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Software Customer Bill of Rights

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the we-the-people dept.

Software 293

Cem Kaner of Badsoftware.com has written up a Software Customer Bill of Rights. Very appropriate considering our recent stories about Microsoft viruses, Dell's BIOS-clickwrap licensing agreement, etc.

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293 comments

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Sorry.... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6839922)

But this is America. Consumer rights are secondary to business rights...

Re:Sorry.... (1)

blitzoid (618964) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839951)

Which is why you should start your own business! You could boss anyone around, then!

Urgent Request (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840263)

Can somone link to the Slashdot article that:

1. Has at least 100 posts, and
2. Has the greatest troll-to-"wise" post ratio (T2WPR).

I am looking for stuff that the OS X-toting dim bulbs who run this site thought were REALLY profound, but which the populace collectively snickered at, by virtue of posting large number of responses that were modded down to -1 TROLL, -1 FLAMEBAIT, -1 REDUNDANT, etc.

Thank you for your support.
-Bartles and Jaymes.

Re:Sorry.... (1, Insightful)

s20451 (410424) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840054)

But this is America. Consumer rights are secondary to business rights... ... and making things better is secondary to making smug, cynical statements.

Family fun (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840171)

I wouldn't hesitate to fuck my 17-year old pretty little sister if she just were interested in a little bit of "family fun". Unfortunately I think she's a dyke. I once caught her and her best girlfriend on a couch looking all flushed, hot and bothered and extremely annoyed at me for running in "unannounced" while they were "watching TV". Yeah, right. Whatever, sis.

Wishful thinking (1, Insightful)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839926)

Nice thought but no one would ever adhere to these 'rights'. Its not profitable for commercial software vendors and open source vendors usually dont care or are too lazy to invest time and resources into making sure that these 'rights' are followed.

Re:Wishful thinking (4, Interesting)

s20451 (410424) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840042)

What you need is some sort of consumers' organization -- some sort of Ralph Nader type thing. There is a limit as to what one screwball can do, but a whole organization full of screwballs, all making noise ... even Microsoft would have to pay attention.

Is there such a thing as a Software Consumers' Association? I couldn't find anything like that using a quick Google search.

Re:Wishful thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840072)

They will invest if the government tells them they have to.

This type of bill of rights is something you can write your congressperson to read over. If enough people write, then the congressperson will listen.

Re:Wishful thinking (1)

Namaseit (668654) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840209)

Yes but you cant enforce this onto Free Software, because one the GPL indemnifies the programmers, *and* there are a lot of people in foreign countries that work on Free Software projects.

Re:Wishful thinking (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840096)

i can guess that some companies had griefs when there started to be some standards that you had to meet to sell electrical appliances because eventually they were forced by law to not make overly hazardous devices that were badly designed and built.

you could think software is where electrical home appliances were 50 years ago, software _is_ very new compared to other 'engineering' fields, and such guarentees that the software is safe are going to be among the few things properiaty software can live with open source.

open source.. well. that's a tough question what it should be compared to, electric hobby kits? nah.. well, maybe electric hobby kits that you can get to assemble by themselfs perfectly.

Re:Wishful thinking (2, Insightful)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840201)

Nice thought but no one would ever adhere to these 'rights'. Its not profitable for commercial software vendors and open source vendors usually dont care or are too lazy to invest time and resources into making sure that these 'rights' are followed.
Are you sure?

Following rule 1 is mandatory if you are including non-standard terms. GPL doesn't apply, as it is an optional component.

Following rule 2 is mandatory to a limited extent. While everyone should be aware of a defect, information on how to exploit it doesn't need to be revealed. Take a look at how Microsoft handles it right now - they have a dedicated Knowledge Base containing almost every "issue" with their produces.

Following rule 3 is mandatory. Failing to obey it is equal to false advertising - also known as lawsuit bait. Take "The Sims Online" as an example: nobody has filed a lawsuit, but it is considered a high risk for the publisher...

Following rule 4 is also mandatory, but is excusable in some cases. For example, Half-Life sends the CD-key to a central server which prevents piracy, but that's it.

Following rule 7 is mandatory, period. In most countries, judges would consider this term appearing in a boilerplate contract to be increadibly ludacrous and unenforcable (unless the publisher gives the customer money or something else in exchange...)

Out of the l0 rules posted in the link, the manufaturer is bound to honor five of them anyway. Of these five rules, the cost of following them is either neglegable, or lower than the cost of breaking them (loss through litigation, loss of opportunity sales, or loss from returned products.)

The remaining five rules are optional as they can vary from country to country. But just like the mandatory rules shown above, it would cost more for the publisher to break these rules than to obey them.

And then later, on the news, (4, Funny)

blitzoid (618964) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839929)

"Today a local man was arrested for screaming at employees of a local 'Best Buy' store after they refused to sign a contract he had printed out. Bystanders claimed that he refused to buy any of their products unless they signed said document, and that NOT signing would be a grave injustice. Our sources have told us that he is currently being held in Bellview Psychiatric Hospital, and is undergoing observation."

