Sunday, December 9, 2007

Is the RIAA killing music?

For many decades now the public has enjoyed music of different types.  From Country, Classical, Rock, and Trance everyone has their favorite. Ever since the invention of electricity, new technologies have been developed to create better ways for the storage and transmission of music. and because of this,  we have enjoyed it on Ipod, TV, Radio, cassettes, Disk, mp3 players, live concerts, and even the home computer.
It's no joke when I say all over the world their are individuals out there policing the music you listen too.  It is not just whom you listen too, it's how you listen to it, where you got it from, and if you shared it deliberate, or not..  Countries like the UK are up in arms when a local charity can't play the music that the children have grown to love because the music police are on the prowl, and claim they have to pay up for the rights to play the music, or not play at all. Charity Forced to Pay Copyright Fee  The UK has been hit hard, but the USA is no better off. Bars in the USA are being hauled to Court because the RIAA claim they don't have a license to play the music.  Radios everywhere could be going silent because of fear of reprimand of the music police.  Some radio stations have switched to using bumper music, and none copyrighted music in order to be compliant, and not have to pay the hefty fees placed on them. Satellite is also being hit.  But get this! It is not just the everyday Joe, or Sally trying to fileshare that is being hauled to Court.  It is also Businesses being hauled in just for the fact that their customers can hear the little radio playing down the hall in a small office owned by the secretary. Yup you heard that right.   The RIAA's radio lawsuit  It is not just one type it is free music also that is under attack.  RIAA Sues Radio Stations For Giving Away Free Music  Then there is this: Facts about the RIAA's Digital Radio Copy Protection Proposal  So the public formed a new type of radio station... 100% RIAA free radio and podcast plus  stonerrock radio   Whole Wheat Radio Could Creative Commons Radio be next? I am sure there are other RIAA Free Radio broadcast out there for you to choose from.  But to note, these are all independent artist that don't mind sharing their music with the public. 
Now Attorneys are fighting back against the RIAA.  See here:  Recording Industry vs The People and also States are fighting the RIAA.  The state Attorney General's office of Oregon is fighting them "It is a really huge step when the head law enforcement officer of a state wants to investigate the RIAA's evidence-gathering techniques," said Ray Beckerman, a New York-based lawyer who has been defending individuals in RIAA lawsuits." Read the whole article here: Oregon: Ground Zero in fight between RIAA, alleged music pirates?   Here is a list of Attorneys willing to go up against the RIAA: Directory of Lawyers Defending Against RIAA Lawsuits
So my take on the whole matter at hand is the public, and the States are not going to let the music die without a good fight.  Yes I do boycott anyone associated with the RIAA.  Plus their Artist.  I have not bought a CD in months now.  Plus I went one step further, and stopped going to their concerts as well.  Why? Because Artist have a choice now.  They are not dependant on the RIAA to get their music bought, or even heard.  I just hope that this whole farce does not drag on for years.  The RIAA seems to be funded well.  But there are searches online that can tell you if the music you own is RIAA funded RIAA Radar  The RIAA Radar is a tool that music consumers can use to easily and instantly distinguish whether an album was released by a member of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Plus a few have released the  RIAA Hit List located here: TECHTV VAULT: RIAA Hit List  
The RIAA went after the consumer for which for years was permitted to copy etc, and by law is still permitted to copy their cds.  This info is in the copyright act.  View this here: Copyright Law of the United States  You can copy a cd, but you can't share the copied cd, or any type of copy you make that is copyrighted.  I don't think music is dead as of yet.  But if the RIAA keeps up with their law suit happy war monger vendetta against the public and the Businesses around the world, they eventually wont have a public listener, or buyer.  You can't blame people for your own actions.  You do reap what you sow.  The RIAA, needs to save what little reputation they have left.  Other than to die humiliated, untrustworthy, broke, and hated by all.  "Until Now"  The whole world now wants a piece of the RIAA.  Who can blame them?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

AT&T threatens to disconnect subscribers who criticize the company

 It has come to light that AT&T has rolled out new Terms of Service for its DSL service that restricts users, while leaving the proof as a rather abstract concept.  Here's the skinny, "…In section 5 of its legal ToS, AT&T stipulates the following:

AT&T may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by you, without notice, for conduct that AT&T believes (a) violates the Acceptable Use Policy; (b) constitutes a violation of any law, regulation or tariff (including, without limitation, copyright and intellectual property laws) or a violation of these TOS, or any applicable policies or guidelines, or (c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.

