WhenU License Agreement Is Forty Five Pages Long
Benjamin Edelman - Spyware Research, Legislation, and Suits

[ Background - Screen Shots - Disclosures ]

The format and presentation of WhenU's license agreement, as embodied in certain third-party software such as BearShare, make the license especially difficult to review and understand.


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Among the various characteristics of spyware are license agreements and disclosures that are absent, confusing, unintelligible, or otherwise such that users do not provide meaningful consent to software being installed on their PCs. (See details about spyware, including research, litigation, and legislation, on my separate "Spyware": Research, Testing, Legislation, and Suits.)

A representative, if outlying, example of the spyware installation process is the license agreement shown by WhenU when users install its software as a part of a bundle with BearShare. This license requires forty five on-screen pages to be read in full, both because it is lengthy and because it is shown only in an unusually small window. Indeed, the on-screen window shows as few as three words per line and only eight lines per page.

For purposes of critique and analysis, the install process is shown below in full -- with a separate screen shot showing each on-screen display a user would have to review if the user wanted to read the entirety of the WhenU license agreement. Note also that the WhenU installer offers no direct function to view the WhenU license in a larger window, or to print the license for later viewing.

The difficulty of reviewing the WhenU license in this format may explain why, in a recent survey by PC Pitstop, 87% of WhenU users were unaware that WhenU software was installed. See survey details.


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Screen Shots

The screenshots below were made from the free BearShare installer available from the BearShare home page, using the latest version available as of April 17, 2004 (version 4.4.3).

Screen Shots of the BearShare Introduction and License Agreement (two screen shots)

Screen Shot of the WhenU Introduction (one screen shot)

Screen Shots of the WhenU License Agreement (forty five screen shots)

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My interest in spyware originally arose in part from a prior consulting engagement in which I served as an expert to parties adverse to Gator in litigation. See Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Company, LLC, et al. v. the Gator Corporation. More recently, I have served as an expert or consultant to other parties adverse to spyware companies in litigation or contemplated litigation.

This page is my own work - created on my own, without approval by any client, without payment from any client.

Last Updated: June 4, 2004 - Sign up for notification of major updates and related work.