Those of you who produce your own blogs or participated in the recent Do It Yourself Post Day At AllanShowalter.com exercise may appreciate the desire to protect your literary treasures from those copyright-breaking, file-sharing, counterfeiting, food-off-our-table-stealing pirates, thieves, scoundrels, and miscreants, who would rob not only us and our heirs of our rightful rewards but also, in doing so, deprive humanity of our products. But what struggling blogger can afford to pay a lawyer to produce the necessary legal structure?
You may be thinking, “Gee, I wonder if there is some way I could create a licensing agreement that would provide the same legal protections without the expense of an attorney?”
Well, if that’s what you were wondering, the answer is – Nope. Intellectual property law, it turns out, is an especially complex and difficult field, and writing legally valid and enforceable licensing agreements requires a sophisticated practitioner with extensive experience and training.
You may now be thinking, “Gee, given that intellectual property law is an especially complex and difficult field, and writing legally valid and enforceable licensing agreements requires a sophisticated practitioner with extensive experience and training, I wonder if there is some way I could create an official-looking licensing agreement that would be scary enough to intimidate a would-be plagiarist without the expense of an attorney, especially since I don’t give a hoot whether it’s actually legal or not?”
Well, it that’s what you were wondering, you’ve come to the right blog, because I’m not only the sort of hypervigilant guy who actually reads those EULAs and other licensing agreements put together by the good folks at Microsoft Corporation, the major pharmaceutical companies, the Walt Disney Corporation, and the Recording Industry Association of America, among others, but I’m also the kind of cheap, irony-appreciative kind of guy who appropriates such efforts for his own use. And, I’ve isolated some nifty phrases and methodologies to serve as a model for this Do It Yourself Online Product Protective Licensing Agreement.
First, the correct attitude is essential. Let’s go through an exercise:
Relax and breathe slowly, deeply, and gently. Visualize your blog being read and enjoyed by, well, just about everyone. Revel as your work lightens a heart here and there, brightens a stranger’s day, or just makes the world a little bit better place.
Now, quit wasting your time on that nonsense and recall why you write in the first place — money, power, and the love of beautiful [pick one or both choices] women/men.
Take a moment to re-read that last sentence carefully – do you see “altruism” or “warm inner glow” or [shudder] “sharing” in that list of motivations?
Well, do you, punk?
Oops, sorry. I forgot to whom I was writing – but that’s the mind-set we’re going for.
With the right attitude established, you can begin building the agreement itself. Just mix and match from the following annotated clauses, filling in the blanks with your name.
Remember – random and sporadic use of all caps, italics, bolding, typeface appearing in multiple colors (especially if they clash), an assortment of typefaces, and mixed font sizes can be confusing, disorienting, and vaguely upsetting and is thus encouraged in the final printout of the agreement.
Online Product Protective Licensing Template
HEY – THAT MEANS YOU, JACK3
Regardless, receipt of this message, the passive transmission of its image to your (“the Reader’s”) retina with or without further transmission to the centers of the brain controlling comprehension, or, failing either of those conditions, the simultaneous coexistence of this agreement and you in the same universe or in parallel universes4 constitutes your unconditional and irrevocable5 acceptance of this agreement with all terms, conditions, conclusions and opinions, whether expressed, inferred, or implied, as interpreted by ___________ (“the Author” or, should this agreement be breached, “Your Worst Nightmare”)6 without further elaboration.
If you do not agree to the terms of this License Agreement (an incredibly bizarre notion but one that is, the Author supposes, theoretically possible – if you are some kind of dolt, self-obsessed bimbo, or wussy-boy),7 you are to deliver to ___________ in person any and all written materials you have received and notarized transcripts of spoken content you have heard which were created or transmitted by ___________, any copies you have made of such materials, and an exhaustive inventory, in triplicate, of each of these items, including date of receipt, means of transmission, word-count (both before and after your use of the product), and the time, date, and audience of each subsequent use of the content or ideas derived thereof. The value of this usage will be calculated by the Author and a billing presented to you with payment due immediately.
Whether you accept or foolhardily reject this agreement, your response must, for purposes of identification, be accompanied by all four items listed in Category A and any three items from Category B.8
- Your signature on the enclosed forms granting Power of Attorney and assigning your life insurance benefits to ___________
- A list of your credit card and bank account numbers and authorization for ___________ And Family Mutual Support Guild to access those accounts
- The deed to your home signed over to The ___________ Benefit & Trust Association
- The title to your car signed over to The ___________ Transportation Foundation
NOTE: This information will be used only for the purposes of identification and to assure timely payments for reading ___________’s works. Any monies not needed will someday, somehow be returned to you in full value through the processes set forth in the Common Law principle of “What goes around, comes around,” albeit probably in the form of Karmic equivalents and not necessarily delivered by or from ___________.9
- The current home address, drivers license, passport, daily schedule, and medical records of that Hospital Administrator who tried to renege on the terms of ___________’s contract
- The fingerprint on your left thumb. (Unfortunately, there is a glitch in the biometric software of the fingerprint reader, but our technical staff has prepared a handy workaround. Instructions can be obtained by calling 888-555-8888. Prior to calling, please double-check the name of the piece you wish to read and prepare a box large enough hold a 2-day supply of dry ice and one thumb-sized object.)