Re:And then later, on the news, (4, Funny)

McAddress (673660) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840255)

sounds like rms has a clone that buys software

I was going to read it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6839930)

But then IE crashed.





Just kidding! I'd never use IE.

customer has no rights (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6839931)

sad but true

Re:customer has no rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6839973)

Everyone has all the rights that they can buy.

MICHAEL, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6839939)

TO SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS CoCKSMOKER

Regards,
A Fan

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/_KISS_\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)___MY__|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\_ASS!_/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_


Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

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Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Live up to marketing???? (5, Interesting)

EDA Wizard (2225) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839940)

"3. The product (or information service) must live up to the manufacturer's and seller's claims."

When has any product ever "lived" up to the marketing claims? If I expected everything I bought to live up to their claims, I'd be dissapointed with every bar of soap, every beer, and every Big Mac.

Re:Live up to marketing???? (1)

blitzoid (618964) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839967)

I don't think you'd WANT the big mac they show in commercials. It's cold, some of it is fake, and I'm sure it wouldn't taste great.

And soap is soap, damnit. I've never seen it claimed to be more than it is in advertising.

Herbal Essence (5, Funny)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839995)

You must not have seen the herbal essence commercials then.

Re:Live up to marketing???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840004)

I don't think you'd WANT the big mac they show in commercials. It's cold, some of it is fake, and I'm sure it wouldn't taste great.


sounds like you described the real life big mac. but you want it, you can't resist it, shit sells. it's good that you eat garbage cos garbage is all you are.

Re:Live up to marketing???? (5, Insightful)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840091)

When has any product ever "lived" up to the marketing claims? If I expected everything I bought to live up to their claims, I'd be dissapointed with every bar of soap, every beer, and every Big Mac.

And that's not the way it should be. An ad shouldn't be able to tell me that a product is something when it's not. It is not my job to guess about what parts are lies.

de minimis fraud (1)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840104)

All advertising (specifically, product promotion) is fraudulent to some extent. They may claim that Big Mac tastes great in the commercials, but what if you don't think so? Then it's fraud. Maybe not legally, but ethically.

It's not possible to promote a product without lying a bit. This is called de minimis fraud, fraud within the scope of the law; fraud that cannot be avoided in capitalism.

Re:Live up to marketing???? (4, Insightful)

Riskable (19437) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840115)

Well, a bar of soap leaving you "clean and fresh" is something of an opinion. A piece of software that claims to work on Windows XP, but does not is a different story.

I've seen several boxed applications that have claims on the box that are simply not true... And I'm not talking about a game claiming to be able run on a 500MHz system.

I can name a number of MMORPGs that had big fat claims on their boxes/websites for features that were not (yet) in the games at launch. Hell, some of these games didn't even RUN after launch... With no refunds.

The section that you refer to is probably directed at things like that.

Re:Live up to marketing???? (4, Funny)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840123)

My tape drive advertised it's transfer rate as "Up To 60 megabytes / minute", and just like the claim truthfully says, it has never exceeded that amount.

Re:Live up to marketing???? (4, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840169)

Marketing is not what we are talking about.

Living up to the claims means that when we go in the store, and the package actually says "Imports all microsoft office formats", and it turns out that is false... that they have to take it back, no questions asked. It's a false sale.

The reason this needs to be stated is that, although you have this protection with physical products, the license-ish nature of software has allowed some vendors to claim that you have no recourse, even though they lied.

It's not the same thing as false advertising... more like sale under false pretenses.

Re:Live up to marketing???? (1)

stephenry (648792) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840226)

"I'd be dissapointed with every bar of soap, every beer, and every Big Mac."

You know, as a Student, I'd gladly take that beer off you if you don't want it!

Summary please (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6839945)

Ok.

I clicked on the link and was struck in the face by pages and pages of text. Fucking idiots.

Executive summary, anyone?

What about when Linux fails? (1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6839949)

Yeah, it's fashionable to want to sue Bill, but what if some guy creates some virus that brings a Linux system down to it's knees? Who do we sue? Linus? OSDL? Or will there be a double standard? Remember, if Bill gets to be sued, be prepared for your favorite OSS house to be liable as well. Otherwise it's just sheer hypocrisy to target MS. And remember, MS is made of of coders who went to the same schools as you. Contrary to OSS opinion, Bill does not write every single line of code in the products nowadays.

What about when Linux fails? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6839971)

I can repost this ad nauseum, since someone doesn't want to face the truth. Yeah, it's fashionable to want to sue Bill, but what if some guy creates some virus that brings a Since someone doesn't want to face the truth, I can repost this ad nauseum. Copy is a very useful function. Linux system down to it's knees? Who do we sue? Linus? OSDL? Or will there be a double standard? Remember, if Bill gets to be sued, be prepared for your favorite OSS house to be liable as well. Otherwise it's just sheer hypocrisy to target MS. And remember, MS is made of of coders who went to the same schools as you. Contrary to OSS opinion, Bill does not write every single line of code in the products nowadays.

