I was looking at the new Windows Live Messenger application that Microsoft released to replace the MSN Messenger. One of the things that I found really odd is that on of the terms on the EULA (End User License Agreement) states:
2. HOW WE MAY MODIFY THIS CONTRACT.
We may change this contract at any time. You must review this contract on a regular basis. You can find the most recent version of the contract at ‘http://messenger.msn.com/Help/Terms.aspx‘. The changed contract is in effect right away. If you do not agree to changes in the contract, then you must stop using the Service. If you do not stop using the Service, then your use of the Service will continue under the changed contract.
So, once you accept the first version of the EULA, they are free to change it anytime and it is our job to check for any changes? Not only that, if we fail to check the contract the day it was changed, we automatically agree to the new terms? Is this even legal?
It is incredible how more and more corporations are trying to control everything you do on a computer, and care more about profits and revenues than actually providing a useful service to its consumers. And the worse part is that I read this term just after reading the Wall Street Journal article " Zen and the Art of Classified Advertising".
It makes me wonder about the ongoing battle that has been going on between big corporations (Microsoft, music labels, movie studios) and open source advocates for the control of a consumer PC.
Big corporations want to control everything you do on your computer (examples of this: DRM, CSS, phone-home windows update, etc) so that you really don’t have control over what you legally own. By trying to modify the law, they are setting the stages so that if they find a new way to increase revenue, they can just change their licensing terms, or access your computer and change how software works. Imagine a cable bill that comes with an extra hundred dollars, and when you ask the cable company why the extra charge, they tell you "Oh, we changed the terms so now every time you change channels, an extra dollar is added to your account. If you didn’t agree with these terms, you should’ve terminated your contract the day we changed the terms. It was your responsibility to keep track of these changes, you know. It’s the law".
Open Source Software, even better than being free (or at reasonable costs), what really gives you is Freedom. Freedom to be the true owner of your computer and your (legally acquired) media. Freedom to do your daily tasks, listen to your music, watch your movies, interact with other people, etc. without a third party interest on what you are doing. By encouraging open standards that trascend companies or organizations, OSS really cares about its consumers, not making a profit everytime the format is changed. OSS gives you Freedom to have privacy and security over your information and your (perfectly normal) habits.