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Contract With The Devil

November 13, 2008

Unless it’s annoying us with its Flash popup-like presence, Warhammer’s EUALA is a non-issue with many of us. Not, of course, to Mark Jacobs, who loves it like his firstborn legal contract, but for pretty much every gamer who’s ever dealt with a game that required you to click “Accept” to an End User License Agreement, we don’t have the time or gumption to actually read these things or care about them. It doesn’t make it easy that the chunks of the thing are IN ALL CAPS SO THAT IT SEEMS LIKE IT’S SCREAMING AT YOU, nor is it accessible to anyone who speaks normal English and not legalese.

Correction. Trolls care about them, especially when passages are pulled to prove a point somehow and verbally beat down the other forumites.

It’s been tickling my mind lately — what are we agreeing to every time we log in? In the spirit of adventure and too much time on my hands tonight, I dug in. The in-game EUALA says there’s a version on Warhammer’s Support site, but if there is, I haven’t been able to find it yet.

Among other things, when you agree to WAR’s EUALA, you agree to:

  • “Thoroughly review” the EUALA each and every time you log in.
  • Be responsible for your child, if you’ve signed the account over to them.
  • Not establish an account if you are an “artificial person” (1B)
  • Not have over five separate accounts of WAR (1C)
  • Not hold Mythic responsible for emotional distress if you can’t remember your password (1D)
  • Be limited to only one account transfer between you and another person, with limitations (1E)
  • Hand over all rights of ownership of your character, anything you upload to the game, and anything you do or say in the game (2A)
  • Treat the time in game as entertainment only — that you’re not accumulating any monetary value with your time spent (2A)
  • Give Mythic the rights of ownership of your guild (2B)
  • Let Mythic publicly post any information about your character (2C)
  • Let the patcher access your hardware system profile data (2F)
  • Let the game monitor your RAM while the game is running to see if you’re running any bad third-party programs (2E)
  • Pay a non-refundable monthly fee and be subject to Mythic shutting down your game and account at any point that they think you’ve breached the EUALA.
  • Only install the game on one computer with one backup (3)
  • No privacy in-game — even /tells are subject to monitoring (7)
  • Play with potentially “rude” people (7)
  • Hold Mythic to $100 maximum liability if you take another player to court (7)
  • Let Mythic fork over your personal identification (name, address, e-mail, credit card info) to “private entities, law enforcement or government officials” based on Mythic’s sole discretion if they think a crime was committed (9)
  • If you want to challenge Mythic legally, you have to go to Fairfax County, VA and use the American Arbitration Association.

Really, it’s nothing too extreme or unreasonable for a EULA. Just… interesting.

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9 comments

  1. EULAS are such legally dubious garbage.

    I agree to review it each time huh? Can I get my $50 back if I suddenly decide I don’t like the contract? Refund for that months fee?

    My left nut.


  2. Nope, you can’t. And that’s in there two. Third paragraph I think states that if you click “Disagree” you’re not entitled to any sort of refund.

    Yes, I read the bleeding thing -.- It’s about the same as any other game.


  3. personally I think EULAS is just like the contracts that you have with the credit cards company, equally confusing and evil. plus no one really reads them.


  4. I live in Fairfax! If it ever comes to it, challenging Mythic will be convenient. 🙂


  5. “EULAS are such legally dubious garbage.”

    No, they’re not. Software EULAs have been upheld by the courts pretty much every time they’ve been challenged. You may not like them, but legally, they’re fine.