Re:What about when Linux fails? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840131)

bill writing code is even funnier than scox code in linux. that worthless sack-of-shit couldn't write one line of code to save his miserable fucking life.

and since you're set on suing someone, sue your parents for raising an idiot.

Re:What about when Linux fails? (1, Informative)

tambo (310170) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840196)

Microsoft touts its market dominance at every opportunity - to support its FUD ("don't use Linux, go with the market leader!") and to control software and hardware developers relying on this computer-technology bottleneck ("either it runs according to our spec or it doesn't run.")

Hell - they even use it in this exact same context: "If Linux breaks, you can't call anyone. You can try getting some help from the Linux weirdos on some IRC channel, but good luck to you. Now in the unlikely event [ha!] that Microsoft software breaks, you have one source of qualified assistance [at $1.99 per minute, no doubt.]"

So it's disingenuous, at best, for Bill to now claim that his self-proclaimed role as figurehead is being unfairly used against him by suing Microsoft for its defective products. It's not unfair - it's the down side of positioning yourself as the standalone market leader. It's blatant doublespeak for Bill to destroy all the competition (illegally) and then claim that he's being singled out.

- David Stein

SHUT THE FUCK UP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840043)

if you don't like it, the don't use it.

and fuck your lame microshit kissing ass

Re:What about when Linux fails? (1, Insightful)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840203)

I fully agree with you.

I've been trying to make this point here before but open source, linux in particular, is a religion here. You'll always get moderated down.

These zealots like to point out that linux is almost devoid of remote holes, viruses or worms. What they fail to realize is that if linux had the same market share as Windows, all the goddamn script-kiddies and black hats would concentrate on linux instead of the MS Windows. And given the errata of the most popular linux distros, they'd have a field day!

I agree with most of it... (3, Interesting)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839952)

The product (or information service) must live up to the manufacturer's and seller's claims.

If I could have manufacturer's adopt one part of the consumers bill of rights, it would be to advertise with honesty. Do not sell me a software product which does not live up the advertising.

The one part I disagree with is the reverse engineering. Companies have a right to sell software and to ban people from reverse engineering it.

Re:I agree with most of it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6839968)

So I assume your computer is an original IBM PC then?

Re:I agree with most of it... (1)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839999)

All I am saying is that if a company says their product does something, then the product should do it. And software companies should spend more time testing their software, then pushing it out the door when there are flaws. When I give money for software, I should get exactly what they advertised.

Re:I agree with most of it... (1)

acoustix (123925) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840061)

Your missing the point of the AC who replied to your first post. You disagree with reverse engineering. He wants to know why.

He then points out that if we didn't have reverse engineering that the PC as we know it today would not exist.

Re:I agree with most of it... (1)

hysma (546540) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840051)

Going back to the good old fashioned car example... are you suggesting that if I buy a car, I should not have the right to reverse engineer it (take it apart), and fix problems, make customizations, or otherwise tweak it to my likings? With a car, I can do whatever I want to it, and still sell it --if it's road worthy-- to whoever I want for whatever I want. That is, as long as I don't keep a copy of it myself. Computer software should be no different. I can hack it, change it, and do whatever I want to it, but if I sell it, the whole thing is gone. I must purchase a new copy and start from scratch again if I want to hack it/upgrade it and resell it more than once.

Re:I agree with most of it... (1)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840093)

I think that if anyone could reverse engineer a product a company spends 1000's of hours making, then what would stop people from using parts of that software in their own programs? It would be too easy to steal code/ideas from companies which spend millions of dollars making the software.

That was hard to say. I hate defending companies.

Re:I agree with most of it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840193)

i think mr. seminal may not be aware that the original ibm pc (and bios) was reverse engineered and reimplemented via clean-room techniques. this was found to be a perfectly legal practise in a court of law. had the court decision gone the other way we most likely would not have pc-clones as we have them today.

You miss the point. (1)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840198)

People already to reverse engineer, and reverse engineering is almost a right already.

You are free to figure out how your car works, and make your own.. the car company doesn't make you sign a no reverse engineering clause... so what's the point?

Software success should not be based on secrets. Innovative ideas can be patented. (let's pretend that patent still works for a minute here). Figuring out what the file format of a word processor document is so I can make other software that uses it is hardly "stealing" from teh company.. the only reason for them to make proprietary formats is to lock you in.

Reverse engineering is already standard.. this just brings things in line with reality.

stealing ideas is what business is all about. Do you think any successful products are totally original ideas? Hardly.. they are just an interesting put together.

