MS FrontPage Restricts Free Speech II (It's True!)
Several readers have told me their EULA for FrontPage 2002 does not contain the no-disparaging-MS term, or that the term only applies to the FrontPage logo or to the Web components like the MSNBC news headline component. Just to be sure, this afternoon I went down to the store and bought a copy of FrontPage 2002 myself. In the box was the "Microsoft Frontpage 2002" license on a four-page folded sheet, titled "End- User License Agreement For Microsoft Software." Under Section #1, Grant of License, the second paragraph headed "Restrictions" states in part: "You may not use the Software in connection with any site that disparages Microsoft, MSN, MSNBC, Expedia, or their products or services, infringe any intellectual property or other rights of these parties, violate any state, federal or international law, or promote racism, hatred or pornography." (Not only a stunning example of legal overreaching, in my opinion, but very poor grammar as well.) It appears to me to clearly apply to use of the program as a whole and not just the logo or Web components. I suspect that there are different versions of the EULA of FrontPage 2002. Perhaps the license was updated for the most recent SKU, or versions obtained through different channels don't yet have it. I'm going to try to get Microsoft to clarify where this EULA does and doesn't appear, but I'm not sure they will be very anxious to provide me with that information.
This appeared on Slashdot yesterday, but I was waiting for confirmation; it smelled like a misunderstanding. However, it seems to have been true.
Many people on Slashdot decried the apparently-illegal nature of this restriction. But, I think a liberal reading of the nearly-forgotten UCITA, which as you may recall is essentially in effect in some states, means that this is perfectly legal in those states. It's a little liberal because I'm extending the review-banning clause, but it definately has the spirit of the law.
Now, I'm not claiming it's constitutional, because it probably isn't. But in UCITA states, it's probably legally binding, i.e., it would take a protracted lawsuit to get out of this.