Do you pay attention to the fine print when you install a game or other software on your PC?
But in many cases, End User License Agreements (EULAs) stack the deck against consumers.
In his Law of the Game on Joystiq column, attorney Mark Methenitis speculates that the Federal Trade Commission may decide to weigh in on the EULA debate in order to protect the interests of game buyers.
In Methenitis’s view, the FTC has three possible courses of action:
- requiring that EULAs be written in plain language, not indecipherable legalese
- mandating that EULAs be dropped entirely in favor a consumer information checklist devised by the FTC
- a hybrid of these two
Mark sees potential revenue opportunities for the FTC in EULA regulation as well (hit the jump for the update).
UPDATE: Mark amplifies his comments concerning potential revenue generation for the FTC:
I’m speculating based on how other agencies operate. First, there will almost certainly be some sort of review fee if [EULAs] are actively reviewed, but this is minimal. The real means government regulations generate income is through fines and penalties…
It’s more likely they’ll impose some serious fines for non-compliance with these new rules, and I would expect enforcement will be a high priority. The government can pull in $10 million plus on a medium sized case, based on fines/penalties for trade/FCPA violations. Siemens just paid $800 million in fines for a series of FCPA violations, one of the biggest cases on record. It’s all part of a trend to ramp up enforcement across the board. With an appropriate fine mechanism, you can expect the government will find a way to make money especially given the current budgetary constraints. But, again, this is all speculation, and there may be a better barometer for this after the town hall meeting on DRM in March.