Re:I agree with most of it... (4, Insightful)

n.wegner (613340) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840213)

I think that if anyone could take apart a car that a company spends 1000's of hours designing, then what would stop people from making a similar car? It would be too easy to steal designs/ideas from companies which spend millions of dollars coming up with them.

How do you think Ford ever got competition from the likes of GM, VW, Kia, etc.? How do you think Ford started making cars?

I think they can patent some ideas, based on non-obviousness and the rest of patent law, but when it comes down to it, Ford still buys all the newest GM models and takes them apart, just like everyone else.

US patent and copyright law was created to expand the public domain. To do this, it gives an incentive to people for inventing (patents) or creating (copyrights). If you ever stop people from learning how to invent or create, by stopping them from taking apart and investigating the products of others, then you are acting against the intent of the constitution.

Re:I agree with most of it... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840221)

what would stop people from using parts of that software in their own programs?

Copyright law?

too easy to steal code/ideas

"Ideas" get exactly zero legal protection, and rightly so. Only actual code requires any protection, and that is already covered by copyright. And frankly, given that software defects cost us $60 billion a year in damages, they should be grateful we even give them that much.

From a purely practical standpoint, how exactly do no-reverse-engineering clauses help companies anyway? It's not like they can monitor every user 24/7 to make sure they aren't studying the product's operation. If someone publishes a similar program, they can study it for potential copyright violations. If they can't find any evidence of copied code, well too bad. Having multiple products that do the same thing is the same sort of competition that all other industries have to live with.

Re:I agree with most of it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840063)

Companies have a right to sell software and to ban people from reverse engineering it.

Oh really? So would you say the same about hardware? If you bought a car the manufacturer would have the right to ban you from reverse engineering it? Or are you treating software implementations of ideas differently from hardware implementations of ideas?

Re:I agree with most of it... (4, Insightful)

dvdeug (5033) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840155)

Companies have a right to sell software and to ban people from reverse engineering it.

Why? If I buy a car, I can dig around under the hood to my heart's content. If I buy a book, I can study the writing style. Why should software be any different, especially given that software interacts with other programs on my computer, and other systems on the net, in ways that can be important to know but are easily hidden from the use.

Re:I agree with most of it... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840233)

Whether we fully like the idea or not they have a right to enforce their patents.

But only their patents.

If their software is not patentable than no, they do not have the right to ban you from reverse engineering it, any more than someone could "ban" you from making a chair like the one they had made.

I suppose they could try to revoke your license, but by that point you'd already have a work alike, so. . .

KFG

Interesting... (4, Insightful)

mgcsinc (681597) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839958)

"1. Let the customer see the contract before the sale. It should be easy for customers of mass-market software products and computer information contracts to compare the contract terms for a product..." It would be interesting to see how the court opinions which make this right one of the few listed which are already enforcable would serve as precident in relation to the new agreements imposed by microsoft as one installs mission-critical updates. Would drastic changes to EULA's made by Microsoft in software updates which are all but absolutly essential for the wellbeing of your data, etc, be court enforcable? Probably not...

Re:Interesting... (3, Interesting)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839975)

The one thing which gets me about what MS does with their updates is they tell you they are selling you a good product when you buy it, but then a few months later tell you it is flawed. When you go to fix the product, they change the license agreement. I hate that.

It would be like if I purchased a VCR which did not work two months later, and after I went to have it fixed, the manufacturer decided to "add a feature" which sends them data about the VCR. It is BS.

Corporate Goverment (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6839962)

So who's going to fund this 'Consumer Friendly' bill? No Corporation would back it.

It's about time.. (2, Insightful)

sekzscripting (687192) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839965)

This is a really well written, thought out, piece of work. But the only flaw I see is: 4. User has right to see and approve all transfers of information from her computer. (Basically says end-user should see un-encrypted version of what is being sent) If this law would be to put into use, we would have more of a problem with people stealing credit cards. I agree with what they are trying to do, but this looks like (to me) as if it's going to promote exploits.

not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840037)

What #4 basically says is that the software should not secretly collect information to be transmitted without the user's knowledge and that this information should be available to the user in a readable (i.e. non-encrypted) format. Like when Blizzard games used to ship with spyware to "reduce piracy". #4 wants to give the user the power to decide whether or not to send his home phone number to Blizzard.

Re:It's about time.. (1)

Telex4 (265980) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840087)

This is a really well written, thought out, piece of work. But the only flaw I see is: 4. User has right to see and approve all transfers of information from her computer. (Basically says end-user should see un-encrypted version of what is being sent) If this law would be to put into use, we would have more of a problem with people stealing credit cards.

Why? For the credit card information to be sent from my computer, I must have, at some point, put it in, and so have seen it. By consequently sending this information out many times I am approving of each transfer.

Any legal ambiguities could be avoided easily enough. The thrust of the statement is clear: data processing systems cannot send data over a network without you (potentially, trivially) knowing about it. That is the case on my machine at the moment, and it should be the case on all computer systems.

