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Should Companies Be Liable For Buggy Software?

 
 
Lawrence D'Oliveiro
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      12-25-2009
<http://techdirt.com/blog/itinnovation/articles/20091216/0816127382.shtml>

On the one hand, it seems reasonable that, if you sell a product, you should
offer a guarantee of fitness for intended purpose. Go into Harvey Norman,
for instance, and that’s true of every single product there—except the
software. Try to buy a PC without Microsoft Windows, for example—you can’t.
It’s a bundle deal, all or nothing. Yet if you look at the fine print of the
warranty conditions, you’ll see that the warranty doesn’t apply to the whole
bundle deal, it only applies to the hardware, not the software. So the
seller wants you to accept the deal as an indivisible bundle, yet they won’t
themselves treat it as an indivisible bundle when you find something wrong
with it and ask them to fix it.

But on the other hand, as someone who develops software for a living, I know
first-hand that it’s practically impossible to develop bug-free software of
any significant size and complexity. In areas where human lives are involved
(e.g. medical equipment, aircraft/spacecraft control systems), there are
strict procedures followed of such a degree of rigidity and conservatism
that productivity goes right through the floor. And yet they still can’t
guarantee that there are no bugs.

The only reasonable answer, that I can think of, is that you cannot sell
software as a product. It will simply never be of good enough quality. But
you can’t just give it away, the only real way to absolve yourself of
responsibility for it is to give away the source code as well—make it Free
Software.

But there’s nothing wrong with selling services fixing and customizing such
software. That way, you’re not liable for the quality of the software
itself, only for the quality of your work on it, which is what the customer
is paying for. I think that’s an eminently fair and practicable business
model.
 
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Enkidu
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      12-25-2009
Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
>
> The only reasonable answer, that I can think of, is that you cannot
> sell software as a product. It will simply never be of good enough
> quality. But you can’t just give it away, the only real way to
> absolve yourself of responsibility for it is to give away the source
> code as well—make it Free Software.
>

No. You sell it as "may contain bugs", just like strawberry jam is sold
as "may contain traces of peanuts".

Cheers,

Cliff

--

The Internet is interesting in that although the nicknames may change,
the same old personalities show through.
 
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Carnations
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      12-25-2009
On Sat, 26 Dec 2009 12:00:57 +1300, Enkidu wrote:

> Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
>>
>> The only reasonable answer, that I can think of, is that you cannot
>> sell software as a product. It will simply never be of good enough
>> quality. But you can’t just give it away, the only real way to absolve
>> yourself of responsibility for it is to give away the source code as
>> well—make it Free Software.
>>

> No. You sell it as "may contain bugs", just like strawberry jam is sold
> as "may contain traces of peanuts".


But, given that you and others claim that it is not possible to develop bug-free software then your claim
is a misrepresentation - because you claim it *does* contain bugs.

And, besides, software is never "sold" - it is "licensed not sold" - you cannot claim something is sold
when there is no consideration paid.


--
"Filtering the Internet is like trying to boil the ocean"
 
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thingy
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      12-26-2009
On Dec 25, 1:03*pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
> <http://techdirt.com/blog/itinnovation/articles/20091216/0816127382.shtml>
>
> On the one hand, it seems reasonable that, if you sell a product, you should
> offer a guarantee of fitness for intended purpose. Go into Harvey Norman,
> for instance, and thats true of every single product thereexcept the
> software.


Is it? the CGA says fit for purpose, I am not aware that it excludes
software. The labeling is pretty clear to my mind, if they say such
and such a spec and OS, then if your PC meets or exceeds it they have
an obligation to fix the issue or refund your money.

I can understand that piracy is an issue but the CGA is there.

regards

Thing
 
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thingy
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      12-26-2009
On Dec 26, 12:00*pm, Enkidu <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
>
> > The only reasonable answer, that I can think of, is that you cannot
> > sell software as a product. It will simply never be of good enough
> > quality. But you cant just give it away, the only real way to
> > absolve yourself of responsibility for it is to give away the source
> > code as wellmake it Free Software.

>
> No. You sell it as "may contain bugs", just like strawberry jam is sold
> as "may contain traces of peanuts".
>
> Cheers,
>
> Cliff
>
> --
>
> The Internet is interesting in that although the nicknames may change,
> the same old personalities show through.


Which is a cop out and not the same thing....CGA clearly states fit
for intended purpose...I think its wrong that software has so many
exclusions....if there are bugs the vendor should be fixing them for
free....with no forced subscription model, or you get your $ back.

regards

Thing



 
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Jamie Kahn Genet
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      12-26-2009
Yes - if they claimed they were bug free.

--
If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.
 
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Lawrence D'Oliveiro
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      12-26-2009
In message <80f96698-d0f6-475a-
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)>, thingy wrote:

> On Dec 25, 1:03 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
> central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
>>

<http://techdirt.com/blog/itinnovation/articles/20091216/0816127382.shtml>
>>
>> On the one hand, it seems reasonable that, if you sell a product, you
>> should offer a guarantee of fitness for intended purpose. Go into Harvey
>> Norman, for instance, and that’s true of every single product
>> there—except the software.

>
> Is it? the CGA says fit for purpose, I am not aware that it excludes
> software.


Have you ever heard of anybody in this country successfully taking
Microsoft, or any of its resellers, to task over deficiencies in Windows?
 
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