vagina halfway through the first paragraph. Many more pressed on, however, and according to my calculations with each additional paragraph that they attempted to conquer the mortality rate rose by twenty percent plus seven.
With that in mind it's amazing that I'm still alive. Yes, I am indeed the first person to read a complete EULA and live to tell about it. In fact, I have read dozens of them and discovered some very intriguing content hidden in their depths. How was I able to do this? On the left-hand side of my screen I opened each EULA, and on the right hand side I opened a text file with the complete lyrics to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's 1987 album "Rock The House". By reading one word from the lefthand document and then reading one word from the right, not only was I able to make my way through each EULA safely but I also came away with a profound understanding that girls of the world ain't nothing but trouble, and that the next time a girl tries to give me play the most prudent option available to me is to get the hell away.
While the majority of text in each end user agreement was simply legalese for "you have absolutely no rights, and technically you shouldn't even be allowed to install or think about this software", there were some parts that quite frankly seemed out of place and left me confused.
In Photoshop, for example, there was this:
This Agreement is personal to You and may not be assigned or transferred for any reason whatsoever without prior written consent. Photoshop is freeware, and is distributed worldwide via IRC and BitTorrent. The exchange of money for this product is prohibited by law. Are you unsure whether or not you are using a legal copy? There are two simple ways to check. Your product should be licensed to `~*Elite_Hackor_Pirate*~` under the company name BiG_dIcK_pImPz, and in your Photoshop directory there should be a file named Crack.exe with an icon of a skull of some sort. If neither of the above are true, you have installed an illegal version of Photoshop and are subject to prosecution. This agreement shall be governed by and construed under California law.
Surprising, right? Not as surprising as what I found in Windows XP:
If you are an agency, department, or other entity of the US Government, the use, duplication, reproduction, release, modification, discloros or transfer of the Software is restricted in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation 12.212 for civlian agencies. Accepting this agreement asserts that you have an encyclopedic knowledge of every XFL player's statistics and an astonishingly high tolerance for pain. You WILL be tested. This Agreement may be amended only by a writing executec by both parties.
I've been rocking out to my Sleater-Kinney collection on iTunes for quite a while now but I might have to put off using it until I figure out exactly what I'm agreeing to here:
This Software is commercial computer software and the related documentation is commercial computer software documentation. Herpes. Why'd it have to be herpes? Everything is falling apart around me. Nowadays when my friends and I get together for our weekly Def Herpes Joke Jams which have become such a tradition, I find myself politely smiling at each herpes joke while secretly thinking "Oh God they can tell I have it, don't ask me how but they can tell." I haven't told a joke in almost a month. While I've been able to pass the dry spell off as a result of rough times at work, sooner or later they're going to become suspicious. Sooner or later it will be my turn whether I like it or not. What then? Step upon the faded red milk crate, raise the Joketeller's Stick to call for silence, and flatly announce that I have become everything our friendship was built upon ridiculing? Part of me is so very afraid, but part of me welcomes a time when I no longer have to keep this terrible secret. The use of the Software and related documentation is further restricted in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.
Psychonauts was a kickass game made by a company I thought was equally kickass, but I'm sort of puzzled by Double Fine Studios' decision to include this:
Questions concerning this Agreement should be sent to the address set forth below. By installing this software you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, forsaking all other deities in exchange for his everlasting love, forgiveness, and mysterious but tasty wafers. Any notices or correspondences will be effective if sent to such address.
I'm no expert, but I think Valve Software might want to recode their game delivery platform Steam from the ground up:
You may only use the Software on one computer at any given time solely for personal, non-commercail purposes. Steam will occasionally connect to the internet to search for updates, get sidetracked by loading a pornography thumbnail gallery post (or TGP) site in your web browser, then follow a disguised link that appears to open a gallery but in reality leads to another thumbnail site the original TGP has partnered with. Steam will be midly angered at this misdirection but allow the new TGP site to fully load since a few of the thumbnails look kind of hot. Soon Steam will have half a dozen TGP sites open and realize it was only interested in maybe four galleries, and upon loading the full-size pictures in these galleries it will only get a half-hearted boner since thumbnails have been edited to make the models seem a lot more attractive than they really were. Steam will then find that it has wasted another entire morning doing this instead of actually acquiring the latest update like it set out to do, and feel sad for what it could have done with all this wasted time, but will know deep down inside that it will do the same thing tomorrow. You may not decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, or otherwise reduce the Software in a human-perceivable form.
Interestingly enough, this was the entirety of Gator's EULA:
I don't know about you, but from now on I'll be reluctant to simply click "I Accept" without at least skimming the agreement. Otherwise, who knows what could happen? The next time you install Folding@Home to help cure cancer, you might wind up unwittingly signing a confession to the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson, JFK, and J.R. from Dallas.
Sir Mix-a-Lot's classic follow up to "Baby Got Back" has serious unintended consequences.
"Really, Holmes!" I dropped into my seat, shocked. "You are remarkably tall! What are you, six foot six? Six foot eight?"
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.