Re:It's about time.. (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840160)

Yes but every time it is being sent, it says you should see it, and obviously it would have to be unencrypted. Yes, it is good that your system should not be talking to someone else behind your back, but the problem here isnt you simply seeing what you put in.

In short if you can see it unencrypted, so can anyone else. Information, especially of this nature, should be emcrypted the moment its entered. Since sending encrypted traffic would be impossible to 'see and approve' it would have to be encrypted at someother stage of the transmission. It would be a trivial thing then to steal that info, unencrypted, by having a trojan or the like to alter the packits just a little to send it somewhere else in a man in the middle sort of setup.

Though none of this matters considering in a week or so no one will remember this document anyway.

Re:It's about time.. (2, Insightful)

Telex4 (265980) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840205)

I just think you're interpreting the statement too literally...

4. User has right to see and approve all transfers of information from her computer

In the credit card case, you are talking about repetition of a single information transfer, which you will have seen the first time it is sent. If needs be, have an MD5SUM of each transfer so you can be sure it is the same.

There will always be a point between your saying "send it" and the data being sent where the computer could craftily do something to the information, and the only way to be certain about that is to view the source code.

Therefore I think you either have to conclude that this rule is crazy and useless, or that given the correct interpretation and some clever wording in the legal documents it is a very sensible rule.

Re:It's about time.. (1)

tambo (310170) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840148)

If this law would be to put into use, we would have more of a problem with people stealing credit cards. I agree with what they are trying to do, but this looks like (to me) as if it's going to promote exploits.

Look at the flip side. This would be a nice analogue to other credit-reporting laws. If you pull your credit report, you'll see a nice list of every other person who's accessed it. (Well, except the federal government, under some Patriot-act shenanigans; but that's an exception.) Having a record of every application that's sent my credit card number out, and the recipients of this very private info, would be very useful.

- David Stein

Utopia (4, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839974)

Nice piece. Very nice, and very never going to happen. At least as long as opponents are large corps with armies of slick lawyers and proponents the EFF, RMS and a few computer-educated consumers.

Remember, most computer users still think software crashes and glitches are part of life with a computer, that viruses and worms are the work of evil pirates and that Microsoft is the victim, not the cause, etc ...

In short: it'll never happen. Move along ...

Glad I live in the EU! (1)

stewwy (687854) | more than 10 years ago | (#6839982)

All those crummy Licences/EULA's etc have been unenforceable here for years! we cannot give out rights away here even if we wanted too. Mind you there's no point in sueing here, you(and your lawyers, of course) generally don't make a sh*t load of cash. just the purchase price back I paid for Win95 everything from then on has been a bug fix

Re:Glad I live in the EU! (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840012)

we cannot give out rights away here even if we wanted too.

What EU country do you live in??? I'd pack tomorrow and move to it if that was remotely true.

Re:Glad I live in the EU! (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840049)

I live in UK and I'm sure Statutory Rights cover most of what the parent-parent said.

This is of course wrt commerce, you obviously give away rights such as free speech when being in military intelligence.

but AFAIK, nothing can take away your statutory rights, and any EULA that asked you to would be meaningless.

Re:Glad I live in the EU! (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840111)

I live in UK

I noticed most UK residents are ready to defend their rights under the watchful eyes of the ever-present CCTV cameras.

I mean, come on ... The UK must be one of the countries where individual rights are taken away one by one the fastest, with next to no reaction from the public.

Re:Glad I live in the EU! (1)

Telex4 (265980) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840121)

Your statutory rights protect you here.

Your post is more of the same knee-jerk reaction you get in rags like the Daily Mail who delight in bigotry and bias; actually studying the EU might give you very different impressions.

Re:Glad I live in the EU! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840189)

actually studying the EU might give you very different impressions.

I did better than studying it, I lived in most of its countries. In some countries, most notably France, you can go to jail for saying certain things that aren't allowed by law. In others, like the UK, you're watched by cameras all day long. In most, you have to jump through hoops to own a hunting rifle because of strict gun laws. Sure, it's not a problem today, nobody notices, nobody cares, but it's like cancer : you start feeling pain when it's too late to cure.

Individual freedom in the EU my hiney. Most people here are giving away whatever rights they still have one after the other and they don't even know it.

TEAR UP THE BILL OF RIGHTS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840000)

It protects the rights of terrorists.

Re:TEAR UP THE BILL OF RIGHTS! (1)

AntiOrganic (650691) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840143)

It protects the rights of terrorists.

You misspelled "terrists."

Too much responsibility is bad for your economy (4, Interesting)

Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840005)

some strong feelings to hold companies fully accountable for losses caused by their products' defects

I can see where this view is coming from, but seriously; the litigious culture that is developing in the USA (and therefore no doubt on this side of the pond before long) could have a grave impact on your economy.

You have to take a certain degree of responsibility for your own action. Otherwise, everybody will just be too scared to do anything, and every American will just stay in bed all day.

