Politics and Whatnot

Just another liberal political blog

The insanity of trying to read the Adobe Flash Player License Agreement

A website upon which I wanted to watch a video recently forced me to download the very latest version of Adobe Flash Player, that one proprietary plugin I need to view just about anything put on the internet in the 21st century.  Upon installing it, the program required me to click a checkbox if I wanted to proceed with installation, indicating that I agreed with the “Flash Player License Agreement”.  Just for shits and giggles, I decided to see what would happen if I actually tried to read the agreement:

1. First, I click on a link in the installation program saying “Read the license here”.  Easy enough.

2. I am taken to a ridiculously long page with what appears to be license agreements for every product Adobe has ever made.  There are about 10 that begin with “Adobe Flash.”  Next to this, three versions are listed: 10.2, 10.1, and 10.0.  I look at my installer, which says “Adobe Flash Player 10.3 Installer”.  How many people are supposed to be going through this process again?  Ok, I’ll just pretend it’s 10.2 and click on that.

3. I wait for my computer to  download the 3.3 MB license PDF, which is slightly larger than the size of the flash player installer.  I happen to have a non-adobe PDF reader.  Let’s say I didn’t – presumably I would have to download “Adobe Reader”.  You can probably guess what’s coming next – yes, Adobe Reader’s license is only available in PDF as well.

4. Upon opening the 280 page license agreement, I notice that it appears to be in Arabic.  Confused, I look back at the download page, which is in English.  Scrolling to the top, I see the following:

“For your convenience, when available, we have provided you with a selection of languages in which to review the product license. ”

Oh how very convenient!  I always wondered why other companies didn’t combine multiple languages into one gigantic file instead of allowing me to select my language before downloading.  At least, when I open the bookmarks toolbar, I see that they provided a link to each of the 35 languages that are included in the agreement.

5. Clicking on the English section, I notice one final irony – despite making me click on the specific product and version, this appears to be a one-size-fits-all agreement for several Adobe products, including Adobe Reader, Adobe Air, and others.  Finally, I can see the terms I’ve been waiting for.  Here’s a sample of what I’m agreeing to:

– I understand that Adobe does not warrant that Flash Player is free from defects, and I accept all of its defects.  I waive the right to receive any damages for any losses caused by Adobe, even if an Adobe representative has been advised of the possibility of such loss.

– I will not use Flash Player with any application or device that circumvents copyright protection (note that this is much broader than using it to circumvent copyright protection).

– I acknowledge that third parties may use web beacons in PDFs to track me (all I want is to watch a fucking video!)

– I acknowledge that the software may automatically connect to Adobe’s website, download an update for itself, and install without telling me, but while telling Adobe that the software has been updated.

– The software may allow third parties to store information on my computer, which they can later access, in a manner completely controlled by that third party.

– I’ll just post this one here: ” If your Computer is connected to the Internet, the Software may,
without additional notice and on an intermittent or regular basis, facilitate your access to content and
services that are hosted on websites maintained by Adobe or its affiliates…If your Computer is connected to the Internet, the Software
may, without additional notice, update downloadable materials from these Adobe Online Services so as
to provide immediate availability of these Adobe Online Services even when you are offline.”  (???)  I’m worried about the way they use the words “facilitate your access” here…

– If I’m a “business or organization”, an Adobe representative can request that I fully document how I use Flash Player and certify in writing that I am complying with all terms and conditions, and I must comply with this request within 30 days (all I did was click a fucking checkbox!)

Oh yeah, during this whole thing, the Adobe flash installer is staying “on top” of my screen, partially obstructing my view the whole time.

Whew, that took a while longer than I expected.  Hopefully just looking at the length of this post should get my pojnt across, though: click-wrap agreements are ridiculous.  The notion that anyone reads them is laughable, and it seems that even the software companies themselves don’t take them seriously, and don’t actually want you to read them, while “requiring” you to do so.


27 responses to “The insanity of trying to read the Adobe Flash Player License Agreement

  1. Anonymous February 20, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    What guarantee is their that the EULA requirements are exactly the same in all the languages in the ridiculously long document?

  2. SayWhat February 2, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Thanks people for your comments. I wondered if it was just my computer giving me a problem. Now I have to do a full scan. Have also taped my camera. plus unplug the computer when not using and turn off the router.. Miss the pre-paranoia days.

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    • Anonymous April 23, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      shut up a-hole

  4. Woof! November 26, 2014 at 4:00 am

    Thanks, so glad I wasn’t only paranoic to read and object to this disgraceful arrangement. Interestingly, just stopped using Skype on basis of similar objections to tick and flick (away your rights) agreement. Just seems like a blatant subtextual statement of “We stopped respecting you all a long time ago and laugh to ourselves at how little you can do about it.”
    It reminds me of the disorganiser mk2 parody of such agreements in Terry Pratchett’s fine discworld book “The Truth” which concludes with the manufacturer’s statement “…because you are an easily cowed moron who will happily accept arrogant and unilateral conditions on a
    piece of highly priced garbage that you would not dream of accepting on a bag of dog biscuits.” Great book, worth a read 🙂
    Thanks for this thread posting am sending to everyone.

  5. Anonymous November 19, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Still happening for version 15.0. I hate Flash so much.

  6. woweverynametaken September 15, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    A report has been filed. Let’s see if Adobe has the guts to answer for this nonsense: https://forums.adobe.com/message/6733037#6733037

  7. Anonymous September 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I agree whole hea(r)tedly!!! When I tried to read the EULA (2013-09-23), the pdf for the Flash Player License Agreement was only obtainable in Arabic!!! In my opinion, Adobe’s licensing policy stinks to high heaven. I’m not going to update. Who knows what those sneaky bastards are up to. I regret agreeing (unread – of course) to their terms in the first place. Bet they are spying on us. I’ve taped over my webcam and microphone on my netbook and will continue to get along with as few of Adobe’s ‘services’ as possible in the future. I’m glad you posted your comments in such detail. Many thanks!!! David T.

