Sep 03 2008
This morning I was one step away from completely removing Chrome from my computer. Like the vast majority of people, I never do more than glance at the End User License Agreement (EULA). But luckily there are people out there who make a living reading EULA’s and interpreting what the legalese really means. And what was found in the EULA scared a lot of people on the Internet: Anything and everything you create in Chrome can be used by Google in any way they want.
That’s scary. According to this interpretation, if I write an email or create a blog post, Google has the right to “reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute” the content I created. And to make matters worse, it’s pretty much forever and anywhere.
The good news is that Google heard the collective screams of the blogosphere and have said “That’s not what we meant at all! We’re not evil, honest” And in an effort to convince us of their not-evilness, they’re going to change the EULA and make it retroactive for previous versions of Chrome. We can all breath a collective sigh of relief and go back to playing with our shiny new toy, Chrome.
EULA’s are nasty business, and to a large degree unenforceable. This is especially true in Google’s case, since they were releasing Chrome under the BSD license which has much broader licensing allowances and would supersede Google’s EULA. The other interesting thing is that you almost never hear of anyone actually trying to enforce a EULA to begin with; they’re meant to be a bunch of scary legal text that you can use to threaten an end user with. The reality is, most companies would rather drop a case then actually try to enforce a EULA, since there’s a good chance the EULA could struck down, there by creating a legal precedence. Which is why I doubt we’ll see a EULA challenge in court here in California; if the courts are going to scrap the EULA concept anywhere, it’d be here.