- Five photos (grainy Polaroids preferred) in which your friends and neighbors can be identified performing illicit, illegal, and, optimally, titillating sexual acts.
- Four notarized affidavits attesting to your identity signed by unmarried, native-born US citizens, who graduated from a fully accredited Junior College located in cities other than Tulsa, Oklahoma and Tacoma, Washington, earn incomes in excess of $183,229 (include income tax returns for the most recent 3 years), and can explain the infield fly rule.
- Three French hens
- An original 250 page recitation of the ways in which your life has been enhanced by reading one or more of ___________’s pieces.
You hereby agree not to parody or criticize this work or the Author or to “compare and contrast” this work with any other work already written or which will be written at a future time. Small portions of text may be used, with prior written approval of the Author for laudatory reviews, either written or word of mouth, the final editorial form and content of which is the prerogative of ___________. Any other use of any ideas, data, or information contained, referenced, or attached herein is strictly prohibited and will be subject to collection of financial damages, imprisonment for not less than one and not more than 99 years, and the infliction of 5-20 bitch slaps, the administration of which will be accompanied by ridicule and insults delivered by a member in good standing of the Longshoreman’s Union and witnessed by your closest friends and all first-degree relatives.
This License Agreement became effective as of the date nine months prior to the Author’s birth and in perpetuity10 for the complete work by ___________ in its entirety or any portion thereof; whether produced individually or as a portion of a collection of such works. In addition, this License Agreement includes but is assuredly not limited to the following elements of this work:
Any and all phrases; clauses; sentences; paragraphs; words (including the words as published, any recognized alternative spellings, and any common misspellings); individual letters; spaces preceding, following, and following said letters; lines preceding, following and between paragraphs and other divisions of the works; images; introductions; salutations; post-scripts; frameworks; styles used and their variations; allusions implied or inferred ; and fonts as well as the styles and effects thereof, including subscripts, superscripts, symbols, color, size, bold, italics, underlines, and similar qualities as used herein.
Such use will constitute a violation of the Author’s COPYRIGHT, TRADEMARK, TRADE SECRETS, PATENTS, and lots of other rights you never heard of and don’t even want to think about because the Author’s lawyer can beat the snot out of your lawyer.11
This License Agreement is valid whether the work referenced is viewed on screen; printed on any medium; stored on disk, optical device, or in Read Only Memory; or conveyed by wireless technology, smoke signals, mental telepathy, sign language, spoken words, or any other media or in any other form. In addition, this License Agreement covers any literary efforts by any other authors who derived their phrasing, style, or ideas from ___________, could have derived their phrasing, style, or ideas from ___________, or should have derived their phrasing, style, or ideas from ___________. Finally, this License Agreement specifically and irrevocably attaches to any concepts, ideas, hopes, tears, fears, and dreams generated or recalled by any individual or group of individuals while reading or for a six year period following the reading of the works of ___________, regardless of whether a direct link between those mental constructs and ___________ works can be demonstrated.
These works are offered strictly “as is.” No warranty or representation is created regarding the readability, accuracy, humor, educational utility, or entertainment value of this work. The Author does not warrant, promise, represent, or guarantee that or even care all that much if this work will amuse or enlighten you. The Reader reads at his or her own risk, acknowledging reading is an inherently dangerous activity for which the Author has no responsibility. Specifically, the Author is not responsible for errors, miscalculations, inaccuracies, inconsistent use of first and third person point of view, subject-verb agreement, bad taste, vulgarity, lewd and lascivious thoughts, internal consistency, or failed attempts at humor that may or may not be in this work. The Author is not responsible, especially in any legalistic, pay-someone-else-money sense, for written material or ideas ideas
PLAGIARIZED FROM BORROWED FROM ENHANCED BY inspired by the works of others regardless of coincidental and superficial similarities ranging to and including absolute congruence of consecutive pages of material. The Author is also not responsible for misogynistic concepts embedded in Freudian psychotherapy, the World Bank’s blundering management of third world country’s finances, the allegedly monopolistic practices allegedly perpetrated by the alleged Bill Gates, or Jerry Reinsdorf’s management of the Chicago Bulls since Jordan left.