  8. Lori June 18, 2013 at 6:31 am

    I was glad to find this post. I wondered who else besides me actually tried to read the eula. In the past I could never access it.. it simply wouldn’t load on my PC or would freeze up. This time I experienced the huge version in every known language mentioned above. Is there any alternative to flash if you want to play games and view videos?

  9. Developer May 14, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    To expect users to click a “license agreement” in order to use a ubiquitous plugin makes a mockery and a complete joke of the concept of license itself — it reduces “licensing” to the level of “yeah, sure, whatever.”

    Congrats, Adobe — you’re training users to utterly disregard any real binding importance to agreeing to a license.

  10. apprehensive of adobe August 19, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Awesome article, thanks. I’ve been wondering for some time about these EULA’s – and the difficulty I encountered while JUST TRYING to find and read Adobe’s update to flash immediately sent me deep into Google to find some clarification. I found a program from BrightFort that supposedly reads EULA’s and finds impurities… only for PC. I’m now thinking of asking some Legal departments and lawyers around here if there are any watchdog organizations that actually take the time to read these devious documents and provide legible and understandable decodings of them! For now, fuck Adobe and their update. I can’t pretend that I would even understand half of this legal bullshit I’d be agreeing to.

  11. Anonymous July 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    So, after giving up reading or understanding this license agreement, did you install the software?

    • Polnwhat July 10, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      Of course, you pretty much have to in order to use the internet.

      • Markus July 11, 2012 at 1:05 am

        Me too.
        I installed the software, as it was the only way to see that video. I cross fingers there wasn’t an “all your base belong to us” in the agreement. 🙂

    • Anonymous April 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm


  12. cloudsongs May 18, 2012 at 8:42 am

    And now: “The Flash Player Settings Manager permits you to modify such settings, including the ability to limit third parties from storing local shared objects or grant third party content the right to access your computer’s microphone and camera.” Well good. Wait WHAT? It comes with the ability for third parties to access my camera and Microphone? WTF. Are they trying to warn us that an evil third party my have the ability – through their software – or are they the evil party who lets that be the default? We can change it in settings, but have you seen how many places you have to visit to even view all the settings?

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  14. Jay Maechtlen (@jmaechtlen) October 20, 2011 at 12:05 am

    same stupidity for v11. They do have a license for 10.3 now, though, Screw their update. Maybe I’ll just pull Flash altogether?

  15. Anonymous September 29, 2011 at 2:51 am

    found the licence agreement for 10.3 but could not open the file, it crashed firefox, IE 7 gave multiple errors trying to open it. Tried to report it on the support forums, but you have to create an account and login to post and -you guessed it- you have to accept a licence agreement you cannot read in order to create an account

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  17. anon September 27, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    great post. i had similar experience / thoughts; you and i are on the same page with this one. i hope more people get into linux and the free software revolution so we can collectively safeguard our rights. i like .pdf files, but honest to goodness i just don’t trust companies with a EULA like that.

  18. Anonymous September 26, 2011 at 2:51 am

    For Adobe’s convenience, we have made it as difficult as possible for you to:

    a) See the version number of your currently installed software or of the Flash® Player update.

    b) Find and read the End License Agreement.

    c) Understand what you’re installing and what it entails.

    d) Given you the best possible incentives for uncritically clicking ‘INSTALL’.

    Thank you for using Adobe® Products.

  19. Markus September 23, 2011 at 1:53 am

    I went through the same nightmare trying to read the license… and it’s not the first time!
    (I simply wanted to know whether a toolbar or some other tools or malware get installed along this update – but there’s no way to know)
    You “have to” agree to a license that Adobe doesn’t want you to read. 😦
    Needless to say, that license is illegal in my country (Italy), as it is not readily available/readable. This license wouldn’t stand a up one iota if challenged in court. 😉

  20. Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    “You agree we can use your computer and all its storage for any purpose we want, as much as we wish, for any purpose we wish, and that you will throw in that first born child, plus the second, just for yuks”

  21. laurdy August 19, 2011 at 7:04 am

    when i try to view the license agreement it says “There was a problem reading this document (14).” and zooms to 6400% before crashing

  22. Polnwhat May 31, 2011 at 3:30 am

    LOL, I missed that part. It was nice of Adobe to at least leave open the possibility of damages if flash player kills you.

  23. Christina May 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    I found this blog post by googling ‘Adobe Flash License Agreement’ to see if anybody had found anything sketchy about it after having given up actually reading it myself (the last time it updated it would not actually let me download the agreement, so I figured I was off the hook. No such luck this time…)
    Actually before I googled I searched the document for terms such as ‘rape’, ‘murder’, ‘first born’, ‘right arm’ and anything else I could think of that I would rather not agree to. The only search that had a hit was for “death” which returned this statement:
    “Nothing contained in this agreement limits Adobe’s liability to you in the event of death or personal injury resulting from Adobe’s negligence or for the tort of deceit (fraud). Adobe is acting on behalf of its suppliers and Certification Authorities for the purpose of disclaiming, excluding and/or limiting
    obligations, warranties and liability as provided in this agreement, but in no other respects and for no
    other purpose”
    So if any of that facilitating access they do somehow kills you they are at least obligated to apologize?
    I am waiting for the update that checks its own box so you can skip this nonsense all together

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