You NEED suppliers to be a viable business yourself; and in return those suppliers deserve a leniency from you as far as accountability goes.

In return you get leniency from your customers as far as your own liability goes.

As the owner of a small software business, I feel comfortable with the fact that whilst I cannot sue Microsoft's ass if something goes terribly wrong; neither can my customers sue my ass.

Swings and roundabout; 6 of one...

Re ligitious culture (1)

goon america (536413) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840260)

The "litigious culture" in the US is actually a product of the way our legal system is set up. In the UK, for example, if you sue someone and fail to win, you are then liable for your opponent's legal costs. And the government there handles much of what is essentially a free-market system of civil law over here.

Blaming amorphous "culture" or "morals" is a quick way to end a discussion and avoid reaching any substantial conclusion.

Missed an important right (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840011)

There should be no changing the contract terms in order to get bug fixes. (And no bundling bug fixes with new features to get around this provision.)

My thoughts on this subject are made quite clear.. (1)

JessLeah (625838) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840014)

...by the Subject line of an email I just sent to some of my friends on this matter:

Subject: Great ideas that will never come to pass

What "Microsoft viruses?" (4, Insightful)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840019)

Oh, you mean that one that was patched a whole month before? Or are you talking about that e-mail attachment virus, the one for which you apparently expect Bill Gates to show up at people's houses telling them not to run the attachment?

How is it Microsoft's fault if users run the attachment? Is it Linus Torvalds' fault when there's a sendmail hole? Is that suddenly a "Linux hole?"

Just curious.

Re:What "Microsoft viruses?" (0, Flamebait)

nother_nix_hacker (596961) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840130)

Or are you talking about that e-mail attachment virus, the one for which you apparently expect Bill Gates to show up at people's houses telling them not to run the attachment?
I think he was refering to the fact that Microsoft had the stupidity to make Outlook programmable.

Re:What "Microsoft viruses?" (2, Funny)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840164)

How is it Microsoft's fault if users run the attachment? Is it Linus Torvalds' fault when there's a sendmail hole? Is that suddenly a "Linux hole?"
No, it's a GNU/Linux hole. :)

I'm sorry, but this software can't be patented (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840021)

Because software isn't a patentable good or service, it's simply a license.

Can we say "legal contradiction" boys and girls?

I knew you could.

KFG

Re:I'm sorry, but this software can't be patented (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840105)


Can we say "legal contradiction" boys and girls?

I'd like to see what you are smoking. It must be really good stuff.

Patents, copyrights and contract law are three separate issues. Just because there is a contract it doesn't mean that copyrights or patents are excluded.

Re:I'm sorry, but this software can't be patented (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840139)

"Patents, copyrights and contract law are three separate issues"

Exactly, that's my point.

I read the article. I read it carefully. I even read some of the stuff the article linked to.

Some interesting stuff in there.

KFG

Re:I'm sorry, but this software can't be patented (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840210)

Software isn't patentable; algorithms are.

This is a DMCA violation! (2, Insightful)

focitrixilous P (690813) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840024)

5. A software vendor may not block customer from accessing his own data without court approval.

But the software is intended to allow the user to see what Microsoft wants them to see. Encouraging users to see all their own data is circumventing the grand Microsoft plan of Digital Domination. I demand the site is removed from all search engines.

Hey Michael (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840026)

Do any of these rights have anything to do with Speakeasy's service? You miserable cock.

They forgot one (3, Insightful)

stwrtpj (518864) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840034)

IMHO, there's one the omitted from the list:

11. The user shall have the right to view the source code on demand.

If I am running your software on my computer, I have the right to see what exactly it is doing. In 99% of the cases, I would not exercise this right, if I believe that the software is doing what it is supposed to do and I have no suspicions that it is doing something funny. I have a Red Hat Linux system but don't have most of the source code RPMs installed, or the full Linux kernel source installed. It's good enough for me to know that I can acquire it on demand.

And before I get flamed for sound like a clone of RMS, realize that seeing the source code is not necessarily the same as modifying and redistributing it. All Free Software is Open Source, but not all Open Source is Free Software. I would, however, object to having to sign NDAs to see source. You can tell me not to redistribute your source and I will abide by that, as that is simply following existing copyright law, but I would not accept a blanket gag order to not discuss the source at all.

Of course, this will probably never happen, but its a nice thought, anyway.

Re:They forgot one (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840214)

11. The user shall have the right to view the source code on demand.
While that option is helpful (especially for software from vendors that can't program properly), I would prefer that it should not be a "right".

Take the large array of online video games, for example. The good thing about keeping the source code closed is that it helps prevent cheaters. Naturally, cheats still appear, but they are either easy to detect or have problems of their own (e.g. a batch of Aim-bots for UT2003 had trojan horses included with them.)

As soon as the source code appears, you see a boom of cheaters playing around. They will die off eventually, but they last long enough to kill the game for most players.

