[NTLK] OT/OT License/End User License Agreements - Unfair?

Ryan newtontalk at me.com
Tue Mar 9 15:17:24 EST 2010


I thought this might be a useful discussion point, and even related to the Newton if anyone is versed on Newton software EULA (End User License Agreements).

I just downloaded and installed the Dragon Dictation App from the App Store for the iPhone. It's supposed to be one of the best apps on the App Store. What it does is allows you to speak to your iPhone and your speech will be converted to text. You can then copy and paste that text into your Mail program, Notes, Safari, etc. It gets rave reviews. But I would caution anyone to read the EULA. First, the agreement states that if you click except, that Nuance will download all of your contacts and store them on their servers. The reason they do this is to improve the accuracy of the speech recognition when you speak your contacts. They say they will not use the contacts in any way other than for speech recognition purposes: they won't contact these people.  But they don't give you a choice before you click "Accept" to the EULA.  As soon as you do that, your contacts will be downloaded to their servers, unless, perhaps, you turn off your network connectivity and go into the settings and turn this feature off before it can connect and download your contacts.  I have not tried this so I don't know if it is a way to circumvent Nuance from downloading your contacts on first launch.

Just below this clause, was another clause. It said that they collect and store all of your speech data. They then use the speech data to help improve their programs and services, and they may even share it with third parties under confidential agreements. That means that all of your speech communications is being filtered and stored by Nuance: everything. They go on to say that that information is protected, but will be released to authorities under court order and the like. Like most people, I wouldn't accept those terms, so I quit from the agreement screen and deleted the application.

Now I just see this news story below. Apple's iPhone software developer agreement has been published. From what the article states, this is the first time that the agreement has been published. The only way this was possible, was from a Freedom of Information Act request to NASA who actually themselves developed an iPhone application. So Apple had no way of stopping a regular citizen from using the Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a copy of their iPhone software developer agreement. Like most agreements, it's pretty one-sided: it favours the contracting authority. In this case, it's Apple. In the case of Nuance, their agreement is simply unrealistic and unfair since it collects very sensitive, private data without giving the user a choice. In the case of Apple's iPhone software developer agreement, their seems to be a lot of things in there that would simply be unenforceable, yet they try to write them in anyway.  Some of those things are themselves patently unfair and unrealistic, particularly the clause about Apple being able to reject an App, where that App would not be allowed to be circulated anywhere else after the rejection.  That is incredibly controlling and closed off.  Or the ban on public statements about the developer agreement.  Apple, how secretive can you possibly get?  Also, that Apple will not be held liable for more than $50 in damages should they commit themselves to an error or omission that would cause damages to the developer or end-user.  This latter clause has Steve written all over it.

I'd be interested to get some of your comments on developer licenses and EULAs, specifically Nuance's Dragon Dictation iPhone App agreement, and Apple's iPhone software development agreement.

So here is Ryan criticizing Apple... for once...


Thank you,


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