Monday, June 4, 2012

Make EULAs Easier to Read With EULAlyzer

Do you read End User License Agreements (EULA)? I’m pretty sure you don’t. You have probably clicked through hundreds of EULA dialogs when installing software and you haven't read a single word of any of them. Software developer and blogger Joel Spolsky once included a 40% coupon code in the EULA of one of his software, to see if anybody reads them. By the time he spilled the beans eight months later, not a single person had come forward to claim the discount. In another attempt to prove that no one reads EULAs, anti-spyware firm PC Pitstop buried a note in its own EULA, saying they would give $1,000 to the first person who emailed them at a certain address. It took four months and over 3,000 downloads before someone noticed it and sent an email and got the $1,000.

While the chances of you finding treasures in license agreements is exceedingly rare, it actually pays to read them. But EULAs are hard to read, and boring too. They are long and so full of legal jargon that no average person can fully understand them.

eulalyzer

EULAlyzer analyzing Facebook’s terms and condition

Free software EULAlyzer makes the task a tad easier by helping you spot important information in the license agreements. EULAlyzer can analyze license agreements in seconds, and provide a detailed listing of potentially interesting words and phrases that may indicate information sharing, advertising bundles or other privacy related issue buried in the license agreement.

All you have to do is copy the text of the entire license and paste it into EULAlyzer’s analysis box and click the “Analyze” button. You can also use a handy drop target to capture the text from the dialog window. The Pro version have an option that automatically captures and analyzes EULAs.

EULAlyzer presents its findings in discreet groups and flags each item with an Interest Score. Scanning a typical license agreement for a software or website, you may find items grouped under headings such as Advertising, Promotional Messages, Third Party, Website Address, Without Notice and Pop-ups. A Goto link at the end of the item will highlight the relevant passage from the agreement. You will then have to read the highlighted passage and make your own judgment.

It's important to understand the program doesn't make any legal interpretation of the agreement, nor does it determine what is wrong or right. Neither does it explain the agreement in simpler words. What it does is help you locate clauses in the agreement that has something to do with your privacy, program usability and other problematic areas much faster than you could by reading the entire document.

Related: Hundred year old EULA on Edison’s Wax Cylinder

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