The Translation: "conduct" that AT&T "believes" "tends to damage" its name, or the name of its partners, can get you booted off the service. Note the use of "tends to damage": the language of the contract does not require any proof of any actual damage."  Nice, so much for free speech!  So AT&T can terminate your service regardless of what proof they have, they only need to hate "your cause".   Plus who has time to look up ALL of their parents, affiliates and subsidiaries. And who are they?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Can Spam

Consumer wise the following thread I placed on a forum, but because it deals with a problem that computer users have to address on a day to day basis, I decided to place it on my blog.  There have been many to say that if you block spam from one direction, then you are opening it in another.  This may be true, but if harsh penalties were in place instead of the slap on the wrist then chances are many will take heed, and not want the raft of the law down upon them. The laws we have in place right now don't even address all of the problems we have to address everyday when it comes to email spam.  What most don't realize is that even though your home computer is online, and you are having a good time online, or taking care of that trip you plan to take, or even brushing up on the news... You share the Internet with Business too.  What vulnerabilities you face every day, Business faces too.  So I decided to post this.  It does not mean it is the answer to the problem.  It just might instead open your eyes up to what EVERYONE faces everyday online.  The major fact is that business websites including my own about 90% of the emails received is spam.  This means that your ISP, your bank online, or even the store you visit online fights spam at a very large scale every day of the week too.  Many businesses have disabled email through their company online website.  I, myself put in place a new system to handle email, and did away with my own email accounts at my domain website in order to stop the spam.  But it did not stop entirely, I still get about twenty each day.  
On to my post...
While affiliates can help to sell products, they are pretty simple to sign up for, and sell the products that you like selling.  I have tested some of the websites that you can sign up to be a affiliate. There is not much screening done at all. Some do not screen at all. Just sign up, and get the code.
I have asked in the past as to why they permit a affiliate to advertise without showing a valid ID that can be reported to the "RIGHT" website that is paying them? For those whom do not know... When you get a spam email it includes a link, and for the most part the portion of it is the only part there is that shows who is fixing to get paid.  The problem with this is... For the most part the link goes to a website on the product, but it does not mean "That" website is the one paying them. Certain company's allow them to set up the webpages as they see fit. They only ask that certain elements be present on the page. They can use free hosting company's, email, their own paid website, forums, etc. So I am just curious to the fact if they "had" to use a ID that also showed whom was paying them, with maybe a built in address in the ID, or someway to identify who was paying them would this help to cut down on the abuse of the affiliate programs out there? This could also cut down on the amount of Spam. It would cut down on the amount of Spam because the ID would link to the payer, and the spammer would not be able to change the ID in any way in order to hide behind the link. Because the ID they use has to be valid, and because part of their ID is also the information you need incase of abuse. They don't get paid, unless they use that FULL ID. Then the ones getting the Spam would only have to grab that ID check the link in the ID or what ever and go to that website, and file a report on the spammer. The second part of this that needs to be done is the fact that the affiliate paying websites, a lot of them do not have a link to report bad affiliates at. So this would have to be implemented also.  Or maybe the ones paying affiliates would have to announce to maybe the FTC, or some other enity whom among their affiliates made the most money for that quarter? Or that year? Or even that month?  The idea here is to get the ones paying the affiliates to show a little responsibility here.  
Next and this is a maybe, is the ID would be enforced, and no USA affiliates will be allowed to inter into this type of business unless the company hiring them follows the rules.  make it illegal for any affiliate in the USA to go to a foreign country that does not use the same rules, and make the penalty harsh if they do.  Extra fines, that maybe are put into a kettle to help cover the cost of the program maybe?

Plus! The ones allowing the spammer to Spam could be held more accountable, because in the past this has been the number one reason why these websites claim they can't catch them spamming, or do anything about it. or maybe they do know, but choose to do nothing about it.  While you are at it to keep them from claiming 1st 2nd and 3rd party affiliation be sure you cover all the bases and that includes any one on something like a tier.  This way no one can say that person is 2nd tier therfore the rules don't emply.

Next we could have a list of websites that have a bad reputation, and possibly block their emails, and website popups out right server side because we have a better way of knowing whom is doing the spamming from where.  Don't follow USA rules on hiring USA affiliates, and USA affiliates will be ban from participating in your affiliate program.  This also means that banks, and places like paypal would not be able to accept money from a foreign country that is banned.  Cover all bases.
Now last of all you outlaw spam bots, and you place on these individuals very very hefty fines, and imprisonment  for many years, they lose their house because their business has destroyed business, or is hurting business.  etc.  Don't play games with them hurt them where it counts.  After all they are hurting everyone online with their botnets, and their zombies.  What they are doing is deplorable.  Show them no mercy. 
Now you educate the public on how to tell if the affiliate is using a valid ID, and they are following the rules.  It will be those websites that are deemed Spam friendly, and the public will know they can visit those websites.  They can ignore all other spam they receive.
Treat some of them like drug pushers.  because that is what they are selling drugs not approved in the USA, and is being sold by a  foreign country and not sold by USA standards.  Many individuals are scammed, or lose their kidneys, etc because of drugs sold by spammers are illegal in the USA because of their content, or lack of.  get them for fraud too while you are at it.
Another thing to consider is to have someone create a software that works like a anti-virus software, but works on servers or host websites that scans for Spam pages not in compliance.  If the content is nothing but advertising, it should say so in the header of the page.  The ones not labeled as advertisements will be removed, and you would almost have to include the same ID as above. Or include the identifying information of the one supplying the product.  This here could be one of the main keys to the whole system working properly.  A good bonus to this is this could possibly do away with domains that are nothing but advertisments.  A website that is page after page of nothing but ads could be found easier, and if possibe (Big IF) maybe a means to warn the public they are fixing to visit a advertising domain.  Or some sort of warning.  Like I said a (Big If).
There are pitfalls to this, the major one is: What is considered a advertisement?  Would you look for key words?  Or look for key sentences?  Does the admission of a certain type word make the whole page a advertisement?  Do you remove content simply because the website is getting web hits that are coming from a certain ISP? Do you remover the content simply because a ISP asked you too?  I believe you would have to study how anti-spam software works.  You would also have to have a team that could inspect WebPages that you are getting complaints from.   This would get Hosting companies more envolved with the people they are hosting content for.  Even though some may not like this, in the end I believe it's a good idea.  In the past and even now days very few Web Host know exactly whom they are giving space too on the Internet, and what exactly they are doing with that web space.  So this idea makes everyone more accountable for content.

