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Why Can't Microsoft be Sued Under the Lemon Law?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the is-there-a-lawyer-in-the-house dept.

Microsoft 210

briant97 asks: "Microsoft is sitting back making all this money by charging for desktop and server operating systems. If you go for a server, they also add additional charges through client access licenses. Well, now that they've charged you all this money they leave their software open to viruses and exploits beyond belief, which will cost your company even more money. When will it stop? When will Microsoft become liable for their actions? I mean they are making billions while costing other companies billions. Ford, Chevy, and all other car manufactures get held liable if they make a defective product, why not Microsoft?" One can argue that you sign away your right to seek damages from Microsoft, by agreeing to the EULA, however there is still this issue as to the strength of a EULA since they've never been tested in court. How do you feel about this subject? Should software owners be allowed to "sign" away their basic rights via click-thru licensing, or should software manufacturers be liable for the critical defects that show up in their software?

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Lemon Law (5, Insightful)

arrow (9545) | more than 10 years ago | (#9554974)

My first guess would be because the "Lemon Law" only covers cars.

From http://www.mylemon.com/faq.htm:
What types of products are covered by the Lemon Law ?

All motor vehicles primary used for personal use are covered under the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Lemon Law.

Re:Lemon Law (1)

p4ul13 (560810) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555787)

Oh sure, let a silly thing like legality dictate what the law can do.

So while the lemon laws might not fit, I'd suspect some sort of action could be run through the Better Business Bureau [bbb.org] . What exactly you'd try to nail them with is up to you. I'm more of an idea man.

I'm also feeling addicted to Windows (3, Funny)

fluor2 (242824) | more than 10 years ago | (#9554983)

I'm also feeling addicted to Windows. And they pushed this on me when I was a kid.

Just like smoking.

Re:I'm also feeling addicted to Windows (5, Funny)

PD (9577) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555439)

Judging by the hundreds of viruses in my inbox, I'm getting a good whiff of second-hand windows.

Re:I'm also feeling addicted to Windows (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556068)

"I'm also feeling addicted to Windows. And they pushed this on me when I was a kid."

Yeah I was a gamer, too.

slippery slope (5, Insightful)

voisine (153062) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555016)

Just remeber, if Microsoft is held liable for it's products in spite of the EULA, it's only a matter of time before other software comapanies and eventually open source authors will be sued for the same. Are you really so eager to jump headlong into the new world of software liability litigation?

Re:slippery slope (4, Interesting)

Radical Rad (138892) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555168)

Are you really so eager to jump headlong into the new world of software liability litigation?

It's bound to happen eventually. And I have to believe that the liability for software would not exceed it's purchase price unless there are punative damages for gross negligence. I was told by an engineer who sometimes works as an expert witness in product liability suits that it's very hard to prove negligence, so I don't think Joe College-student who is giving away his Free and Open Source project for free would be affected.

Re:slippery slope (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9555342)

On the other hand it's not hard to imagine a lawyer arguing that allowing anyone to contribute to a product's code without knowing anything about them could be negligent on its face.

Re:slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9555450)

And how do we "know" all about them? Goto our friendly neighborhood Home Land Security Office and have them tracked down and interrogated?

Re:slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9555534)

"Goto our friendly neighborhood Home Land Security Office and have them tracked down and interrogated?"

Not if you want to get the job done right. But seriously, many companies perform a background investigation before hiring.

Re:slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9556455)

According to this guy [slashdot.org] open sourcers can't afford to hire investigaters.

Re:slippery slope (3, Insightful)

Bastian (66383) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555578)

But do you really want Joe College Student, who has a big fat two digit number in his pocket and a big negative five digit number on his student loan to be exposed to the risk of getting sued over some barely-tested and half-broken piece of software whose source he posted to the web incase somebody else wanted to work with it?

Re:slippery slope (-1, Troll)

sudog (101964) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556022)

No, it's not bound to happen eventually, and you had better hope it doesn't. Software is software: if lives depend on it, then there are extra contractual clauses and certifications that can be used to force vendors to comply with safety regulations. You can make them guarantee or indemnify their products.

Otherwise, software is like any other art: you can't put a stupid blanket regulation in to make people write better software, the same way you can't force artists to create better art: what is "better" is so subjective as to make the imposition of external limits a stupid, speech-stifling waste of time.

Dumbass.

Re:slippery slope (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556158)

Software is art by definition then?

I concur, Dumbass.

Re:slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9556179)

There's no need for name calling. Why do you have to be like that...you just disagree with him -- no need to get in his face.

Re:slippery slope (1)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556456)

I second this as well. IMHO it seems more people are focusing more on tighter less buggy software. Might the manufacturers see this change coming as well?

Re:slippery slope (4, Informative)

13Echo (209846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9557006)

Considering that nearly all GPL/Free/OpenSource software says that "THERE IS NO WARRANTY" (etc, etc), your claim is without merit.

Even Microsoft will not be liable for their software defects. They make it perfectly clear in their own license (their exeption is refunds and replacement of the software).

Kinda debunks that concept about paying Microsoft licenses for the sake of having a liable software provider, doesn't it?



