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Should I pay attention to license agreements when installing software?
A software license agreement primarily serves to inform the user of the terms and conditions of the licensor. This governs the use of the software and make no mistake, it constitutes a binding and enforceable agreement once you click on the “Agree” button. Most people do not pay much attention to the license agreement when installing a software.
There are important terms that impose legal liability on the user. A common clause included expressly protects the licensor’s copyright and intellectual property rights over the software in question and its use, which is intended to counter any unauthorised copying, sale and use of the software by the user – said actions usually result in some form of loss for the licensor.
The consequences of a breach of this clause can be quite extensive. Reports of “on-street” and online software pirates being arrested and prosecuted are not uncommon, while civil claims by the licensor (as copyright holder) against such software pirates or software misuse can result in statutory damages of up to $200,000!
Another common clause limits the liability of the licensor in respect of any losses or damage suffered by the user as a result of using the software. Usually, the licensor cannot be held liable for any loss you suffer because their software failed.
The bottomline: License agreements protect the licensor completely and limit their exposure to liability while having the reverse effect on you. Not exactly fair, and this should make you think twice before purchasing their software.