The fact is that up till now they claim a majority of spammers are in the US. If this is true, then possibly a better system for affiliates to follow may be in order.  The USA needs rules for affiliates to follow in order to protect consumers, and business from spam.  No one has of yet come up with anything that works, and this includes the Can Spam Act
Now I know what you are thinking...  that there is no way the USA would ever put this type of system in place, it is way harsh, and may even be too harsh.  Yes it could be far fetched, the idea is to get you to think as a consumer, but also to think ahead when you get that that new very large hard drive.  Do you want twice or three times of spam coming to your inbox? The fact is Spam is taking over the Internet.  The Can Spam Act still allows spammers to spam.  They found a way around the laws, and went back to work spamming in less than a few weeks time.   It is the one lucrative business that someone can hide behind, and never be seen.   Put them in the public eye along with the one that is paying them, and hopefully we will see a differance.  Opting out does not work, placing (spam) in the subject line does not work, and neither does the fines and jail time they have put in place work.  The FTC has stated: "Based on the FTC's experience in more than 60 cases that targeted spam, the report notes that there are three hurdles for the FTC and other law enforcers in anti-spam investigations: identifying, and locating the spammer; developing sufficient evidence to prove the spammer is legally responsible for sending the spam." Even my ideas are ideas, but it does accomplish this.   We need, and this includes everyone to be able to take control of our inboxes.  This is why I posted this. I just have not thought of a better way than this so far.  So if you know of anything better then comment on my blog. 

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Security Software reviews

I run a list on Yahoo, and occasionally I will get a question on the very subject of all of these websites online that recommend Security software or not.  They ask time, and again on how do you know if their review on the software is a good one?
There are no clear cut rules on whom can place these reviews online.  You only need a computer, and a small bit of love or hate for the software.
OH Wait!
Um this means anyone can place their reviews for a product online.  Including the ones selling the product, or advertising it.  Even a rival! So regardless if you have a motive or not, you can pretty much say what you want about the product because in doing so may get you nice rewards, like a check every month. 
So check out the website first before taking their word for it.  See if they are offering the product, or advertising the product.  They may advertise on that page, or they may advertise on a page  not even related to the software.  Be sure they have their customers in good mind, and not their wallets.   
You need to watch other websites too that are only online to bash products.  These website tend to all have one thing in common, and that is, none of their reviews are good ones.  They may bash in order to get you to purchase a rival product.  Or they may just have a hatred for the product.
A well rounded review website shows no biased reports.  They don't limit their reviews in any way.  So say you did post a bad review, no one working on the website would remove your review just because it was a bad review.  The same goes, if you had of given it a good review.  Some don't want good reviews, they just want as much dirt as they can find on the software, they could care less if you like the product.  However you could get your post removed regardless if the review is good or not simply because of the language you used.
The same goes for a website that has a team of people that do nothing but review software.  They will have good reviews, and bad reviews. 
But, the BBB will tell me if the product is a good one or not?
The BBB will only give you reports for the business.  The larger the company, the less chance of you even finding a report on the company.  The smaller the company the better chance they are not even listed on the BBB.  The BBB does not have advice on the product itself.  Yes they may (or might) have info on the transactions for the product.  So it is still a good idea to visit them, and see if they have a listing for that website.
Your security software is one of the most precious of softwares you have on your computer.  Be sure you check around at several places first.  It is also best to do a trial run of the software, before purchasing it.  Not all of your security software will run flawlessly on your computer. 
Last but not least...  If someone is advertising this type software as if you have spyware, adware, virus, or worm on your computer, then just use the esc key to leave that website (located in the upper left hand corner of your keyboard)  and use your own search methods to find out if you do have a problem with your computer.  Don't let these websites use scare tactics to get you to download their software. Most have bad motives for using these scare tactics1 to get you to download their software.  The biggest motive is spyware, and viruses. The second biggest motive is to get you to purchase so they can make money off of you.  You never want to be scared into buying a product.  Never!
1 You need to use the esc key because some of these websites have their windows set up in a way that it doesn't matter what option you click the download still happens. Thus, you end up with the download regardless of what you click.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