If you want to know what a program is doing, there are utilities [sysinternals.com] that can help you out. In any case, a binary package is good enough for most users that want to know what is going on.

Re:They forgot one (1)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840225)

Funny, I know very little software that I can't get access to the source code. Windows XP, Office, Solaris, etc... All are source available - The problem is the cost, don't expect to be paying 99.95 for a source code licence to any of these things

Great, but (3, Interesting)

mcc (14761) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840036)

This is beautiful. Make it clearer, though, that we're talking about use licenses/single purchase licenses, not source code copy licenses such as the GPL. You need to very clearly define what kinds of purchases this bill of rights applies to, or software manufacturers will wierdly try to define their products so they fall outside the bill of rights' scope.

I wonder what would happen if 40,000 slashdotters mailed a copy of this to their respective congressferrets?

The only thing I would add is to see if there's any reasonable way something can be done about the fact the BSA has made it a criminal act to own lots of software and have less than perfect archiving of license paperwork.. I don't think there's any way that could be done in a reasonable manner within this "bill of rights" though...

Re:Great, but (1)

davmoo (63521) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840136)

I wonder what would happen if 40,000 slashdotters mailed a copy of this to their respective congressferrets?

Unless they each attach $1000 to their letter, not a damned thing.

America has the best government money can buy.

Without sounding like a 60's radical (4, Insightful)

ctwxman (589366) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840046)

As long as software publishers can get an ear from congressmen and senators that I can't get... and can deliver cash for elections that I can't... they'll get benefits that I can't.

Just the 10 basic facts (5, Informative)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840048)

Just for reference, for those who don't have time to R the FA, here are the ten items listed in the Bill of Rights, without the explanation.

(Note, this does not excuse you from reading the FA, there will be a test.)

Software Customer Bill of Rights

1. Let the customer see the contract before the sale.

2. Disclose known defects.

3. The product (or information service) must live up to the manufacturer's and seller's claims.

4. User has right to see and approve all transfers of information from her computer.

5. A software vendor may not block customer from accessing his own data without court approval.

6. A software vendor may not prematurely terminate a license without court approval.

7. Mass-market customers may criticize products, publish benchmark study results, and make fair use of a product.

8. The user may reverse engineer the software.

9. Mass-market software should be transferrable.

10. When software is embedded in a product, the law governing the product should govern the software.

Bonus points if you can figure out which of the above *didn't* have a detailed explanation in the original!

Need to consume? (1)

Potor (658520) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840065)

I am well aware that everyone involved in any way with computers at sometime needs new software and hardware. Hence, I agree in general with the concept of enhanced and protected consumer rights. It seems, however, that buying new soft/hardware simply opens each of us to a further and further erosion of privacy. I think then that the most prudent course of action is not merely to demand more rights, but rather to curtail our purchases and live with older software. For new rights come with new interpretations, and these interpretations may not be as intended.

fggf (2, Insightful)

ascalon (683759) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840067)

Some guy posts his thoughts about how the software industry should run on his blog and it makes the front page. What happened to the "stuff that matters" clause? This isn't going to change anything.

They take all the rights, with no responsibilities (4, Insightful)

-tji (139690) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840076)

The software and service licensing has become ridiculous over the last few years. They create these huge legalese documents, and imply agreement to them by opening a package or using a service. And, try returning a piece of software if you don't agree to the license, good luck.

While these agreements become more complex and onerous, the people creating them have taken on no responsibilities to clarify the licenses, explain the reqstrictions, etc.

If the companies are allowed to use these licenses, they should be required to have an independent citizens rights group translate/rate the license to compare it to accepted norms of how restrictive the licenses are. Rather than expecting each person to read the complete license, or have their lawyer interpret it for them; it should be analyzed by a professional and summarized in simple language. It should also carry ratings on a few key points, like how much it tries to limit product usage, resale, reverse engineering.. and, related areas like privacy protection by the company.

Customer's bill of rights: (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840097)

1. You have the right to remain silent.
2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
3. All your base are belong to us.
4. You have no chance to survive, make your time.
5. Ha ha ha.

Let's give it more legalize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840117)

> 7. Mass-market customers may criticize products, publish benchmark study results, and make fair use of a product.

Mass market software publisher license should NOT include any term not related with software and copyrighted items use and copy or access to publisher sites. "Use" should be considered as direct using of software and not imply any indirectional use including but not restricted discussing, benchmarking, evaluation results and storing software between use acts.

But seriosly - we need some Uniform Software Mass Publisher license which could be implied to any software in any shop like uniform contract when we buy some real goods (camera, car, washer etc).

You know.. (5, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840124)

I went to read this article thinking I would probably end up posting and saying that the US is too litigous, that it's dumb to have agreement upon agreement, even on the side of good, and that it was probably just a bunch of whiny rights.

