Information, Technology & Consulting

What Are EULAs and Why Should I Read Them?

Details

What is a EULA?

An End User License Agreement (EULA) is a legal contract between a software application author or publisher and the user of that application. The EULA, often referred to as the "software license," is similar to a rental agreement. The user agrees to pay for the privilege of using the software, and promises the software author or publisher to comply with all restrictions stated in the EULA.

The user is asked to indicate they "accept" the terms of the EULA by opening the shrink wrap on the application package, breaking the seal on the CD case, sending a card back to the software publisher, installing the application, executing a downloadable file, or by simply using the application.

"The user can refuse to enter into the agreement by returning the software product for a refund or clicking I do not accept when prompted to accept the EULA during an install." (From http://searchsystemsmanagement.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid20_gci341294,00.html, author Brent J. Roraback)

Why should I read EULAs?

EULAs started out as simple license agreements. They included disclaimers about liability and bugs, clauses about how many copies of the software the user could have, etc.

Many EULAs today have become more restrictive. They can prevent users from disclosing benchmarks of the software (1), and could potentially give companies the power to delete files from your computer.

Your Liability

Some software EULA's might not be HIPAA compliant, and it is your responsibility to watch out for literature that might imply a failure to comply with these regulations.

HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996) has certain security requirements for patient data, and allowing a separate entity (read: Microsoft) the ability to (inadvertently) read documents on your system would be in breach of that Act.

If you are dealing with patient data (DHMC, DMS), it might not be a bad idea to see if you have to deal with HIPAA or similar regulations. Check with your legal office if you do not know what policies or regulations you need to follow.

Summary

Be careful when you click "through." You would not sign a legal document before reading it over carefully, so read the text of the EULA for each piece of software.

If you are not sure what the EULA means, feel free to contact your department's IT Service Desk.

Topic: 
Computer and Device Services
Subtopic: 
Desktops and Laptops
Last updated: 
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

If you have questions or need further information, contact your department's IT support office, or contact the IT Service Desk via email at [email protected], via phone at 603-646-2999 or walk in to see them in Baker/Berry 178J.

Close
Information, Technology & Consulting