April 20, 2004


An article in WinXPNews got me thinking. Boxed software retailers generally do not take back opened software. It makes piracy too easy. On the other hand, EULAs often are unreadable until the software is opened as they solely exist as electronic documents. If you do not agree with the terms, the sole remedy is to return for a refund, not from the manufacturer, but from the retailer you bought it from.

Software manufacturers have the right to control the behavior of their distribution chains. They contract with companies and impose various conditions on their sellers. The fact that they permit their resellers to eviscerate the right of return makes the whole prospect suspect. When you throw in anti-trust law, things get even worse because a monopoly both has greater influence with its resellers and has greater obligations under the law. Microsoft would seem to have the most issues here but IBM might too since it has an old monopoly suit in its past as well.

Anti-trust, ultimately, is bunk, but only so long as we have prosecutors who are willing to actually prosecute the more prosaic forms of theft that monopolies can get away with so easily. This willingness to prosecute has not proven to be the case in reality so we're stuck with anti-trust law for now.

Posted by TMLutas at April 20, 2004 08:37 AM