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End-User License Agreement: What Are You Agreeing To?

Melissa LuVisi
August 19, 2021 | 2 min read

In today’s digital world, we agree to end-user license agreements (EULAs) all the time. Not sure what we’re talking about?

Before you download and install a software or mobile application, you are typically required to read and agree to a user license. Until you digitally agree to it, you won’t be able to complete the installation.

It’s one thing to agree to the EULA for a word processing program for personal use, but the stakes are higher when you click the “agree” button on a software application for your dental practice. After all, it could be collecting, storing, and processing sensitive patient data. 

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So, what exactly are you agreeing to?

What’s an End-User License Agreement (EULA)?

A EULA is also known as a licensed application end-user agreement, software license agreement, licensing agreement, click-wrap license, shrink-wrap license, or browse-wrap license. It gives the end-user the right to use a software application.

These agreements detail how the software can be used and the restrictions that may apply. For example, many EULAs prohibit you from reselling the software to others.

When you agree to the licensing terms, you’re essentially renting or purchasing a license from the seller or developer. In some cases, a EULA would allow the software owner to access, read, or even share the data that users enter into the software.

Understanding End-User License Agreements

If you use software applications in your dental practice, such as dental practice management software, you’ll need to agree to EULAs. You must read through them carefully to understand what you can do with the software. 

Not sure how to decipher the legalese? Here are some key components you should know:

Common Components in EULAs

A EULA should contain these basic components:

  • Licensor: The name and contact information of the software developer.
  • Licensee: The name and contact information of the person requesting to use the software.
  • Governing law: The state law that applies if conflicts arise between the vendor and user.
  • License granting: A EULA should explicitly state that the licensee is granted permission to use the application.
  • User restriction: Limitations on how the user can legally use the software. For example, whether you can install the software on multiple devices.
  • Maintenance and support: Specification on whether the vendor will provide support or maintenance services, as well as when and how the service will be provided (e.g., phone, email.) 
  • Start date: When the user is bound to the software’s terms and conditions. For example, upon downloading the software or opening the package.
  • Termination of licensing: The vendor’s right to terminate the license, e.g., when the user violates the restrictions.  

Why Are End-User License Agreements Important?

Now you may think, EULAs seem to favor software developers, what’s in it for me? That’s right, but it also protects end-users who play by the rules.

When you install an application, you’re using a product protected by copyright laws. A EULA allows you to legally buy or rent the software within specific parameters, protecting you from copyright infringement lawsuits.

Since the developer is earning money through licensing, it can afford to maintain the software, provide updates, and ensure that your data is protected from the latest cybersecurity threats.

The financial gain also serves as an incentive for software developers to innovate, develop new features, and create new products. This will ultimately benefit end-users. For example, you can access the latest technologies to improve your practice’s cost-efficiency or strengthen protection against cyberattacks.

Conclusion 

It’s important to understand what a EULA is so you’ll know what you can and can’t do with an application. You can avoid infringements that may result in losing access to the software or getting into legal hot waters.

Since dental offices handle sensitive patient information, it’s also critical to understand how your data may be used to ensure that you’re protecting patient’s identities and privacy.

Besides reading through EULAs carefully, you should use trusted HIPAA-compliant platforms and make sure your vendors have signed the HIPAA business associate agreement (BAA) to enhance cybersecurity in dentistry.

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