What I found, though, was a simple, precise set of terms that are wholly agreeable. Nothing in that document is the least bit complicated or overbroad.

Let us see the contracts before we have to agree to them. Don't take away rights we already have, like criticism and reverse engineering, and first sale. If you know about serious bugs, tell us. Don't lie about what the product does.

That's pretty straightforward, and should not be the least bit damaging to anyone selling decent software.

Awesome, but they missed a big one. (4, Interesting)

tambo (310170) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840128)

Y'know, I was just thinking this exact same thing on Friday - that the software industry is having a serious identity crisis at present. They can't figure out what products they're selling, and how they're doing it. They're mostly driven by the profit motive: How can we generate more profit? Which is great if the answer is, "build a better product" - but crap if the answer is compulsory upgrades, limited-time licenses, or license audits.

But there's a big one missing, particularly important in light of Symantec's foolhardy announcement:

The software can be installed on multiple machines.

I own a notebook and a desktop home server. I use both of them basically as a unit - sometimes literally, via Terminal Services or Synergy. They achieve different purposes - the server provides infrastructure (holding data, managing requests from other users [e.g., web pages], network security, MP3s), while I run actual applications on my notebook.

With this setup, it only makes sense to have a roughly identical set of software on each. I don't want my word processing solely on my notebook, and I don't want all of my security apps solely on my server.

So it's exactly that reason why this product-activation crap is odious. If I want two functionally-identical machines, I have to buy two operating systems, two word-processing packages, two versions of TurboTax and Symantec. similarly, with DRM, I'll have to buy two licenses for every piece of media I want to play. Others will follow down this path to the seedy underworld of profit-driven software.

It only seems fair that I expect to pay only once per software package. After all, I'm one guy; I'm never typing on both machines at the same time. Now, I understand why software companies are reluctant to release software that can be installed a trillion times, because it tends to get purchased, like, eight times, and then widely distributed on IRC. But at the same time, they're smacking down guys like me.

So with that in mind, I propose: Let software be installed on multiple machines. That number can be limited, and it can be small. Ten is fine - if I install software on more than ten machines, I should probably be purchasing a site license. But one is insufficient, in this day of frequent multiple-computer ownership.

- David Stein

The other side (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840180)

User-based licensing is great for individuals and some companies; Sun appears to be getting traction on this model for its Orion software stack.

But user-based licensing tends to seriously hurt organizations that have more users than computers -- particularly universities. If you have 50,000 users and only 5,000 computers, you don't want to pay for 50,000 licenses.

Re:The other side (1)

tambo (310170) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840218)

Ah, but you misinterpret. I didn't argue that we should put up with software licenses tied to individuals. I argued that we should put up with software licenses tied to specific computers - but not for only one computer.

- David Stein

Re:The other side (2, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840259)

In that case it will never work. If every piece of software can be run on N computers then businesses will buy 1/Nth as many copies, software companies will increase the price by a factor of N, and then home users won't be able to afford it. If you try to solve it by making a distinction among fields of use (home vs. business users) then I think you've just replaced one problem with another one.

Movie: "The Music Man" (1)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840144)

If I recall right, in that movie a con artist explained what he did as "selling dreams". In the software industry, such dreams are vaporware, and trying to collect money for something that doesn't match the hype is perilously close to con-artisianship. What law covers such things, that we can use to prosecute those developers who claim their software will let you do thus-and-so, but the EULA says they are not liable when it fails to deliver?

There already is one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6840147)

It only has one point but it is all inclusive.

1) You have the right to be fucked.

#11 (4, Interesting)

redkingca (610398) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840211)

I sometimes long for the 80s. Sure I might wait years for a software release, but with a few exceptions, it always worked. And it usually worked as advertised. I miss products like WordPerfect 5, it worked right out of the box. And if I had a problem I could call someone and actually get help, as opposed to a prepared statement.

So I feel it needs another article:
11. A software vendor will provide real support for the products they sell. Or A software vendor will outline in detail what; if any, support they provide and what guidelines they use.

A shorter version (3, Funny)

argoff (142580) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840236)

How about the right of customers to copy distribute and modify freely. The other problems will take care of themselves.

There is a danger here (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 10 years ago | (#6840241)

The article cites a news.com story [com.com] calling for software developers to be liable for damage caused by their products. All very laudable and hight time it happened, but...

One of the ideas behind the SCO suit, as explained on Slashdot (admittedly not always a solid source and IANAL) was that if major damages were awarded against the linux communiy then the rights to the system would be transferred in lieu of dammages, since linux has no financial existence.

If so, that makes the hateful "absolutely no warranty" clause one of the things that makes the GPL practical!

Consider: MegaCorp X puts in linux in a major distribution. Something goes wrong. Linux gets blamed. MegaCorp X says "owned!"

For the paranoia minded, a developer could even be suborned to insert the fatal bug - it's not too far from some of the SCO scenarios.

The Free Software movement needs to think about this one carefully.

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