Would you ever sign anything if you hadn’t read the small print? Would you ever click a button to indicate your agreement with something if you hadn’t read the small print? What about if there were reams and reams of small print? What if you started reading it, but after a couple of paragraphs, you couldn’t make head nor tail of it – would you still go on to sign in blood?
Pretty much every time you install a new piece of software, there will invariably be a huge agreement in unintelligible legalese. In order to go ahead and reap the benefits of whichever piece of software you are installing, you will be faced with a choice. Here’s a ton of legal gobbledegook, click here to go ahead and agree or hard cheese, you can’t have your software.
I’m no lawyer, but if you actually take the time to read some of this small print, it will typically indemnify the software publisher against pretty much anything. They won’t guarantee that the software is fit for purpose – which seems bizarre to me. They’re not so candid in their marketing. Come and buy our latest office software – it can do anything you want* (small print: we’re not guaranteeing it will do anything at all).
Typically, the small print will indemnify the publisher against any kind of defect. Having worked in software all my life, I do understand why this is in place. I doubt that there is any software in existence today that doesn’t have a bug in it somewhere, but to abandon all responsibility for the quality of your product seems outrageous.
There will also be something in there that limits the company’s liability. If there is a remedy, which is by no means guaranteed, it will usually be restricted to the purchase price of the software. Forget any consequential losses – worth bearing in mind next time you use a piece of software to produce your invoices or calculate your tax return.
Would any other vendor get away with it? You don’t get all that small print when you buy a car. How would you feel if at purchase time you get presented with a big contract with statements like; this car may not do everything you expect. We don’t offer any warranty and if, because the brakes fail, you run into something or someone expensive, the best you can expect is a refund.
How do they get away with it?
- Selective Reading (kkodraws.wordpress.com)
- What Have I Done?! (laboccadelaverita.wordpress.com)
- Watch for the fine print in advertising (triblive.com)
- The Swiss Army’s Solution to Tiny Type (bibledesignblog.com)
- The Fine Print (consultkeith.com)