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.