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I have a application which will be available in 4 languages: French, German, Danish and English. All the text in the app will be translated, but should the EULA also be translated? What is the common way of handling this? The lawyer has accepted the english version of the EULA and I assume all the translated versions should also be accepted then. Is it okay just to use a English EULA?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com May 4 '11 at 22:23

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did you find any reasonable compromise somewhere in between 'IP rights do not exist' and 'get a lawyer to signproof each translation'? Of course, reasonable for your case. –  superjos Dec 14 '11 at 11:17

6 Answers 6

When i install a program from a big corporation it usually asks the language and then show the EULA in the chosen language. So yes.

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We are using different application in a large enterprise in Germany. The applications are never internationalized and so are the EULAs. At least here in Germany, it is not generally expected to have a "native" EULA provided.

The internationalization of such a complex agreement is quite tricky and may have at least unexpected results as many figures of speech can not be translated verbatim. You may have had the experience with manuals automatically translated from asiatic languages.

EDIT As Michael Borgwardt pointed out, translation is often the easy part. You would need an expert in international law to keep the EULA completely valid in all countries your software is distributed to.

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There's the added factor that many EULA clauses (often the entire EULA) are void under German law. –  Michael Borgwardt May 4 '11 at 7:47

This is not a software question, it's a legal question. Ask your lawyer.

Ultimately, it's about this: under which jurisdiction will any EULA violations fall? And does that jurisdiction treat foreign-language license agreements any different than native ones? Does it even recognize EULAs as binding at all? For example, under German law, any EULA that the user only gets to see after buying the product is void, so in Germany EULAs are basically legal masturbation. Even in the US, courts have found some EULAs invalid.

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@Michael Borgwardt: This is not a legal question. My focus is here if its "common" for applications to have translated EULA's and does a french user feel surprised if he see's a english EULA? It has nothing to do with the legal part - as you say, the lawyer takes care of that. So yes it is a software question. –  s0mmer May 4 '11 at 9:36
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@s0mmer: I suspect that a large (possibly majority) percentage of users wouldn't even notice what language the EULA they just clicked through was in. –  Michael Borgwardt May 4 '11 at 10:33
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Top answer. It's not a software question, it's intellectual property rights licensing question. Apart from the language that might be legally significant, the actual content might need to differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction or otherwise EULA might be invalidated. As an example in USA it's possible to prohibit any reverse engineering but reverse engineering is permitted under a specific set of circumstances by EU law. Setting terms that contradict local laws may void parts or whole of EULA. –  Vlad Gudim May 4 '11 at 22:41
    
@Totophil: It's not an intellectual property rights question, as there is no such thing as "intellectual property rights." Copyrights are monopoly rights and nothing else. To think of them as a property right is fallacious. In addition, reverse engineering in the US is legal, but criminalized only if the device being reversed is a Copyright management device. (There's more to it than even that, but this box is so small....) –  greyfade May 4 '11 at 23:25
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@SnOrfus: The problem is that so-called "IP law" is absolutely not property law. To call it property law is disingenuous at best. The concept of "intellectual property" was created to confuse everyone into thinking of it as a property right, when it has absolutely nothing to do with property at all. It's a monopoly right. No more, no less. I'm well aware of what "world leaders" say it is, but they're just as confused as the rest of us. Please read this book and this. (Goo.gl because this box is too small.) –  greyfade May 5 '11 at 15:43

(I am not a lawyer.)

You may provide additional translations if youw lawyer permits, but:

  • If your lawyer specifies that there is only one court of jurisdiction (the country where the lawsuit or dispute can be filed) then the language that is used for that jurisdiction would have to be marked as official, and the other translations have to be clearly marked as being provided for convenience only.

  • If two or more translations are to be treated as official (for different jurisdictions), you may need to specify that in case of discrepancies, one of the translation should take precedence over all the other translations.

The basic idea is that there can not be ambiguities in the EULA - i.e. if the two translations of the EULA say two different things.

Added

If you have the EULA translated into the French language and then you're selling your software in both France and Canada, for example - your lawyer will need to customize the French-language EULA so that certain sections which only apply to France or to Canada are clearly labeled. (You may also store the two country-specific EULAs as two copies.)

This assumes your lawyer can read the language natively without the help of back-translation. Otherwise, the translated version has to be proofread by law firms in those countries, and you'll need to spend money.

(Once again - I am not a lawyer. Just some thoughts. Others with more knowledge are welcome to chime in.)

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Time for a different approach!

The incomprehensible lawyer babble of license agreements just sucks. It is most ridiculous that often one is expected to "Accept" it, where it is clear as pikestaff that nobody who hasn't attended a year or two at a law school really knows what he is accepting, that being a reason that in some countries such "agreements" are null and void from the outset, and rightly so.

Therefore, instead of stealing valuable time of people, just leave displaying the EULA out. You can have a link somewhere in case someone really wants to see it. This also answers your question regarding the language. Write it down in Klingon, nobody even will notice.

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Not displaying it by default will probably leave the EULA null and void in every country. –  pyvi May 5 '11 at 8:36
    
So what? Can't we make software deals like with any other commodity? When did you last sign a End User Agreement at the filling station, saying that you agree to not use the gas you buy to commit illegal activities? –  Ingo May 5 '11 at 8:48

For Germany you don't need to translate the EULA - it will not become effective in this juristication.

(I'm not a lawyer)

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That's not true. EULAs (Endbenutzer-Lizenzverträge) are valid if they are valid under German law, and are shown to the customer and agreed to before purchasing a product. –  pyvi May 5 '11 at 9:04
    
@pyvi - This is nice "if they are valid under German law" - nobody - except perhaps the BVG - can tell that. 99.99% of users that are confronted with EULAs have not the slightest idea whether the 10+ pages are valid under German law. –  Ingo May 5 '11 at 10:56
    
@pyvi: Most EULA are shown after purchase on install –  Daenyth Feb 13 at 14:42

protected by World Engineer Feb 13 at 14:47

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