Standardizing Application End User Licenses

If you have installed an application lately chances are that one of the first screens you have run into is an End User License Agreement (EULA). While it may not be as gargantuan as say the iTunes one, most people don’t bother reading it, and just click on the accept. This numbness to the EULA screen has been bothering me lately. Even though I do it, I have very little idea about what I am agreeing to. I make an assumption that its fair hoping that if it goes beyond what it needs to, I would have heard about that on the internet.

As an app developer, I also worry from the other side of the fence. I want users to know exactly what they are getting and only use my apps if they are comfortable with sharing information with my apps. Additionally I am not a lawyer and I don’t really want to make my own EULA. My apps usually do things very similar to other apps and I just want my users to know that.

Whats interesting is that there is another domain developers work in that licensing comes across often: using third party libraries. However there isn’t that much confusion there anymore. There are a handful of popular licenses out there: The MIT license, the Apache license and GPL are the ones that I run into most often and I am careful to only use the appropriate licensed libraries in my software. However no such named licenses seemed to be shared across multiple end user products today.

I would love to see a few standard licenses appear that encompass certain rights and privileges. For example, an Apache Standard App License that will not hold any user data but the developer is not responsible for damages to the device or injury to user while using the app, or an Apache Social App License that says it will store my friends data and photos for a certain period of time. These would also be great as guidelines for independent developers as well on how they should hold and use end user data.


Author: Arpit Mathur

Arpit Mathur is a Principal Engineer at Comcast Labs where he is currently working on a variety of topics including Machine Learning, Affective Computing, and Blockchain applications. Arpit has also worked extensively on Android and iOS applications, Virtual Reality apps as well as with web technologies like JavaScript, HTML and Ruby on Rails. He also spent a couple of years in the User Experience team as a Creative Technologist.

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