(Slashdot and Digg links) Retailer Refuses Hardware Repair Due To Linux installed

manufacturing fault: the hinge to the display has started to crack the plastic casing. Repair was refused, because he has Gentoo Linux on the laptop, replacing the Windows Vista that was pre-installed. PC World said that installing Linux had voided the warranty and there is nothing they will do. The manager said that he has been told to refuse any repairs if the operating system has been changed.  Poster to /. (slashdot) will review comments for your advice.
This guy did nothing wrong, he only installed what most computer stores refuse too offer their customers.  PC World is one of the largest manufacturers of computers in the UK.  If they win this which I doubt, it will open the door up for other manufacturers, like in the USA to try the same stunt.  Many so far have offered advice on slashdot that range from postings like this tidbit posted by  h4rm0ny:
PC World might have a legitimate case in refusing software support for software they didn't supply, it is not legitimate for them to use this to support a different area of failure. Whilst car analogies are not useful for arguing on /., they can be useful in explaining things to a lawyer - it's like changing the car radio and then getting a problem with the exhaust. PC World have taken a look at that radio and said - "we don't support that radio, we can't fix your exhaust."
Now if you look at this and take it word by word it means is that any software you install on the OS could be reason for the manufacturer not to cover the warranty.  They just simply have to hate the software, etc.  They don't like Firefox... Too bad we wont fix your computer because you have Firefox on your computer. 
Yes it's a stupid reason, but I just wanted to point this out because it is well worth mentioning. 
As  Aenoxi pointed out on slashdot:
Section 14(2) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 imposes a statutory implied warranty that goods sold in the course of a business are of 'satisfactory quality'. This expressly includes issues of durability. Section 6 of the Unfair Contract Terms Act states that when dealing with a consumer, liability arising from a breach of the s. 14 implied warranty cannot be excluded or restricted by reference to any contract term.
So to me this means that the contract that Tikka agreed to is void because the contract itself is unfair due to a warranty contract term.  It's unfair because the durability of the laptop was compromised due to a defect, and the warranty is refused due to a none hardware issue.  So Tikka should be able to get the warranty to cover the cost of fixing the laptop.  Using the OS as a excuse for not fixing the laptop is ludicrous. 
Go to Slashdot if you have good sound advice, or even if you happen to be a Attorney in the UK.  The poster needs help, and or advice.
This same story is on Digg also located here:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Do Not Call Registry or lack of it

Time-share operator Bluegreen and other companies have found creative ways around restrictions on telemarketing
You sign up at Malls, and try to win prizes. You fill out questioners, and surveys. It's all a ploy to get your name taken off of the Do Not Call Registry.
The fine print spells it out.
The loopholes are many, and there is not much that the public can do about it except not to sign up for anything that has a booth at the Mall or even your favorite grocery store near by. The fine print states you are allowing their affiliates to call you. They could have as many as 30 plus of these, it doesn't matter your phone will be ringing off the hook very shortly, and their is not much you can do about it because you gave them permission too.
"We're doing [the sweepstakes] to try and make phone calls," he says. "[The fine print] is there. They should read it, but most people don't."
So the business is blaming it on the consumer, and in the meantime the FTC which got a substantial decrease in complaints is now rising again.
"The loophole in the Do Not Call law allows firms to contact individuals with whom they have an "established business relationship". Such relationships can be established through a purchase, which gives the company an 18-month window to contact the customer. Alternately, marketers can contact consumers for three months after they make an "inquiry," an ill-defined loophole that critics say telemarketers are driving a truck through by way of sweepstakes, raffles, and other deceptive means."
So while it was nice for a while not to receive the calls during dinner time, many households are being flooded with calls again because of the loopholes in the law. It was just a matter of time before the dirtbags found ways around it, and the major cause is that Congress put the "established business relationship" clause in the Bill, and when they did that, it was like giving the telemarketers the ok to call. This is all they needed the most simple way to get around the deception.
So next time your at a Mall, or any type store that has those sign up tables or booths, run over and pick up one of their registry forms, and check out the fine print. If there are many people signing up, be sure to tell them what you already know about the failing Do Not Call Registry list.
The Link: The Do Not Call Registry

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Egregious EULA and TOS Clauses Part II

***Judge Robreno faulted the Second Life TOS on numerous grounds:

  • lack of mutuality. The TOS gave Linden Research the right to terminate users "for any reason or no reason," the right to invoke several one-sided remedies to protect its own rights, and the right to modify the TOS at any time, including the arbitration provision.
  • excessive arbitration costs. Up-front costs for arbitration were significantly greater than the costs of filing a federal court action.
  • venue in California.  The TOS unreasonably demanded that Second Life users travel to California to  arbitrate claims  commonly involving minimal sums.
  • confidentiality agreement. The gag order on arbitration proceedings called for by the TOS allows Linden Research to accumulate knowledge about arbitrations involving the TOS, while individual plaintiffs must begin from scratch in every case.
  • business realities. Judge Robreno said that Linden Research made no showing that such a one-sided agreement was necessary to conduct its business

 The court denied Linden Research's motion to compel arbitration, holding that the Second Life terms of service agreement -- which called for arbitration -- was procedurally and substantively unconscionable.
The court concluded, the Second Life TOS seeks to impose a one-sided dispute resolution scheme that tilts unfairly, "in almost all situations," in Second Life's favor.

