Should Companies Be Liable For Buggy Software?

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. <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.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 25, 2009
    #1
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  2. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    Enkidu Guest

    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.
     
    Enkidu, Dec 25, 2009
    #2
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  3. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    Carnations Guest

    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"
     
    Carnations, Dec 25, 2009
    #3
  4. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    thingy Guest

    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. 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
     
    thingy, Dec 26, 2009
    #4
  5. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    thingy Guest

    On Dec 26, 12:00 pm, 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".
    >
    > 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
     
    thingy, Dec 26, 2009
    #5
  6. Yes - if they claimed they were bug free.

    --
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.
     
    Jamie Kahn Genet, Dec 26, 2009
    #6
  7. In message <80f96698-d0f6-475a-
    >, 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?
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 26, 2009
    #7
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