The lawyers …

Lawyers force companies to write page after page of end-user license agreements (“clause xix: The said user hereby indemnifies ACME Widgets against any harm caused to his/her pregnancy by use of this spreadsheet”) and disclaimers (“ACME Widgets does not intend that this flight-planning software be used to plan an actual flight or for any other aviation-related or planning-related activities”). We live in a litigious society, so companies need to protect themselves from spurious lawsuits.

But is that true?

When I read blogs and other stuff written by lawyers, VCs, and other similar professionals, I’m usually struck by the lack of legal disclaimers — they don’t seem to worry so much when it’s their own necks on the line, or are satisfied with one very brief, casual-language disclaimer instead of pages of B.S.

That leads me to two questions:

  1. Do disclaimers and long EULAs actually work? Does the amount of legal text have any correlation (positive or negative) with the likelihood of being successfully sued?
  2. Is legal mumbo-jumbo something that lawyers push on companies, or something that paranoid company execs demand from their lawyers (maybe because everyone else has it)?

I’d be interested in pointers to any studies, etc.

About David Megginson

Scholar, tech guy, Canuck, open-source/data/information zealot, urban pedestrian, language geek, tea drinker, pater familias, red tory, amateur musician, private pilot.
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2 Responses to The lawyers …

  1. Hi,

    I think the reason for lawyers not putting up EULA etc. on what they say or write is that they don’t need to pay for a lawyer when their stuff got them into trouble. They just defend themselves (and if they’re real evil, they book the time they need to do so on some client }:-> ).

  2. david says:

    Andreas — In North America, the legal profession has a saying:

    “Any lawyer who defends himself has a fool for a client.”

    It’s a bit old, hence the gender-specific language.

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