The facts that I want to note is that 99.9% of all of these EULAs and TOS agreements favor the business establishment, leaving the user with NO rights, and NO way to dispute the EULAs or TOS other than not using the website, or software.  It is also important to point out that most of the TOS agreements fall in the category of just plain unlawful practices when it comes to the use of all of their services.  None of their TOS in my opinion would hold up in court.  Just like the EULA the company could change the TOS at any time, and the user is automatically meant to accept ALL contents regardless if they had seen the new TOS agreement or not.  Even if the person agreed to a TOS or EULA the day before, and a new one was released the next day you were still bound by the new agreement. 
The TOS is on most websites, If you have a company name, then you have a TOS. you may even have both a TOS and a EULA, some have several different versions depending on software, or use of a certain online product like games, webtools, file tools, etc, and as you know most read like a book, and most contain about the same content, while others contain even more outlandish content.  But the facts are that even the Courts are noticing how badly written these EULAs and TOS's are.  They are also taking notice at how many rights are being taken away from the users.  So many of the agreements are being revoked by the Courts before they even get started on the Court cases.  If you have a TOS agreement then you need to read it as if you were on the side of the user.  Plus you need to take into consideration the above points that were made by the Courts in California.  Some will argue that this case was held in California, and their laws are much different from other States.  Well this is just the case to a certain extent.  Judges all over can smell a bad EULA or TOS.  They could have a case in your State, and come to the same agreements as the Judge did in California.  Show the down right stupidity, and the lack of user rights in a TOS, or a EULA, and watch that judge explain why he/she faulted them.  make a EULA or TOS agreement that contains unlawful practices and watch the courts make a spectacle out of you, or a example out of you for other companies to learn from. 
This however is not all the software, and website companies fault though.  Yes I know you will say "yes it is." But it's not.  It is the users fault too because most never read the EULAs or the TOS agreements.  I am willing to bet that most of you don't even know what you agreed to in them.   When you give the "I agree" ok it is just like saying their practices are ok by you.  You are telling them they can get you to agree to anything just so long as you get to use their website or software.  You don't care about the agreement.  Do you care?  Are you even worried that one day a far fetched agreement might fall though the cracks, and the Courts may give the agreement the "OK".  Does this bother you?
Oh and here is you something to think about,  in a small town a man went to the neighborhood software store, and bought a software, and took it home.  Between the time of taking the wrapper off, and installing the software, their was a  EULA and or a TOS on a website he had to agree too.  Part of it read that the software company owned all works created by their software.  The other part was if he did not agree, then don't install the software.  So he didn't.  He took wrapper and all back to the software store.  They refused to give him a refund.  They said the software was opened and they could not accept the software back for that reason.  They had a no refund policy, and the guy was out of some major bucks.  I think it was in the 300 dollar range.  He took them to court, and in his dispute he said the agreement and the whole nine yards of the TOS and use of their website was not on the outside of the wrapper.  If it had of been he never would of bought the software.  Apparently part of the software also was linked to a website that was owned by the software maker.  He was hit by three TOS agreements before he even began to install the software.  The Judge ruled in favor of the purchaser because he said that it is not the purchasers fault that the software has the rules about the ownership of the works created by him were owned by the software company.   He had every right not to accept the TOS, or the EULA if he did not like them.  Then the judge says it is not right for the software store to put a burden of lost of payment on the purchaser when it is the fault of the software company's TOS and or EULA.  So the guy won his case because the Judge said that refund policy puts a bad burden on the buyer.
I can see this as a problem too if your trying to buy software and it cost major money, and the EULA or TOS agreement is lame, so you return it, and purchase another software.  If you eat the cost of the first one, and say you paid like 329 bucks for the first software, and another 289 bucks for the second.  That is 618 bucks for just one software if you ate the cost of the first one. 
Take-it-or-leave-it user policy is a policy that a person has to accept as is, and they can't dispute, or make changes to the policy regardless if they are capable of doing so.  Hopefully most of you are aware that when signing a contract you are, or you can make changes to the contract and sign or initial those changes you made.  It is then up to the person, or business to read over your changes, and accept or deny your changes by also not including their initials, or including them in the areas they accept the changes.  Then you have the burden of going back over the contract seeing what was accepted, and possibly making changes so that the contract is acceptable for both sides.  This is a law in every State that I know of.  You have the right to change any contract.  They don't necessarily have to accept it as you have written, but they can not deny you the right to change the contract. 
A EULA or a TOS is a contract between a company, and a person(s) or between two person(s),  As I had said in Part one of this subject... EULAs or TOS agreements put duress on the person having to accept the terms.  Because it gives them a Take-it-or-leave-it option only.  Some people agree only because they have no choice but to agree they need the software, or they need to use the website tools.  Some software and or website tools have either certain tools, or certain perks that no other website tool, or software has included. 
Surprise Terms are terms buried in TOS or EULAs that are hard to find.  They can be buried under headings not related to the heading, or placed in a spot in the agreement unrenowned to the reader. They may be in very small text, or be included in a paragraph that reads like a book. The paragraph may not be related to the surprise term at all.  There is nothing in the text that brings attention to the agreement regardless of how important the text may be.  Anything related to the important text is not set in bold, has no clear heading of the subject, is buried, or hard to find in the agreement, and most likely would not bring concern to the person deciding to agree or not to the TOS or EULA.  It is intentionally buried in the full text of the agreement.

