EULAs Gone Wild

Alternative title: “Let it suck!”

I will admit that I, like 99% of all other software users, rarely pay attention to End User License Agreements (EULAs), instead just clicking ‘Agree’ without bothering to read. There are exceptions, though. In cases where I suspect spyware or ET (“phone home”) code may exist, I scan quickly, looking for buried legal slime and sleazery. Also, as a professional software developer, I do read the license agreements for the tools I (may) use for actually producing a product (mostly to find any distribution restrictions).

In this case, we are talking about the EULA for a development tool.
This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. — Charles Dickens

After downloading a free compiler from Microsoft, I found the following example of legalese that bears little resemblance to the programmers’ English which I speak:

You may not:
– work around any technical limitations in the software.

In other words, if I compile a program that reveals a shortcoming in the program (a code generation bug, for example), I am not allowed by the license to do anything to “work around” this “technical limitation in the software”, including (presumably) rearranging code, using an alternative technique, or perhaps adding an unnecessary extra parameter to get a C++ template to work properly (to use a real example from the past).

The law recognizes such a thing as an egregious contract, which is one which has terms so onerous as to be declared unenforceable (e.g., signing away the soul of your first borne child). Although this particular clause would probably fall under that definition, I would like to know if there is a similar term for legal language that is so stupid as to be laughable.

Perhaps, corporatelawyersinneedofglassnavels?

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