Every commercial piece of software we use comes with an End User License Agreement (EULA), which we all merrily accept without reading. After all, who has time to read a rambling document of barely decipherable legalese that we can’t do anything about anyway? Sometime I do glance through them, and my blood pressure shoots up (the part I like best is where it says “Some states do not allow the exclusion of [bla bla], so the above exclusion may not apply to you”, which essentially says “we will abuse you all the way, but if your state prohibits this we will abuse you a little less”). 🙁
So, I sometimes remember fondly the old (1980’s) Borland No-Nonsense License, which said:
You must treat this software just like a book …
…By saying “just like a book,” Borland means, for example, that this software may be used by any number of people, and may be freely moved from one computer location to another, so long as there is no possibility of it being used at one location while it’s being used at another or on a computer network by more than one user at one location. Just like a book can’t be read by two different people in two different places at the same time, neither can the software be used by two different people in two different places at the same time. [you can find the full text here].
Sensible, isn’t it? And fair, too. An agreement decent people might freely enter, and have respect for (check the sentiment expressed here). Our world needs more of this sort of thing!
Incidentally, the distinction between the Borland style and the one prevalent today – what I call People language vs. Lawyer language – is what inspired my own legal blurb on Possibly Interesting.