Unconscionability means unreasonably unfair to one party, marked by oppression, or otherwise unacceptably offensive to public policy <an unconscionable clause> <finds the contract…to have been unconscionable at the time it was made —Uniform Commercial Code>

one-sided remedies to resolve disputes The best way to explain this is the TOS or EULA favors the company in all aspects when it comes to resolving issues it is "What the company wants" and you as the user have to agree to it regardless of whom is right, or how ever far fetched the remedy is.  They may dissolve your files, or take privy away from you, it doesn't matter if you did anything wrong or not. They have the right to do it regardless.  Most companies claim they have this right because they are supplying the service to the public etc.  But in court this would not hold up.  A one sided ruling that favors the "company only policy, their rules, take it or leave it"  does not resolve issues, it only creates new ones, and the new ones are mostly legal issues. 

If I ever had a EULA or and TOS disagreement dispute, yes I would take them to court.  I would take their whole ridicules TOS and EULA with me too.  I would note the size of the EULA or TOS, and pain staken note every rule they had in the agreement.  I would show the courts how they stripped my rights from me, and I would point out if I had any rights in my favor (most don't). I would also if I could, tell the courts that part of the suit is the company if found in my favor, would have to clean up their EULA and TOS for my State I live in, or nationwide.  (May not happen, but it's a nice thought.) 

Friday, June 8, 2007

Egregious EULA Clauses

Imagine now for a few minutes...
If you as a consumer had a radio in your car, and the radio was say, a tape deck, with just AM/FM stereo with no bass boost, no cool features at all... Now you go to your favorite Tech store, and you spot a radio system that is lets say- $150.00 and you notice it is on sale, and it retails for lets say-  $205.00.  It has bass boost, 5 cd changer, stereo, AM/FM radio.  It kicks butt over the old system you already have in your car.  It's not the very best system, but it sure beats what you already have in your car. So you purchase the new radio. Take it home, and go to install the system in your car.  But you are stopped in your tracks because it is considered a upgrade instead of a fix.  You can't install it, because you don't have the tools to install it, and you find out the radio is NOT a fix for the existing system.  So you have to take the car to the Tech store because only they can install it using special tools, and you have to pay them a upgrade fee of say $199.00.  Plus instillation fees, of $75.00.   Because there is nothing wrong with your older radio, it still works, you just can't play CDs and the thing sounds like a tinty wannabe radio.  I mean it sounds bad, but it still works.  So the new radio will cost you  $424.00  total instead of just the $150.00 for JUST the radio. 
Lets take it a step further here... Say you bought the radio, took it home just to find out you have to pay GM a $335.00 licensing fee before you could install the upgraded radio system?  Why you say?  Because you are changing out the hardware that came originally equipped on the car.
Is this fair?  Is it right to charge the consumer just because they want a better hardware product?  
Another narrative to this is the radio died.  Your car is brand new, so you run to the dealer and they tell you it has to be replaced,  so the guy at the dealership installs another radio  and it is used!  Been sitting on the shelf for months, right after they refurbish it, and no telling if it works or not.  Who knows it could be a lemon.  But you can't have a new radio because when you bought the car you was agreeing to their 50 page EULA!  Remember those papers you had to sign?  Too bad if you don't, because you DID buy the car, and drove it off the lot, so that means you agreed to their terms of service!  So the dealer does not have to give you a brand new radio, because it is stating this in their EULA.
Here is something else...  Say you bought a brand new car, and drove it off the lot, and went straight to the radio tech guy to have him install a bass, and subwoofer speaker set in the trunk of your new car.  But he tells you he can only do that if you pay for a new licensing fee which will cost you $299.00.  But then he notices you have a certain brand of car, and he then tells you that you can't because that is considered a enhancement feature, and you are not permitted to fix a flaw with the radio system you have in that brand of car.  IN other words, you may know it will play better, but you are not permitted to upgrade the speakers to play the radio better.  You can not fix the technical limitations of the radio. What you have installed in the car, is what you have to deal with, and you can not change it to make it better. 
Each of these narratives are happening to you right now as you read this blog.  It is not happening to your car though.  It is happening to your computer.  As you read this, the software and hardware as well as the manufacturer has stripped your consumer rights away from you.   So far a EULA has not been challenged in Court by the consumer market.  One reason is that because the industry has large players.  It would be hard for you, or even a small run business to go up against them.  After careful digging around.  I found out that most of the EULAs would not have a chance in the court room.  Mainly because they are so far fetched, and outlandish.  Most of the EULAs strip the consumer of their rights, and leave them with no recourse to resolve any type issue in their favor, that they may encounter with their computer.  You bought it, so therefore you agreed to the terms of the EULA.  It doesn't matter how outlandish the EULA is... The EULA is theirs, and you have to agree to it regardless.  I tend to believe that if a consumer HAS to agree only under duress.  The EULA is already compromissed, and is void.  They have no choice if they have no other options but to use that certain software, or that certain computer brand. They can't fight because the industry has such a hold right now, they would be hard pressed even trying to find a Lawyer to tackle the case. 
So if someone else demands they use a certain software, or hardware, or if they can only afford a certain brand of computer, unfortunately you have no say so on either end. Your very livelihood is shot to hell, this industry has their own rules, and their rules can change every day of the week, and it doesn't matter when you first agreed to the EULA... You will always be in agreement to their new and improved version of their EULA regardless if you read the EULA or not. Because you are still using their software, or their hardware, or computer brand.  
In all honesty, to me it is a forced agreement on every level.  You need the software,  you can't say no to the EULA, because you need the software.  Plus with today's computers, and everyone telling everyone they need it for school, work, home.  How can you say no?  You are screwed as soon as you take the computer out of the box. It is the same way with software.  The industry knows this.  They are not stupid.  They know they can put what ever they want in the EULA, you will either read, and ignore, or just ignore the EULA and click on the "I accept".  They are counting on you to do either of these things.  Because they know you have no choice but to accept.  They also know this is duress.  I guess they are hoping you are not that smart to see it, for what it really is. 
No one is looking out for the consumer.  No one cares?  It may look that way.  But until something major happens, and the whole computer industry is put on trial, don't expect this same industry to care.  They are number one, and that is all they care about.  Eventually the crazy rules will spill into the business sect.  (If they haven't already, they could of, and the business industry hasn't looked at the EULA either.)  The lawsuits will come. Just look for a big player that has grown tired of the riff raff, and the outlandish EULAs.  They will be the one to balance the playing field. It is a shame it has to happen in Court.  But by then, it could be a blessing too. Because if it's bad for the business sect, it will be twice as bad for the everyday consumer. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Weebit asks... "What is the total cost of all the software on your computer to date?"