  6. Some supporting evidence for my comment, above:

    Davidson & Associates, Inc. v. Internet Gateway, 334 F. Supp. 2d 1164, 1176 (E.D. Mo. 2004) (software end-user license agreement was enforceable); DeJohn v. The.TV Corp. Int’l, 245 F. Supp. 2d 913, 918 (N.D. Ill 2003) (click-wrap agreement upheld); Hughes v. McMenamon, 204 F. Supp. 2d 178, 181 (D. Mass. 2002) (click-wrap agreement containing forum selection clause valid); I. Lan Systems, Inc. v. Netscout Service Level Corp., 183 F. Supp. 2d 328, 337 (D. Mass. 2002) (licensing agreement enforceable contract); Forrest v. Verizon Communications, Inc., 805 A.2d 1007, 1009 (D.C. App. 2002) (notice of forum selection clause in click-wrap agreement sufficient); Bischoff v. DirectTV, Inc., 180 F. Supp. 2d 1097, 1104 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (arbitration clause in customer service agreement which did not involve the sale of goods was valid and enforceable); 1-A Equipment Co. v. Icode, Inc., 2003 Mass. App. Div. 30, 31, 2003 WL 549913, 1-2 (Mass. App. Div. 2003) (end-user software agreement valid); Moore v. Microsoft Corp., 293 A.D.2d 587, 741 N.Y.S.2d 91, 92 (2002) (end-user license agreement contained in software program valid); Barmett v. Network Solutions, Inc., 38 S.W. 3d 200, 203 (Tex. App. 2001) (forum selection clause in click-wrap agreement upheld); M.A. Mortenson Co., Inc. v. Timberline Software Corp., 140 Wash. 2d 568, 998 P.2d 305, 312 (2000) (terms of shrink-wrap license were part of “layered contract”); In Re RealNetworks, Inc., 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6584 , *18, 2000 WL 631341, 3 (N.D. Ill. 2000) (licensing agreement which required arbitration upheld); Caspi v. Microsoft Network, L.L.C., 323 N.J. Super. 118, 732 A.2d 528, 531 (1999) (online subscription valid).

    There are probably more; I didn’t look very hard.


  7. I remember someone once telling me a “waiver” I signed at a paintball field was someting similar to legally dubious garbage, mostly because you can’t have someone sign something that allows you as a company to be negligent.

    Guessing it’s harder with an EULA since most of the stuff in there is pretty standard and hard to argue… but if there was something in their EULA they claimed the would not be held accountable for due to negligence, I think you’d have half a chance to fight it.

    The only thing that really comes to mind is if the EULA says Mythic will not be held accountable for any damage their software does to your computer, but knowingly (or made no effort to prevent) had the game shipped with viruses / malware as well.

    But then again, I’m no lawyer… I’m only a Canadian. Eh.


  8. As long as if they ever change the details you are notified in large letters of the changes I see no problem, hpwever would a court really deem it reasonable to expect a person to read all those pages of identical text every day for weeks / months and then uphold anything that you may do against Mythic because a sentence was slipped in or paragraph changed ?

    Its all pretty standard, but contracts are always slippery things and not always as binding as people seem to think.


  9. Standard disclaimer – the following is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

    “hpwever would a court really deem it reasonable to expect a person to read all those pages of identical text every day for weeks / months and then uphold anything that you may do against Mythic because a sentence was slipped in or paragraph changed ?”

    Maybe. On one hand, generally speaking, if one party wants to modify a contract, the other party has to assent to the modification for the modification to have any effect.

    On the other hand, every time you click “I agree” on the EULA, you are assenting to the terms of the EULA. Barring extraordinary circumstances, Courts will deem you to have read the contracts you “sign.” So I don’t think I’d want to walk into court and try to convince a judge that the EULA wasn’t binding on me because it was long and boring and I couldn’t be bothered to read it every time I logged in.

    “contracts are always slippery things and not always as binding as people seem to think.”

    Um. No. Sorry, no. It’s true that contracts aren’t always binding, but in the vast majority of cases, they are. Especially in an area of the law that is well-understood — like, for example, software licensing. I guarantee you that EA/Mythic’s lawyers are good ones, that they worked hard to craft the EULA, and that the terms of the EULA comply with the laws of Virginia (remember that forum selection clause in the EULA?).

    More generally, it is always, always, ALWAYS (can I be more definitive? !!!ALWAYS!!!) a bad idea to sign a contract under the assumption that, “well, contracts aren’t always binding, so maybe I can get out of it.” That’s a really good way to wind up owing somebody money for breach of contract. If you don’t like the terms of a contract, either try to negotiate, or don’t sign. Don’t assume you can get out of it later.



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