ECA Action Alert: How EULAs Affect You Under State Law

The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) has issued an action alert asking ECA members and the general gaming public to contact their local representatives to find out if the terms of many End User License Agreements (EULA) are actually legal in their respective states. Find the Action Alert below:

"Recently, video game publishers have begun updating their End User License Agreements (EULAs) for operating their games and game systems with mandatory arbitration clauses. The EULA is that notice that requires you to click "I agree" before you can use the game, or continue using it.

They have also increasingly been adding restrictive digital rights management (DRM) software and technologies that may prevent you from renting or selling your games. In addition, they don't disclose that the EULA and DRM are present – so you'd have to buy the game and open the box before you'd know, and then you can't return the game to the store, as a result.

These changes are changing the deal. You may think that you're buying and owning a game, when, in fact, you're buying a license to just use it – and only in the ways that the publisher says.

Is all of this legal? Does anyone review these EULAs from the consumer's perspective? The answer is that it depends on your individual state's laws and regulations. We're asking you to write your state officials to find out how these changes affect you."

The ECA is offering a form letter that you can send to your state representative asking them the right questions. That sample letter can be found below:

End User License Agreements (EULAs)

Your Letter:

Recently, video game publishers have begun updating their End User License Agreements (EULAs) for operating their games, game consoles and systems with new mandatory arbitration clauses. Are there sources of information on what clauses are allowed in EULAs and what clauses are invalidated by our state's law?

Additionally, publishers have also been making use of EULAs to fundamentally alter the transaction without advising consumers prior to the sale. Including over-reaching Digital Rights Management software and systems, without disclosing the presence of them. Consumers only become aware after the purchase and after the packaging is opened – which makes returning the product impossible.

I appreciate that publishers are trying to protect themselves, but it seems wrong that an expensive electronics game or device can be rendered useless if you don't agree completely with the EULA after the fact, and which is completely one-sided. Where are the consumer protections in these things? Who reviews them? Can you please help me?

Thanks in advance for your assistance in this matter.



Find out more here.

[Full Disclosure: GamePolitics is an ECA publication.]

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  1. 0
    GrimCW says:

    i was talking digital formats in general, music, movies, and games.

    the EULA's vary, but in my experience its always a similar path of "you don't own this product in any part, this is merely a license to use this product" or something to that level.

    Followed closely by various claus's that allow lawsuits if you modify, edit, or use the content in any away  beyond its original intent. Some games even have one against Modding the game, even if theres mod tools! in fact, i think it was one of the elder scrolls games that had that in there saying you have to submit the mods to the publisher prior to use/distribution, so they could authorize its content and be sure it didn't infringe on their content rights.

    or was it dead island.. i can't recal, hadn't read one lately. But needless to say i found it an interesting stipulation to my games license when mods were half the sales pitch the devs threw out there.

    electronics is.. well.. a whole different field :p


  2. 0
    GrimCW says:

    yes, but more oft than not, these strangely, and often vaguely, worded "license" EULA's have bounced around and been upheld.
     True some haven't but many have, and its a rather large nuisance, especially for those of us who do enjoy our games well beyond the supported times, or like to mod them (another thing many EULA's strictly prohibit without authorization. Some go so far as threatening legal action if you modify the game without first submitting it to the publisher for clearance. yes, i have read a few :p ) with a variety of things.

    tbh its 2/3 the reason i despise the concept of Onlive going full out and becoming the standard, as well as why i refuse to use the new "ultraviolet" digital movie formats because one of the first thing it tells you is its only a temp license and they can remove it anytime without warning from your library.

    in the case of Music its been a constant fight back and forth on the right to copy/backup your cd's and even rip them to a PC. Some still insist this supports nothing but piracy.

    but for games.. its been in nearly every EULA for 10+ years now, at least IIRC the last batch i read from the days of Tribes and Quake 3 had something to the extent thereof within them.

    the letter above is still something thats kind 20 years late in the coming IMO. granted there are newer things that makes it more important than ever (such as the mentioned DRM) but most of the issues stated are literally as old as gaming itself. IIRC Nintendo went through something similar to this with the NES carts back in the 80's..

  3. 0
    DorthLous says:

    Actually, no, for a long while, EULA were making back and forth in courts. Only recently did the Supreme judge on a case that turned really nasty for the consumers.

  4. 0
    Brett Schenker says:

    Having taken look at numerous EULAs they vary greatly, especially when it comes to video games and eletronics.  The ECA has advocated for a standardized one for a while now because they're so different, over-reaching and rather complex.

  5. 0
    GrimCW says:

    tbh it doesn't surprise me one bit.

    its the same EULA more or less bundled into every movie and Music CD, though not usually stated prior to use…. This has actually been consistently upheld sadly.

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