Why? Because we the computer users, are accused of being cheap, free loathing SOB's that would rather steal, or install free software. So the idea I have is to prove them wrong, or right.
I will start by saying my computer cost me $1500 in 2003. It came with purchased software installed. Microsoft Works, and a $79.00 security suite. I do not remember how much I paid for the Works software.
Since then I have bought 2 graphics software totaling about $150.00 two more security software, one was $50.00 and another was $39.00. I bought 4 games totaling about $100.00 plus cd burning software that cost $59.00. I had to purchase this twice, the first time I purchased this the software cost $29.00 or so, the software didn't work, so I ended up purchasing the $59.00 CD burning software.
My Grand total is $506.00 for software running on a computer that is four years old now, and considered low end, the cost about $250-$300 by todays standards for a computer.

I am
applauded at this because I know people that have spent twice and three times as much for the software on their computer. There is nothing as bad as being called cheap, or a free loather, or a thief. Yes someone could argue that this spans over four years. But consider this also. Some of my software I have currently will expire at the end of this year. Thus ends my critical updates etc, for the software. So back to the drawing board I go.

One stance on this is we shouldn't be forced to purchase software for a computer that is not worth the install. Yes you could argue that you should just purchase a new computer. Well, you don't purchase a new home every three years, or neither do you replace a stereo, DVD player, TV, or stove every two to three years. So why should a computer be any different?

Many could also argue that it is a computer so therefore you know you have to update it, and purchase those new licenses. Well, your car has a computer, so how come we don't have to run to the car shop to update that computer twice a year at least, and purchase a new license to operate it once every two years?

Yes that is ludicrous. Could you imagine for a moment going down the freeway at 65mph and all of the sudden you see a warning light on your dash that says, "update now to continue."

So the software industry said "that it is critical to install updates, and to upgrade your software for security reasons". I wont argue with this. Because it's true. But if I have already bought a license then I should at least be able to upgrade at a substantial lower price. I don't mean a 10% discount either. It's not like they change ALL the code in this software. Yes they do occasionally change out the design, the layout, and for security purposes they fix the holes. But isn't this more of a programmer's problem for not making the software more user friendly, and secure in the first place? Is it ethical to put the cost on the consumer just because the programmer(s) screwed up?

Another argument is that personal computers, and business computers are not the same as any other type electronics that you may have. Well it plugs into the wall, and it comes in different flavors just like any type of electronic equipment that you may have. So much for that argument.

In my home, I do not have any other type item that has cost as much as my computer has to upkeep. No
electronic equipment, or appliance has cost as much as my computer has.

My main concern here is the fact that I don't think vendors understand that they are not the only vendors making a buck for their software. The whole picture can be devastating for a family if they are continuously purchasing updates, and licenses. This can add up, so if anything happens within the next ten years it will be the decline of users purchasing computers because they can't afford to upkeep them. Hopefully now you can see why people run for the free or Open Source software when ever they can.

As always I am sure there are many arguments to this story. But, how much have you paid so far for software for the lifetime use of your computer? How much did your computer cost? What is the age of your computer?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

most recent DVDs released by Sony wont play in some dvd players including Sony's

Specifically Stranger Than Fiction, Casino Royale, and The Pursuit of Happyness have some kind of 'feature' that makes them unplayable on many DVD players. This doesn't appear to be covered by the major media yet, but this link to a discussion over at is a eye full. Click for full story at
What is going on here? Why weren't the consumers informed about this? Hate to say it folks but this is a clear abuse of the consumer.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

EBay was Hacked!

