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Are eulas contrary to property rights?

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One of my favorite blogs on Mises.org is Copyfascism Watch because it always raises challenging questions and offers great arguments and documentation. Today, the top item concerns End User License Agreements: "One of the problems that needs to be resolved in the copyfight is the validity of licenses, which not only includes all EULAs, but Creative Commons and open-source licenses like the GNU as well. An argument cannot be made that the consumer and seller participated in a voluntary-exchange, when often the terms of the EULA are not agreed to prior to the purchase. How legitimate are the claims of manufacturers that consumers are merely buying the CDs and not the permission to install and use the software for which the consumer (rightly, I might add) believed he is paying? We do not accept that Ford or American Eagle (a clothing company) has any say in how we use the products they sell us after it is sold to us. Why then do we give software companies this right?"

On the other hand, maybe eulas can be considered a kind of covenant with the user, and we readily accept such restrictions when buying homes, for example. I want to think that the blogger is right but I'm not sure. Thoughts?

Jeffrey Tucker is Editorial Director of the American Institute for Economic Research. He is author of It's a Jetsons World: Private Miracles and Public Crimes and Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo. Send him mail.

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