The rights to these works are licensed, not sold, for use only under the terms of this License, and can be reproduced or rebroadcast only with the express written consent of Major League Baseball. Otherwise, ___________ reserves all rights not expressly granted to the reader and certain unspecified rights the reader may erroneously believe were expressly granted to him or her. These several and various rights granted under this License Agreement are limited to intellectual property rights and do not include any patents issued prior to 1926 pertaining to the manufacture of agricultural machinery.
Booogety Boogety Boogety. Yeah, you read that right – or you would have if anyone ever read these things this far.12 Now that we’ve weaned out the wimps, we can get down to the good stuff. For example, violators of this agreement must French kiss a salamander (a newt may be substituted if no salamanders are immediately available) and, every day at 2:38 PM, sing all the verses of the popular maritime ditty, “Barnacle Bill The Sailor,” at full volume with a mock Swedish accent while hopping on one leg and flapping both arms.
The opinions expressed herein are the Author’s. They also represent the opinions of absolutely everyone with a lick of sense. Moreover, the opinions expressed herein are yours. You cannot imagine why you ever felt otherwise.
THIS AGREEMENT SHALL BE GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF THE AUTHOR’S CHOOSING, THE LOCAL STATUTES OF __________’s HOMETOWN, OR, AT THE AUTHOR’S DISCRETION, THE LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE AS PERSONALLY REVEALED TO THE AUTHOR BY VARIOUS AND DIVERS DEITIES. ALL LAWSUITS BROUGHT UNDER THIS AGREEMENT MUST BE FILED AND ADJUDICATED IN THE STATE OF CHAOS, UNLESS THE AUTHOR IN HIS SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE DETERMINATION DETERMINES THAT THE READER AND AUTHOR ARE TO BE SUBJECT TO MANDATORY ARBITRATION. IN THE CASE OF MANDATORY ARBITRATION, THE ARBITRATOR SHALL BE SELECTED FROM THE AUTHOR’S LIST OF ___________-CERTIFIED ARBITRATORS OR, AT ___________’S SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE DISCRETION, ___________ WILL SERVE AS ARBITRATOR WITH ALL COSTS OF ARBITRATION BORNE BY THE READER.
No animals were harmed in the production of this License Agreement, although there was that one close call when the dancing hamsters and the Viking kitties got into a spat.
An 18% gratuity will be added for parties of 8 or more. You must be this tall to read this. Package sold by weight, not volume. This product is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. If ingested, do not induce vomiting, and if symptoms persist or an erection lasts longer than eights hours, consult a physician. Void where prohibited. Batteries not included. Contents may settle during shipment. Articles are ribbed for your pleasure. Terms are subject to change without notice. Do not use while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. Formatted to fit your screen. Substantial penalty for early withdrawal. Do not write below this line. Dealer participation may affect final price. Your mileage may vary. No shirt, no shoes, no service. No smoking. No food or drink. Do not enter the water for two hours after reading. Objects may be closer than they appear. Limit one per family. For external use only. If rash, irritation, redness, or swelling develops, discontinue use. No salt, MSG, artificial color or flavoring added.
Warranty does not cover damage from the following:
Normal wear and tear, abnormal wear and tear, misuse, abuse, loose caboose, pumas, extraterrestrial intervention, extramarital affairs, caustic chemicals, caustic comments, forest fires which only you can prevent, ennui, random sociopathic behavior, random acts of kindness, Random House Publishing, electromagnetic shock pulses from nuclear blasts, x-ray or microwave emissions, nocturnal emissions, sins of omission, intermissions, falling rocks, stocks, or socks, blue ice falling from aircraft, falling anything, falling on anything, falling for the wrong guy, falling from Grace, falling from Gracie, falling off the wagon, falling between the cracks, fallen angels, fallen women, acts of terrorism, acts of war, Acts of the Apostles, Acts I, II, or III, and Acts of God, including lightning, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, solar flares, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, supernovas, subnovas, bossa novas, and Chevy Novas.
Other restrictions may apply.
Note: Originally posted May 24, 2006 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com
- Note the use of “PLEASE” in the same sense as in “Please don’t make me kill you.” [↩]
- Eliminate all loopholes [↩]
- Insisting on the reader’s attention helps establish that vital connection with you [↩]
- Thoroughness is essential [↩]
- Notice how phrases like “unconditional and irrevocable” make one feel all tingly inside [↩]
- Threats are never out of place [↩]
- Make options available [↩]
- Bureaucratic hassles are second only to physical threats in effectively dissuading would-be plagiarists. [↩]
- Reassuring the reader of your benign intent with obvious lies creates an enjoyably disrupting cognitive dissonance. [↩]
- Terms like “in perpetuity” enhance the aura of pseudo-legality of the agreement and sound pretty darn cool [↩]
- Frequent allusions to lawyers and the legal systems often have a salutary effect and can be powerful factors in dissuading the potential plagiarist. [↩]
- After enough verbiage, feel free to throw in any old stuff you want; no one will read it until it’s far too late [↩]