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I’m a bit technical in my reasoning here but I hope that will be okay.

What other approaches are there for displaying the EULA? Are there any who actually offer a non-disruptive prompt? Is there even such a thing? How can this painful legal detail be made a good non-annoying experience?

The typical way of prompting Mac users to accept an end-user license agreement (EULA) is to prompt the user in a window during the mounting of the typical disk image distribution file (download.app). The drawback of this built-in method for getting user consent to a EULA is that it halts the slowest part of the installation process (mounting a disk image). The user is presented the EUAL in a window that can be scrolled and then has to press Agree before the disk image starts its slow mounting process and the user has to wait.

I have seen some software take a different approach where they include a LICENSE.txt file on the disk image. This way, they do not get explicit consent and I am not sure whether it is legally binding (in those regions where EULAs are even acceptable legal practice, of course.)

Other software require the user to agree to the EULA on their Web site before allowing the disk image to be downloaded in the first place. Which is fine if the only distribution channel is your own Web site.

Still others I have seen prompt the user on the first start-up with a dialog very similar to the system provided one uses in the disk image mounting process.

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You could use an installation package rather than drag-and-drop, which provides the ability to show terms and conditions as one of the first steps the user performs. Is there a reason that can't work for you? –  Kit Grose May 14 '13 at 7:30

1 Answer 1

This really is a legal issue as much as it is a UX one.

Explicit consent / agreement is the only type that holds up in court. Putting the license in a text document and stating something like "by installing this software you are agreeing to the license" without the user having to explicitly accept it or check a box stating that they have accepted it, simply is not enforceable in court.

I'll skip the reasons why not, as that is outside of the scope of what is needed here.

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Does showing that a checkbox was checked make the agreement "enforceable in court"? –  Bennett McElwee Nov 27 '12 at 20:36
    
Physical products use implicit acceptance all the time: "By opening this package you agree to the enclosed terms and conditions...". Does the mere fact that a checkbox was checked really make the agreement "enforceable in court"? My understanding (based, I admit, on nothing but my own extensive yet fallible intellect and experience) is that the vendor needs to make a conscientious effort to get the user to understand that they are agreeing to the T&C. Whether they are enforceable then depends on many things including how reasonable they are. –  Bennett McElwee Nov 27 '12 at 20:42
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@BennettMcElwee I'd love to see a case of an implicit agreement that held up in court. Many companies use them, but they also fail when challenged. Take a recent case with Zappos, where their user agreement was ruled unenforceable largely because it was implicit and therefore does not meet the requirements of a legal agreement. –  JohnGB Nov 27 '12 at 23:31
    
Yes, it sounds plausible that implicit agreements aren't worth much. So I still wonder whether explicit agreements are automatically enforceable. As I say, I suspect they aren't, though they are probably more defensible than implicit agreements. –  Bennett McElwee Nov 28 '12 at 21:00

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