24 January 2020
These agreements are similar in a number of ways, but have some key legal and content differences that you should consider when setting up your mobile app.
When your user downloads, installs, and uses a copy of your app on their personal device, they're making a copy of your software, which is a copyrighted work.
An EULA, shortened as EULA, is a contract between you and the purchaser of your software. It gives the purchaser the right to use that copy of your software after they have paid for it.
The EULA relates mainly to the ability of your users to make that copy of your work and use that copy in certain ways and prohibits things such as reverse engineering and making additional copies.
It may include sections on accountability for behavior that isn't permitted, dispute resolution, and payment details such as membership fees.
Here's an example of what an EULA looks like when your users open your app:
Some of the main terms included in an EULA are:
The scope of the license is important to set out clearly what your users are allowed to do and what they can't do.
It's common to see Limitations of Liability clauses and Warranty Disclaimers in both agreements.
These clauses are included so that you can protect yourself in the case of your software malfunctioning or your users improperly using your software.
One example might be that if you create an accounting app, you would limit your liability so that you aren't responsible if your users incorrectly use the app and get their tax return wrong.
Some examples of this are Gmail, 500px, Dropbox etc. where they are essentially just an app that links with your web platform.
An EULA is narrower in scope and only covers the terms of the license of the app software itself, so it is more useful if your app doesn't communicate with a server (i.e. everything stays saved locally on the mobile device).
There are questions about whether EULAs are even legally binding. If you include an "I Accept" button, it is more likely to be enforceable, but courts have criticized lengthy agreements with hidden clauses that users cannot devote the time to reading.
If you don't have your own EULA, Apple imposes a default EULA that binds the user to its terms when they download your app. The default EULA includes things like defining the scope of the license, consent to allow the use of data about the user's device, a limitation of liability, exclusion of liability for third party materials and an exclusion of warranties.
This default EULA from Apple doesn't cover everything you might want to include in your own EULA, so it is usually good to create your own that's tailor-made for your app.
When it comes to Google, there isn't such a strong default EULA that you can use. The Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement from Google includes at clause 5.3 a requirement that you grant to your users a:
"non-exclusive, worldwide, and perpetual license to perform, display, and use the Product."
It also notes in the same clause:
"If you choose, You may include a separate end user license agreement (EULA) in Your Product that will govern the user's rights to the Product, but, to the extent that the EULA conflicts with this Agreement, this Agreement will supersede the EULA."
So while you can include your own EULA, it can't contain terms that go against the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement.
The Google Play Terms of Service include some terms between Google and your users that protect you, such as IP protection and disclaimer of warranties. There is no limitation of liability, however, and no privacy-related terms.
Here's an example of a license included with a Terms of Service instead of a EULA in Dropbox's iOS app:
So now you know which legal documents you should use, and what should go in them, but where should you put them in your app?
As noted above, most EULAs will pop up when you first open the app. This is commonly how they appear on PC or iPad/tablet as well. When downloading software such as Adobe Acrobat, an EULA will appear when installing the program.
On mobile apps, an EULA agreement usually appears in the same way and is agreed to by using a "clickwrap" method (where you have to click "Accept" or "I Agree" to proceed).
Here's an example that pops up when you first open the SanDisk app on Android:
Other mobile apps also display the EULA by linking to an external website.
Here's an example from a BitTorrent app:
Instead, they are usually placed within a menu (Settings, Legal or About menu) within the app like in this example from Dropbox:
Due to the requirements of the Apple store, you must have some form of EULA if you are making an iPhone or iPad app, but you can use the Apple default EULA if you wish.
When making a mobile app for Google Play store, it's more important to include your own EULA as Google has few terms already set up that will protect you.