What's the big deal about the Firefox EULA?

What's the big deal about the Firefox EULA?

Summary: A number of people seem to have their knickers in a twist over Mozilla's requirements to display the Firefox EULA when the program is launched the first time in Ubuntu. What's the big deal, exactly?

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TOPICS: Browser
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A number of people seem to have their knickers in a twist over Mozilla's requirements to display the Firefox EULA when the program is launched the first time in Ubuntu. What's the big deal, exactly?

The big fuss comes over the realization that Firefox 3.0 will be displaying a EULA and requiring users to agree to it before using Firefox the first time in the upcoming release of Ubuntu. We've already been displaying the EULA in openSUSE since the 11.0 release, but it seems to have caught the attention of the tech press after it appeared on Slashdot that some testers are finding it offensive.

I had a "wow, what's that about?" moment the first time I was prompted with the EULA too, but I can't really can't see roasting the Moz folks over this. If memory serves, Firefox isn't the first FOSS application to display a clickthru license. Others have done it using the GPL, just to make users aware of the license. It's possible to do away with this by shipping a build of Firefox without the branding, as Debian does with Iceweasel, but I'm betting that the majority of users are looking for Firefox by name.

But, really -- it's the content of the EULA and not the display requirement that should be the real focus here. As far as I can tell, most of the users shouting about the EULA haven't bothered to read the terms, only to act on the shock of seeing an application display a EULA on a free desktop. (I took the time to skim the EULA today, and I don't see anything objectionable about it.)

I've pinged Chris Blizzard, Mozilla's director of evangelism,  about this, and he says that the Moz folks are working on putting forward some information on why they decided they needed to do this.

While this isn't a practice I want to see become widespread, I hope reason will prevail. At worst, it's a temporary annoyance, as far as I can tell. It displays once, you click "accept" (or don't) and it goes away. What's the big deal?

What do you think? Is displaying the EULA going too far?

Topic: Browser

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36 comments
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  • LIfe must be better than the news tells us...

    If this is what people are complaining about. Then someone's not paying attention.
    T-Rexx
    • I've never understood...

      Why they waste my time with a separate accept the terms checkbox?

      ALL it needs is a message saying if you click NEXT you agree to the EULA, otherwise exit set-up.

      As for displaying the Eula on first run, why further waste anyones time.

      Isn't computing and IT about speed and convenience? not boot-lace licking!!!!
      chaz15
      • What is the difference, exactly?

        And how is this "boot lace licking"?

        0.25 seconds of your time are not that valuable for something that is happening once, since you obviously won't read the EULA anyway. FF is being up front about the terms of use.

        You've been so entirely inconvenienced.
        seanferd
        • It's becouse there is nothing to accept for end user

          The license is about distribution it further, not using the software. So Mozilla should not make users think that they need to agree to something that isn't needed to.
          EULA is about software that you need to agree to terms of use. Mozilla licens is a licens about to distribute the software, not use.
          Jxn
      • Geeze..

        Eat a grape, already!
        High Sierra
  • Well, if EVERY single program flashed up an EULA the first time you used it

    THAT would get pretty old, especially for a live disk that does not know you already accepted the EULA 2,500 times. So, maybe they should at least use Ice Weasel for the live disk.
    DonnieBoy
    • That is an issue with Live disks, not apps

      Save a profile for the Live CD, it'll help.
      seanferd
      • But still...

        You don't need to agree on anything if you want to use the software. You are not distributing it further.

        You could have a flash about your right as a user. But then you should not have a button that say you have to agree to the terms and one that say you have to quit if you don't.

        Just one button that say "Continue" or "Close".
        Jxn
  • Who Cares?

    Big deal. So what. I mean... I really don't get it. I could understand of someone was bickering over installation bugs... but a EULA? Get over it.
    Qix77
    • but it is a bug

      You as a users have nothing to agree on to use the software. So yes, it is a bug.
      Jxn
  • *yawn*

    Oh boy, do those FLOSS people complain. I can't remember the last product that [i]hasn't[/i] shown some sort of EULA when installed. As you've mentioned, even a lot of GPL products do it just to make sure you know about it.

    I guess maybe the Linux stuff doesn't do it so much? I know that in Windows, EULAs are pretty much everywhere.
    CobraA1
    • re:*yawn*

      You must be a windows user. I can't think of the last time I've seen an EULA other than at install time.

