EULA Versus Terms and Conditions

EULA Versus Terms and Conditions

Whether you're a software developer, a service provider or an ecommerce company, practically every business requires a set of legal agreements with its users.

Two of the most common types of agreements are the End User License Agreement (EULA) and the Terms and Conditions agreement (T&C).

Confused about which one you need? Want to know how to create a valid EULA or a Terms and Conditions agreement? In this article, we're going to explain the main features of both types of agreements.


Differences Between EULA and Terms and Conditions

Differences Between EULA and Terms and Conditions

What's an EULA?

An End User License Agreement (EULA) (sometimes known as a "software license") is an agreement between the developer or publisher of a software product and the user of that software.

By agreeing to an EULA, a user is granted certain rights over the software. The user also accepts certain responsibilities, and they may also accept legal liability in the event that they cause the developer a loss.

What are Terms and Conditions?

A Terms and Conditions agreement (sometimes known as "Terms of Service" or "Terms of Use") is an agreement between a service provider and the user of that service.

Again, upon agreeing to a Terms and Conditions, the user is granted the right to use or receive the service, and they accept certain responsibilities and liabilities for using it.

Should I Create an EULA or Terms and Conditions?

Here's how to decide whether you should be creating an EULA or a Terms and Conditions:

  • Use an EULA if you're distributing a piece of software. You own the copyright to the software but you want to grant a license to any user who has bought a copy so that they can install the software on their device.
  • Use a Terms and Conditions agreement if you're providing a service, such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), a website, or an online store. You provide a service and you want people to use it, but you also want to set some rules about how they use it.

EULA: Frequently Asked Questions

EULA FAQ

There's no law requiring software developers to provide an EULA. However, failing to do so can create all sorts of legal problems.

Essentially, creating an EULA ensures you are allowing your user to install a copy of your product, rather than actually selling them the right to own and distribute your product.

What are the Benefits of Creating an EULA?

In addition to the legal benefit described above, an EULA:

  • Sets clear expectations on your user
  • Establishes the responsibilities of your company
  • Can allow you to revoke a user's license if required

Is an EULA a Contract?

Yes, an EULA can be a contract between you and your user.

If it's clear, fair, and has been accepted by your user, an EULA will be enforced by the courts.

Terms and Conditions: Frequently Asked Questions

Terms and Conditions FAQ

No, there's no legal requirement to create a Terms and Conditions agreement. However, it's an essential document for any business that offers goods or services.

What are the Benefits of Creating Terms and Conditions?

Creating a clear and robust Terms and Conditions agreement brings many benefits:

  • It can help you avoid legal trouble and defend your business against legal claims
  • It sets clear rules for your users
  • It explains what your users can expect from your business

Is a Terms and Conditions Agreement a Contract?

Just like an EULA, a Terms and Conditions agreement can be a legally binding contract.

If it's clear, fair, and has been accepted by your user, a Terms and Conditions agreement will be enforced by the courts.

Clauses Appearing in Both Types of Agreement

Clauses Appearing in Both Types of Agreement

First, we'll look at some of the clauses that commonly appear in both EULAs and Terms and Conditions agreements, with examples from both types of agreement.

Other Agreements

If your business has other agreements, such as a Privacy Policy, Terms of Use agreement, or Returns and Refunds Policy, you can make reference to these in your EULA or Terms and Conditions.

In some cases, this section serves to give another agreement precedence over the EULA or Terms and Conditions. Here's an example from Blackbird's EULA:

Blackbird EULA: Other Agreements clause

The clause means that any special agreement with a corporate licensee will take precedence over Blackbird's EULA if the two agreements contradict one another.

Terms and Conditions agreements often incorporate other agreements, meaning that acceptance of the Terms and Conditions also constitutes acceptance of other agreements.

Here's an example from PayPal:

PayPal Seller Account Agreement: Incorporated agreements section

Disclaimer of Warranties

In most countries, "implied warranties" cover the sale of goods and services.

Think of implied warranties as automatic guarantees as to the quality of your goods or services. Under certain conditions, it may be possible to avoid making these guarantees using your EULA or Terms and Conditions.

There are two main examples of implied warranties in the United States:

  • Merchantability: Consumers can normally assume that goods purchased from professional retailers are of average or better quality, correctly labeled, etc.
  • Fitness for a particular purpose: Consumers purchasing goods from specialist sellers can expect those goods to be fit for the purpose for which they are sold.

Under the Uniform Commercial Code ยง 2-316 (available here) you may be able to disclaim these implied warranties if you use specific language (for example, "Goods are sold with all faults"), and make your disclaimers conspicuous (many companies use uppercase letters for this section).

This does not excuse you from providing goods or services of a reasonable quality. But it may give you some leeway in disputes with your customers.

Note that laws on disclaimers vary from place to place, and even between U.S. states. This is why most companies state that they are disclaiming the implied warranties "to the maximum extent permitted by law."

