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The Agreeable Cat

by Anne Loucks

How often have you been presented with unplesant click-through license agreements like this one from the Adobe website:

downloading

It is disturbingly common for people to click right on through such barriers without even looking at the agreement. I totally understand this attitude. Reading the EULA is generally a waste of time. “Blah blah blah... bequeathment of firstborn... Blah Blah Blah... eternal soul...“ and so on.

Of course, I have created a wonderful solution to this problem. My cat, Simba, agrees instead of me. As he is not a legal entity, I don't really know how kitty's agreements would stand up in court, but I like to think he would be responsible for any breaches of contract, assuming the agreement is even enforceable. After all, he is not even of legal age, at least in human years.

front back

First, we must create a way for Simba to push the button. I created a cardboard platform with a long thin protrusion for pressing the spacebar, which is sufficient to activate most onscreen buttons after you TAB to place the focus on them.

Setup shot

Next, I carefully place it over the keyboard of my computer.

Luring the cat

Finally, I lure Simba over the cardboard platform with the promise of petting.

Success!!!

Success!! He presses the button of his own free will. Admittedly, he was coerced and rewarded, but really, nobody forced my cat to step on the button and become party to a software license agreement. At the very least, we know he was not under duress.

downloading

The download begins and I have personally agreed to nothing.

This same strategy could be used with small dogs, children (preferably the neighbors'), or even a carefully crafted button presser that moves up and down as the wind sways a tree outside your window. Mother nature is responsible for the license agreement! I swear!

Who knows how well this might hold up in court, and who cares? EULAs are something of a joke to begin with, as they have no physical signature. Still, if you are worried about legal safety, maybe your cat will be as agreeable as mine.

Also, Boing Boing and Slashdot have picked up this essay, if you want to see what other folks have to say about it.

Here is the opinion of an actual lawyer.

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