" So, did eBay have a responsibility to contact their users whose personal financial information had been exposed to the world on their site? Under California law it would seem that not only does eBay have a responsibility, but failure to do so is against the law. It would seem that the threat of exposure of recent hackings and misfeasance on eBay inc.'s part is of more concern to the company executives than the obvious malfeasance they have just taken part in by failing to contact the account-holders whose personal information was recently compromised on"

"As early as last summer, we heard users equating eBay to Enron - lately we're seeing this on a daily basis from many sources. So is eBay heading down the same path? Insiders say yes. If current trends continue however, there may be even less warning of the impending collapse than the employees and shareholders at Enron had. Any company that is entrenched in scandal can absolve itself immediately by admitting to malfeasance, outlining a plan for rectification and show proof that the company is dedicated to following through. eBay has done none of this. Another tactic that is commonly used in conjunction with the said method of absolution is to name a scapegoat. Let the sins of the company crush the scapegoat, diverting attention away from the real culprits and away from the real intentions of the company. Using a scapegoat is basically a way to deal with an issue with less chance of reprisal from the community of employees and users and Wall Street."

For those that do not know, eBay has been under attack by a Hacker in Romania. Some are calling the person Robin Hood. But eBay is busy biting their bottom lip, and ignoring their customers. So if you plan to visit eBay, you better think twice before leaving any personal information. If eBay falls there is no telling who's hands your personal information will be left too. You can read a very lengthy page on eBay's tactics, and antics here: also included on this page are nice pics so you can see what you have been missing on eBay.

On a personal note about 15 or so people had all of their personal info posted online for the whole world to see. This included addresses, phone numbers, and bank information! These people were not contacted by eBay. A person called a few of the contacts, and found out the info was real. Then a
anonymous person called one contact to inform them to change their password, but not telling the contact why. So it is important that if you have a eBay account, to put a fraud alert on your credit accounts. Just in case it was your account that was compromised. Because there was enough info posted on that website that contained enough info on a person to do major damage.

It does not look like eBay has any intentions to contact any of the eBay account holders. I am just wondering if a lawsuit will be filed or if any charges will be filed against eBay for this?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Delta agreed to reimburse Charles for the full cost of his original flight after a employee stole his camera

When you travel you expect that the person handling your luggage is not pulling out valuables in your bags, and selling them on ebay. Delta needs to change their policy they are making it too easy for their employees to get away with theft. I guess the theif didn't count on someone tracking them down. We need more consumers like Mr. Charles M. Unfortunately Delta Airlines didn't handle this customer very well in the first place. They get a C- but only because they did the right thing AFTER the radio station got involved. So to me they were cleaning up their PR. If Charles hadn't of raised such a stink, I don't think Delta would of done a thing.

So how many of you consumers have gotten stung by a Airline? Post your flight horror stories in the comment section please.

Man Tracks Down And Gets Prosecuted Baggage Handler Who Stole His Camera, Delta Still Won't Refund update

"Microsoft is not a security company" said Edelmann their Security Manager

"According to the security manager, security is only a small part of what Microsoft does, suggesting it does not have as much security expertise as established security vendors.

"Microsoft is not a security company. Security is important, but it's just a little part of Microsoft," said Edelmann."

This is not funny because it is all quoted from their so called Security manager, which should be a expert.

It is also not excusable. Given today's world many users have no clue themselves when it comes to security. If you are going to produce security products then you better have a team that knows what they are doing. If you have no clue, then pull it, and let the big boys that do have a clue have a go at it. Microsoft has clearly not shown a professional attitude towards computer security. Shame on them. The one company that should care, doesn't. Instead of naming their security product OneCare, they should of named it NoCare. It's appalling to know that Microsoft was just trying to look good, and they never planed to really release a good working OneCare product. They can't convince me otherwise. The real bad thing is they have
access to all of Windows code, and they still didn't get OneCare done right. They had the opportunity to shine above the rest, and they blew it.

The biggest difference between a car breaking down, or a Boeing plane tore up, is if the brakes on the car have a fault in them, they have a recall for that model car, with those same brakes if they find they need too. If the planes have major efects in the wings, etc, they are grounded till it is fixed. Plus they can even recall the whole line if they have too to be sure it was just one plane. No one likes doing this. But they DO IT anyway! No one will recall Vista, and the removal of OneCare is a B****. I know it is because I have that crapware on my computer. The biggest thing that bothers me is the fact of the many people will think they have a nice safe computer, and as always, the major News networks will bury, or kill the article on Microsoft's blundered OneCare crapware, and the public will go on thinking they have a safe computer.

I realize it is impracticable to recall computers. But if you visit your neighborhood computer store, I bet you that many will have the OneCare running on their brand new boxes. Plus the Reps will be shoving all the good words they can come up with down your throat. When you ask them how good it is, be sure to inform them that not even Microsoft's Security Experts recommend Window's Live OneCare.

Microsoft: OneCare should not have been rolled out

Blogging so the consumer is well informed

Consumer Advocacy Sucks online. No one is protecting the consumer when it comes to the purchase of software, or hardware. Yes there are a few that do care about their customers. But a few are in the business for the money only. They show this in their EULAS, and in their copyrights, and policy's, and buyer purchases rules that you must agree too regardless if it is buried deep, or hard to find. Some of these agreements read like a book. A few are so complicated that it would take someone with a Masters Degree to sort it out. Thus my Blog was born. This comes with limitations. The news must be from a well respected website, or individual. I promise not to be biased, and give both sides of the story if there is one. Do you promise to read the most recent EULA that you have received?

EULA = End-User License Agreement