Here's an example of a disclaimer of warranties from Versasec's EULA:

Versasec EULA: Disclaimer of Warranties and Duties clause

Limitation of Liability

For one reason or another, using your product, service, or even your website might result in a "loss" for the user.

This is why most EULAs and Terms and Conditions agreements contain a "limitation of liability clause." If a user takes you to court, this clause puts a limit on the amount of damages you'll have to pay.

A limitation of liability clause is an alternative to an "exclusion of liability" clause. This type of clause attempts to limit the amount of damages a company will pay to zero. Exclusion of liability clauses are increasingly uncommon as they can be seen by the courts as unfair.

Limitation of liability clauses often use similar wording.

Here's an example from Nest's EULA:

Nest EULA: Limitation of Liability clause

Again, note the phrase "to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law."

Many countries have national laws that set rules about limitation of liability clauses. In the UK, for example, the courts won't recognize limits to liability for injury or death caused by negligence.

Another important point in Nest's limitation of liability clause is the statement that Nest will not be liable for "consequential, exemplary, special, or incidental damages." This means that Nest won't pay for losses that result indirectly from any potential mistake.

Finally, note the sentence stating that "Nest Labs' total cumulative liability [will not] exceed the fees actually paid by you to Nest."

Here's an example of a limitation of liability clause from NFU Mutual's Terms and Conditions:

NFU Mutual Terms and Conditions: Limitation of Liability

Note that NFU Mutual's Terms and Conditions govern the use of its website. This clause actually attempts to exclude the company's liability altogether, except for under the limited circumstances listed at the end of the paragraph.

Governing Law

If a dispute occurs between your company and one of your users, it could end up in court. The user won't necessarily live wherever your company is based, so it might not be obvious where the case should be heard.

As the person drafting your EULA or Terms and Conditions agreement, you get to choose the jurisdiction in which such cases will be heard. Generally speaking, it's better to choose the jurisdiction in which your company is based.

Here's an example from HERE's EULA:

HERE EULA: Governing Law clause

And here's an example from the Terms and Conditions of Smoothwall:

Smoothwall Terms and Conditions: Governing Law clause

Note that Smoothwall states that its Terms and Conditions are "governed by and construed in accordance with law of England." This is because certain principles and terminology are interpreted differently in different places.

EULA Clauses

EULA Clauses

The following clauses are usually contained in an EULA, but not a Terms and Conditions agreement. If you're creating a Terms and Conditions agreement, click here to skip ahead.

Grant of License

Most EULAs begin with a section that grants the user a license to use the product.

Here's an example from Lasa:

Lasa EULA: Grant of Licence clause

Note that this EULA grants users the right to use, make copies of, and distribute the software. This is more extensive than the "grant of license" clause found in many EULAs, which simply grants users the right to use the software.

Description of Other Rights and Limitations

Along with granting the user a license to use the software, most EULAs also contain a description of the user's other rights and limitations.

Here's an example from Structure Sensor:

Structure Sensor EULA: Description of Other Rights and Limitations clause

This clause sets out some common license limitations, including that:

  • The user may not modify or decompile the software
  • The user may not install the software in parts across multiple computers
  • The user may not transfer the software to another person

Termination of License

An EULA will normally set out the conditions under which the license might be terminated by the business, and sometimes by the user.

Here's an example from Goodwall:

Goodwall EULA: Termination of Licence clause

By incorporating these clauses into your EULA, you'll have most of the important areas covered.

How to Create an EULA for Your Website

Our EULA Generator makes it easy to create an EULA. Just follow these steps:

  1. Click on the "EULA Generator" button.
  2. At Step 1, select the Desktop app option and click "Next step":
  3. TermsFeed EULA Generator: Create EULA for your App - Step 1

  4. Answer the questions related to your desktop app and then click "Next step":
  5. TermsFeed EULA Generator: Answer questions about your app - Step 2

  6. Answer the questions about your business practices and click "Next step" when finished:
  7. TermsFeed EULA Generator: Answer questions about business practices - Step 3

  8. Enter your email address where you'd like your EULA sent and click "Generate."

    TermsFeed EULA Generator: Enter your email address - Step 4

    You'll be able to instantly access and download your new EULA.


Terms and Conditions Clauses

Terms and Conditions Clauses

Now we're going to take a look at some clauses that are commonly found in a Terms and Conditions agreement, but that might be less relevant to an EULA.

Acceptance of Terms

In some cases, it's easy to obtain acceptance of your Terms and Conditions, for example if the user has to create an account or place an order in order to use your services.

In other circumstances, such as where a Terms and Conditions agreement covers the use of a website or web app, it might not always be possible to obtain the user's explicit acceptance.

In such circumstances, a Terms and Conditions agreement might contain a clause stating that the user has accepted the agreement by taking a certain action. For example, "using the services," or "browsing the website." This is known as a browsewrap clause.

