March 6, 2004

Sneakwrap

Ed Foster in his GripeLog relates the story of Man’s Best Friend Software, whose fine print on their website reads, in part, “By using the Site, you agree, for a period of one year from the date and time you last use the Site, not to publish any private or public derogatory comment about MBFS…you agree to pay MBFS the sum of US$10,000 per publication…” So if you say anything bad about the website, even in private, you owe them $10,000. This has got to be one of the worst things I have ever seen in any of these user agreements. Oh, drat! I just published a derogatory comment! I guess I better get my checkbook out.

Oh, but wait! I’m off the hook, because the uproar amongst Ed’s readers was so great that the owner of the company had that passage removed from the agreement. He was even nice enough to say, in Ed’s comment section, “We will not enforce this anymore.”

Anymore? Anymore? Does that mean there are people out there that have actually been pursued by this company, to the tune of 10 grand, for saying nasty things? Have they actually collected any cash? Is this actually the same Earth I live on?

By the way, the user agreement also says you can’t write a review of any of their software without prior consent, you can only link to them if the link doesn’t portray the company in an offensive manner, and that it is prohibited to use “any robot [or] spider…to monitor or copy portions of the Site” Ooops. I guess somebody forgot to tell the Google cache and the Internet Archive. Now they need to start writing checks too.

These people do realize how laughable agreements like this are, and that just because they’ve sat down and written them doesn’t make them in any way enforcable, right?

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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