Patrick “P. J.” McDermott

Software and hardware hacker and advocate for software and cultural freedom.

Legal Validity of Software Contracts

This is a presentation that I gave in a law-related course at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in the Spring of 2012.

In the presentation, I define software contracts (a.k.a. "end-user license agreements", "software license agreements", or simply "licenses") and explain the history of software copyright law and contracts. I then examine the disputed legal validity of software contracts in three main areas: assent to terms (including "shrink wrap" and "click wrap" contracts), ownership of copies (the "licensed, not sold" argument), and conscionability and preemption.

The presentation refers to statutory and case law in the United States, but the concepts should apply to almost any jurisdiction.


The following are the slides I prepared for the presentation:

Included in the OpenDocument version is the script to the presentation (in LibreOffice, look in the "Notes" tab).

Many reader programs render stripes in the slide background of the PDF file. This is due to a bug in cairo which has been fixed in a version newer than that which I used.


Copyright © 2012 Patrick “P. J.” McDermott

All works related to this workshop, including this document, the flyer, the notes, and the session records may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.