Here's an example from Fonehouse:

Fonehouse Terms and Conditions: Browsewrap Agreement clause

Note that this method of obtaining acceptance is unlikely to be enforced by a court. However, it might be helpful if you ever need to hold one of your users to your Terms and Conditions.

Payments and Billing

If you charge a fee for your services, it's important to set out the terms of payment in your Terms and Conditions.

Here's an example from Secure Fast Hosting:

Secure Fast Hosting Terms of Service: Payments and Billing clause

You can see how this clause might be helpful to Secure Fast Hosting if a dispute arises with a customer. It sets out:

  • The date on which customers will be billed
  • The length of billing terms
  • The conditions of payment

Account Suspension/Termination

Your Terms and Conditions should grant you the right to suspend or terminate your users' accounts. You should also set out the reasons for which you may need to do this.

Here's an example from Solve For Why TV:

Solve For Why TV Terms and Conditions: Account Suspension and Deletion clause

Note that these terms specify that a user will still be liable for fees if they have caused the suspension of their account.

How to Create a Terms and Conditions for Your Website

Our Terms and Conditions Generator makes it easy to create a Terms and Conditions agreement for your business. Just follow these steps:

  1. Click on the "Terms and Conditions Generator" button.
  2. At Step 1, select the Website option and click "Next step":
  3. TermsFeed Terms and Conditions Generator: Create Terms and Conditions - Step 1

  4. Answer the questions about your website and click "Next step" when finished:
  5. TermsFeed Terms and Conditions Generator: Answer questions about website - Step 2

  6. Answer the questions about your business practices and click "Next step" when finished:
  7. TermsFeed Terms and Conditions Generator: Answer questions about business practices - Step 3

  8. Enter your email address where you'd like your agreement sent and click "Generate."

    TermsFeed Terms and Conditions Generator: Enter your email address - Step 4

    You'll be able to instantly access and download your new agreement.


Ensuring Your EULA or Terms and Conditions Agreement is Enforceable

Ensuring Your EULA or Terms and Conditions Agreement is Enforceable

Remember that your EULA or Terms and Conditions agreement can be a legally-binding agreement that will be enforced by the courts: if it's clear that your user has agreed to it.

This means that you should take all reasonable steps to ensure that you obtain your users' acceptance of your agreement. There are several ways of doing this.

EULA

It's relatively easy to obtain acceptance of an EULA.

For physical copies of software products, publishers would typically include a copy of the EULA within the shrinkwrap cover of the box. Opening the shrinkwrap was supposed to constitute acceptance of the EULA.

If you distribute your software product digitally, there's an even easier way to obtain acceptance of your EULA: not "shrinkwrap," but "clickwrap."

A clickwrap agreement asks the user to check a box or click a button in order to accept the terms of the agreement. You can present this option to users when they're installing your app or software product. If they don't accept the EULA, they must not install the software.

Here's an example from Opera:

Opera installation screen: Clickwrap agreement highlighted

You should also ensure your EULA is accessible to your users within the software itself.

Here's an example from Opera's mobile app. The EULA is accessible within the "About Opera" page of the app's "Settings" menu:

Opera app About menu with EULA highlighted

It's crucial to make sure your users accept your EULA, and it should be relatively straightforward to do so.

Terms and Conditions

You should have several opportunities to obtain acceptance of your Terms and Conditions agreement.

For example, you can obtain acceptance of your Terms and Conditions when your user creates an account with your service.

Here's how Asana does this:

Asana sign-up screen with Agree to Terms of Service highlighted

You can also ask customers to accept your Terms and Conditions when making a purchase.

Here's an example from H&M:

H and M checkout screen with Accept Terms and Conditions highlighted

It's more difficult to obtain acceptance where your Terms and Conditions govern the use of a website, as we've seen in the Acceptance of Terms section above.

Summary

Both an EULA and a Terms and Conditions agreement govern the use of a product or service. If they are fair, clear, and have been accepted by your users, these agreements can constitute legally binding contracts.

  • An EULA typically applies to an app or software product that a user installs on their device
  • A Terms and Conditions agreement typically applies to a service, website, or SaaS product

Both types of agreement usually contain the following sections:

  • A section incorporating or distinguishing other policies and agreements
  • A disclaimer of warranties
  • A limitation of liabilities
  • A section establishing which legal jurisdiction will govern the agreement

An EULA typically contains the following additional sections:

  • A grant of license
  • A description of other rights and limitations
  • A section establishing the terms under which the license can be terminated

A Terms and Conditions agreement typically contains the following additional sections:

  • A section stating the user agrees to the Terms and Conditions by using the service
  • A section setting the terms of payments and billing
  • A section establishing the terms under which a user's account can be terminated

You should obtain acceptance of your agreement if you want it to be legally binding.

  • For an EULA, you should require the user to accept the agreement before installing the software
  • For a Terms and Conditions agreement, you should require the user to accept the agreement before creating an account or placing an order
Robert B.

Robert B.

Legal writer.

This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice.