Don Marti

Thu 23 Oct 2008 07:14:59 AM PDT

Legal ........, 4 SALE CHEAP

Mr. Bad once wrote a thoughtful essay on why we shoud give up the "IANAL" in Internet discussions of legal matters. I agree. Your average message board or mailing list is probably a better source of legal advice than the kind of lex ex ano that you find in the small print accompanying IT products.

Take this little item, which appears on a Microsoft software CD package that came bundled with an Intel motherboard that I bought.

"You do not have any rights to distribute an unopened Software package."

See, that's corporate speak right there, in case you wanted to read some today. This is still the United States of America, and we are still supposed to make laws the old-fashioned way, not by letting lawyers unilaterally decide how the law affects other people.

In a common-sense decision, SoftMan Products Co. v. Adobe Systems Inc., the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that a EULA does not have magical powers to compel obedience from someone who never agreed to it.

I'm sure the package contains some copyrighted software, but I can resell my one copy of a copyrighted work under the First Sale Doctrine. And I'm not a party to any EULA or other contract about this software. I didn't click through anything agreeing to a contract when I bought the motherboard.

This unopened package and contents is for sale for $1 US. I'll pay USPS first class postage anywhere in the USA. Mail me. First one gets it.