      And this is a major component of the contention. The proper way of doing things on a Debian based system is to have the package manager display the EULA during installation. If the user says "no" then the installation is canceled. If the user says "yes" then the installation continues. To display an EULA on first use violates this convention.

      The second component of the contention is that the EULA was simply displayed in a tab in the browser. The user could completely ignore it (and thus never agree to it) and still use the application. This means the EULA is entirely pointless and just a distracting bug. If Mozilla wants to say that I can't use the software without agreeing to the EULA, then this should be enforced by the software, preferably through the standard practice mentioned above.

      The third component of the contention is that Firefox is installed by default and is a major component of the Ubuntu installation--help documents for some of the default installed applications display through it, for example. What happens if a user doesn't agree with the license? Well, then they can't use the software. Unfortunately, there is no other application capable of displaying HTML. This is not a big deal if the user has internet--the can install Iceweasel, abrowser, or Epiphany. But what if the user doesn't have internet?

      So how do you solve this? Well, I suppose on the live CD you make firefox display an EULA on first launch and if the user says, "No" then you close the browser. Fixes contention 2. On an installed system you display the EULA as part of the installation. If the user says "No" the installer should offer alternative applications to use. This solves 1 and 3.
      Bob/Paul
      • You sound like a lawyer

        And you seem to be one of those type of people who must be somewhat politically correct all the time. Always over analysing the simplistic. Making a mountain out of a mole hill.

        The CD is a CD preloaded duh! Launching a "preloaded" CD with "preloaded" software which is "preloaded" can't "pre" display per installation as it's "pre" loaded DUH!!!

        So showing an "eula" is not surprising on first launch. It says, "FIRST LAUNCH" people.

        Geez, quit the crying already!
        mypl8s4u2
      • If they don't have an Internet connection...

        ...then why do they need a browser? Intranet? Yeah, huge market worry there.

        You don't have a clue how a CD works, do you? It's "read only". You can't change a file on it to show that you agreed, or disagreed, to the EULA. It's static. It is what it is, forever. So, every launch is a first launch.

        And, correct me if I'm wrong here, but unless they've changed the distribution, other browsers are available on the CD. You don't need an Internet connection to install them, whatever you might need them for without an Internet connection.

        To the whiners:
        They give you a free operating system. They give you a free browser. You bitch, whine, moan, bellyache and complain about having to click a button once?

        GROW UP!
        Dr. John
        • You don't understand this, do you?

          It's a bug as it was set up before (it's fixed now, I believe).

          Change the button label from "Accept" to "Continue" and remove the button that say don't accept.

          As there is nothing you need to accept as a user. You have only rights according to the license. If you redistribute the software it's a different issue...
          Jxn
    • Re: *yawn*

      No, Linux apps don't do it very often at all. It's a bit of a shock to see it on Linux, actually. I don't think it's a lot to get upset about, but I can see why it's a surprise (and not entirely desirable).
      Zonker_z
    • You are new to this, are you not?

      You have to accept the license of use on many software (like software from Microsoft, Adobe, Apple etc). If not, you are not allowed to use it. Therefor there is EULA (which isn't valid licens form in many countries, as licens have to be shown before you buy and install the software).

      To use most open source software, you don't need to agree on any license to use it. Only when you redistribute it. You as a user has lots of rights instead. Like have access to the source of the software.

      So yes, it is a big deal trying to make the users think that they have any obligations when to use the software and have to agree to them. As the don't have to.
      Jxn
  • The big deal is that they call it an EULA

    and the mere mention of that acronym gives some people hives. When the fact is that they could and should call it something else, because unlike other EULAs, you aren't giving away any rights that you did not already have before you read and accepted the thing. All this "EULA" does is inform the user of certain aspects of trademark laws and Mozilla's intention to protect their trademarks.

    Well, the user didn't have the right to violate Mozilla's trademark before they read the thing, and nothing's changed from having read it.
    Michael Kelly
    • % of Users

      What percentage of users actually read the thing? Lawyer jargon. And how many would decline any EULA? It's not like you have a choice to accept some of it, all or nothing people. Why is it so surprising?

      Gosh, don't tell me you'd write a blog about a public restroom having toilet paper?
      mypl8s4u2
      • You left "can" out of that first sentence.

        It should read, "What percentage of users can actually read the thing?"

        That's always been one of the main points of contention about EULAs, even sharks can't understand them.
        Dr. John