Score One for Benchmarks

New York court's decision may abolish unfair restrictions on disclosure of test results

Lately, court decisions havent been filling me with a whole lot of joy. From the Supreme Court saying that if Congress decides to extend copyright 100 years its still just for a limited time, to the recent federal decision that basically said ISPs must give record companies customer information for the flimsiest of reasons, there hasnt been much good news coming out of the legal arena.

However, one decision that came out this week finally made me smile. A New York court ruled that Network Associates couldnt prevent users and publications from releasing results of tests and benchmarks.

For years now software vendors have included in their EULAs (End User License Agreements) terms that forbid users from releasing results of benchmarks and tests, usually behind the lame excuse that they just wanted to make sure the tests were done properly.

As a large tech news publisher, weve generally been able to ignore these so-called terms, but they have had a chilling effect for smaller news sources and for hobbyist sites.

Typically, software EULAs have fared very poorly in courts, which tend not to see a one-way-only, click-through agreement as any kind of legal contract, and frown even more on the attempts to control how people use the products. In spite of this, many smaller players have caved in to pressure against releasing test results out of fear of a potential lawsuit.

Hopefully, the New York courts decision will encourage users to share the results and experiences theyve had with software products without the fear of lawsuits from fraidy-cat software vendors.

Have software EULAs limited how youve used or talked about a product? Let me know at