Lawyers Help Society (Really!)

Fake News written by Noah Morals on Sunday, August 26, 2001

from the honest-lawyer-not-always-an-oxymoron dept.

I don't know why people hate lawyers so much. Just this last week one of my former clients said, "If I ever see you on the street, I'm not going to brake for you!" He actually made good on the promise. Thankfully I jumped out of the way in time and escaped with only minor injuries -- but injuries serious enough to file a lawsuit over.

Nevertheless, I still can't figure out why everybody wants to kill all the lawyers. We're not all bad. Sometimes we contribute to society. For instance, a group of attorneys has just invented a new protocol which will eliminate pop-up ads, IE-only websites, and viral software from the Internet. And they're not going to patent the idea.

So what do think about lawyers now, huh?

Two legal groups, LIARS (Lawyers Initiating Altruistic Reforms in Society) and CONARTISTS (Congress Of Notable Attorneys Reforming Trade, Industry & Science Throughout Society) have teamed up to produce the MOOLA (Massive Override Of License Agreements) Protocol.

Right now, when you (the supplicant) visit a typical corporate website, you automatically agree to a license agreement written in microscopic font that is buried on a hidden sub-sub-sub-page. These licenses, which are never written in English, contain convoluted provisions designed to extract every last ounce of money out of your wallet.

MOOLA is the exact opposite. Under this scheme, the corporation (supplicant) must accept the license agreements written by its users. If not, the users will take their eyeballs and credit cards elsewhere.

A MOOLA-compliant browser sends an "X-License-Agreement" header with each HTTP request. The header might contain text like:

By responding to this HTTP request you agree to abide by all of the following terms and conditions. If you decline to accept these terms, then you must ignore this HTTP request.

(1) You hereby agree to only return valid HTML code that conforms to 3.2, 4.0/Transitional, and/or XHTML 1.0 standards. Such code shall not contain proprietary extensions or plug-ins unless a fully functional alternative is made available.

(2) You hereby agree to refrain from including pop-up, pop-under, or pop-in-between advertisements of any sort. The HTML page that you return shall not launch another without user intervention.

(3) You agree to delete all personal information collected as a result of this request. You are, however, required to keep a permanent record of accepting this license agreement.

(4) You agree to fully disclose all of the functionality of any software program available for downloading from your site. Such software may not contain features or subprograms that operate without the explicit knowledge of the user. Moreover, all programs shall have a simple uninstall procedure that completely wipes away all traces of the software.

(5) You grant the user a non-exclusive right to (a) freely link to any page within your website, (b) publish excerpts of any content available within your website, and (c) use proxy or filtering software to alter the appearance of your website (i.e. to eliminate advertisements.)

The CONARTISTS organization issued a press release which stated, "Now license agreements will work both ways. This empowers users... and, of course, it also empowers lawyers by giving them twice as many opportunites to file lawsuits."

As you can see, these lawyer groups are fighting for the little guy. Attorneys are not always mouthpieces for large corporations. We care about everybody -- as long as there's something in it for us.

LIARS has already contacted the Mozilla project about supporting the MOOLA protocol. They seemed supportive but wanted "more time to study the protocol to make sure it's not some kind of a scam."

In other words, they don't trust lawyers. That's a shame.

Nevertheless, you can still take advantage of the MOOLA protocol right now. Simply configure your browser to include an X-License-Agreement header and you're all set.

It's a win-win situation. If the courts uphold such "header-wrap" licenses, then netizens will have a tool to beat corporations over the head with. If such licenses are deemed unenforceable, that means shrinkwrap and clickwrap licenses are also invalid -- another victory for netizens. Please hold your applause and compliments until later.

So, the next time you feel a sudden urge to punch a lawyer in the face, please calm down. We've done something for you lately.

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