I'm thinking software. If I bought an application, in full, in a retail store. Then I go to install the product, and they tell me I need to accept their license. Can they do that? Even though I already paid for the product.

  • 2
    Yes, they can. There should be a clause in there that if you don't accept the license, you can return it for a refund. Just because you bought it, doesn't mean you don't have to accept the license, as in you can do whatever you want with it (make copies, sell them, modify it and sell that, etc).
    – Ron Beyer
    Nov 24 '18 at 4:41

When you buy software, you have very specific rights given to you by law. You basically have the right to install the software on one computer, run it on that one computer, and make one backup. Each of these acts involves making a copy of the software, and you are allowed to make these copies (and no others) by law.

When you are shown a license, and are asked to either accept the license or return the software for a refund, you have three choices that are legal: 1. Accept the license, install the software, and do only things that the license allows (the license cannot take rights away that you have by law). 2. Don't accept the license and return the software for a refund. 3. Don't accept the license, and do only things that you are allowed to do by law. Which is never more rights than the license would give you.

Of course you might have bought the software under the wrong impression that you could install and run it on 100 computers in your company. You might then decide that the software is too expensive if you need to buy 100 copies for your purposes, and you have the right to return it for a refund.

I should repeat that accepting the license doesn't take any rights away that you had through the purchase. The purchase alone gives you very little rights, and the license may give you more rights.

  • The law does not prohibit using software for commercial purposes: a license may. Your option 3 combined with your first para. implies that you have an fettered right to install and use which is independent of the license. That part is wrong.
    – user6726
    Nov 24 '18 at 21:09
  • Which jurisdiction is that the law in? Also, how do you exercise your rights if the software won't install unless you click "I accept"? Nov 26 '18 at 9:32
  • What happens if nobody will accept the software for a refund, and the license provisions are onerous? Nov 26 '18 at 17:38

As long as you do not make any physical copies of the program, install, or run it (the latter two act require making copies), you can do what you want with the disk. What you purchased is a physical medium and a license, which allows you to install and use the program.

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