Recently I had to read yet another EULA which is often an exhausting, time eating process. At that moment I got the idea to write EULA’s in a XML like style
Disclaimer: This is a crazy idea, and far away from anything I deal usually with. It just jumped to my head and I found it funny enough to write down – and I#m sure tomorrow I will regret it. Also, I’m not a lawyer at all! So you might want to skip and forget this post.
My main problem is: most EULA’s or TOS or similar documents (in this case it was a new EULA from PayPal, btw.) are many pages long filled with important information of a quite high density. If you want to go through them you are lost if you are not used to read such texts. And even if you are used to read such texts it is still very exhausting and time eating – hardly anyone besides lawyers or concerned people read them.
Now imagine the TOS or an EULA would be spiced up with XML characteristics. For example, a part of the GPL looks usually like that:
You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.
However, it could also look like that:
You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License.
<consequences of violation>
Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.
</consequences of violation>
The advantages of such a system are clear: first of all, the existing EULA’s would not have to be altered: they could continue to exist as they are. Also, new licence agreements could be written as everyone is used to.
However, these above mentioned tags could be added – giving the parts a meaning. This makes it much easier to read and especially much easier to filter them. People could quickly check for key words and would be faced with the parts of the agreement which are necessary. Imagine next time you have to read an EULA you are faced with a set of key words to filter this EULA and simply only show all parts necessary for that given keyword. Would make reading these EULA’s much, much easier.
Of course, since we are speaking about the law system here these filtering methods would have to have a mark saying “you still have to read the rest, filtering cannot be perfect and is just here to make it easier, ladidadida”. But that’s for lawyers, and tagged EULAs would be read more often than the current existing ones, I think.
Actually, I wonder if there are already existing solutions which tag existing EULA’s and similar law texts so that lawyers can faster go through them and easier filter them.