My friend Saul (not his real name) is a pretty capable computer user on both Windows and Macs, but not a fan of television or pop culture.
Saul recently decided to try out Mozy, an online backup service that I’ve used and liked. He noticed something weird in the EULA, though, and decided to email Mozy’s creators (Berkeley Data Systems) about it. He wrote to BDS:
Hi – I just thought that the highlighted passages in this segment of the Mac OSX beta version’s software license agreement might be of interest to you. FYI – I downloaded this yesterday.
“WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING, THE TOTAL AGGREGATE LIABILITY OF BERKELEY DATA SYSTEMS AND ITS SUPPLIERS ARISING FROM OR RELATED TO THIS AGREEMENT SHALL NOT EXCEED THE AMOUNT, IF ANY, PAID BY YOU TO BERKELEY DATA SYSTEMS FOR THE SOFTWARE OR SERVICES. FURTHERMORE, YOU AGREE TO USE THE SOFTWARE OR SERVICE EXCLUSIVELY FOR GOOD AND FOR AWESOME. IF THE SOFTWARE AND SERVICES ARE PROVIDED WITHOUT CHARGE, THEN BERKELEY DATA SYSTEMS AND ITS SUPPLIERS SHALL HAVE NO LIABILITY TO YOU WHATSOEVER.
THE FOREGOING LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY SHALL APPLY WHETHER THE DAMAGES ARISE FROM USE OR MISUSE OF AND RELIANCE ON THE SOFTWARE OR SERVICE, FROM INABILITY TO USE THE SOFTWARE OR SERVICE, OR FROM THE INTERRUPTION, SUSPENSION, OR TERMINATION OF THE SOFTWARE OR SERVICE (INCLUDING SUCH DAMAGES INCURRED BY THIRD PARTIES). DO NOT TAUNT HAPPY FUN BALL. SUCH LIMITATION SHALL APPLY NOTWITHSTANDING A FAILURE OF ESSENTIAL PURPOSE OF ANY LIMITED REMEDY AND TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.”
Saul didn’t get the joke because he’s not an early 90s SNL fan. “Happy Fun Ball” is a reference to a Saturday Night Live parody advertisement in which a product with a bouncy, cheerful name comes with dire, absurd warnings. It is meant to mock consumer safety warnings, EULAs, and our litigious society. You can watch video of the sketch here.
It’s a fun thing to throw into the license agreement. It is clever and pleasantly silly. It made me chuckle.
But rather than simply explaining the joke to Saul, president and founder Josh Coates wrote:
[saul], thanks for asking.
i’m not an attorney, but here’s my take on things:
the way i read it, it simply means that you are not to taunt (which means to tease or make fun of) happy fun ball. it’s against the end user license agreement. if you do so, you will be in violation of the agreement.
as far as the “for good and for awesome” reference goes, i believe this statement simply means that the user agrees to use the software of good and for awesome, where good means something that conforms to the moral order of the universe, or something that advances prosperity or well-being and awesome means something that inspires awe. in other words, the user agrees to use the software for both good and awesome purposes.
hope that clarifies things for you.
Mozy.com, Berkeley Data Systems, Inc.
A user who cares enough to take the time to write to the creators is the sort of user who will show the product to his friends. He’s the kind of user who, receiving positive response from the creators, will find his enthusiasm for the product enhanced.
Sending Saul the “ha-ha-you’re-not-savvy-to-my-pop-culture-smartassery” email isn’t just unprofessional and rude. It’s remarkably stupid.
Let this please be a lesson to anyone who receives communiques from end users. This is opposite of how to behave.