NO LIABILITY FOR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES. To

the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, in no event shall

Manufacturer or its suppliers be liable for any damages

whatsoever (including without limitation, direct or indirect

damages for personal injury, loss of business profits, business

interruption, loss of business information, or any other

pecuniary loss) arising out of the use of or inability to use

this product, even if Manufacturer has been advised of the

possibility of such damages.

Re:slippery slope (3, Insightful)

silverbolt (578120) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555277)

Exactly. Microsoft is just being singled out because they are making all this money. No software program, not even your $FAVORITE_DISTRO, is foolproof. Holding software developers/companies accountable is not feasible nor advisable. Best to let market decide which ones to prosper and which ones to push to oblivion.

Re:slippery slope (1)

boneshintai (112283) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555521)

Exactly. Microsoft is just being singled out because they are making all this money. No software program, not even your $FAVORITE_DISTRO, is foolproof. Holding software developers/companies accountable is not feasible nor advisable. Best to let market decide which ones to prosper and which ones to push to oblivion.

And what if we replace the appropriate nouns with Ford, utomobiles, and automotive manufacturers? The problem is that consumers are not and never will be knowledgeable enough to judge software quality objectively, nor should they need to be. Lemon laws exist to protect consumers from bad products that are too complex to be readily understood.

Re:slippery slope (-1, Flamebait)

sudog (101964) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556070)

They don't need to be, unless their decision affects actual lives, or the safety of some vital component.

Are you honestly going to sit there and insist that a normal, home PC is somehow worthy of lemon laws which are designed to protect the lives of citizens like you and me?

What about the firmware in your PS2? The software sitting on the hard drive of your XBox? PCs are so important they deserve the kinds of regulations and protections that vehicles do (which kill many thousands of people yearly.)

Negligence in one doesn't translate to negligence in the other, you fucking twit.

You wanna start regulating the quality of the writing in books? How about the quality of a hanging piece of art on the wall? That's *exactly* the same thing. Moron. There's a reason why software is protected speech and why people who write it call it "art": because that's exactly what it is. Software IS art. There are thus so many subjective opinions as to what "good" software is that regulating it would be a complete, speech-stifling waste of fucking time.

So why are you even fucking arguing about it?

Re:slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9556203)

I'd so kick your ass for talking to me like that in person. Where do you get off talking to people like that?

Re:slippery slope (3, Insightful)

Radical Rad (138892) | more than 10 years ago | (#9557032)

So why are you even fucking arguing about it?

Maybe he's arguing about it because you don't even understand the terms you are using, so you are obviously clueless.

Are you honestly going to sit there and insist that a normal, home PC is somehow worthy of lemon laws which are designed to protect the lives of citizens like you and me?

You believe that Lemon Laws are designed to protect lives and use this as your argument that software doesn't need similar laws. Go learn what Lemon laws actually are and then you'll realize how silly you look.

And why are you being so abusive to people in an argument over something you don't even understand? Is it because Microsoft was used as a perfect example of the type of company we need protection from? Why do you pledge allegiance to Microsoft? Do you work for it? Do you own stock in it? Tell us please.

Re:slippery slope (2, Insightful)

isaac (2852) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555665)

Just remeber, if Microsoft is held liable for it's products in spite of the EULA, it's only a matter of time before other software comapanies and eventually open source authors will be sued for the same.

Of course there's a big difference between the GPL and a EULA. A EULA imposes additional terms upon the buyer after a sale! This is, of course, redonkulous and utterly unenforceable. The consumer software buying process goes like this - you go to store, you pay your money, you walk out with a box of software.

Only when you get home and open the box do you get to read the EULA (and by the way, no retailer will accept returns of opened software!).

Now, if the terms of the sale were clearly specified on outside of the package, and you had to signify your assent to the terms before taking the software from the store, then the EULA might be enforceable. (Even then it would probably contain unenforceable terms, but that's a separate discussion.)

Of course, no software vendor or retailer is actually willing to do this because it would totally kill impulse purchases that are the backbone of retail software sales.

The GPL is a different sort of license, covering redistribution; if you buy a cd of GPL'ed software, the GPL allows you to redistribute it subject to certain conditions. If you don't assent to its terms by redistributing it, I can't think of a reason why the seller would not be liable for the software. Of course, if you just download GPL'ed software for free, the site you downloaded the code from may not be liable because, hey, you got it for free!

-Isaac

Re:slippery slope (2, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556145)

"... it's only a matter of time before other software comapanies and eventually open source authors will be sued for the same."

For the record, I'd never ever contribute anything to the Open Source Community if I would be held responsible for the criminal act of another party.

Here's the problem: Viruses don't write themselves. It'd be like suing Ford because somebody put sugar in your gas tank.

Re:slippery slope (2, Interesting)

hotpotato (569630) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556483)

Just remeber, if Microsoft is held liable for it's products in spite of the EULA, it's only a matter of time before other software comapanies and eventually open source authors will be sued for the same.

Not so sure about open source: When you use a Microsoft product, you pay them for it. With this in mind, you can discuss what sort of liability they have. OTOH using open source products is free, so using them is like using a knife someone gave you for free: If you cut yourself, it's your problem.

Of course it's a bit more complicated when you pay a programmer to do open source development for you. But I don't think it's su ch a bad idea that such a developer be held liable for her code.

Re:slippery slope (3, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556840)

Just remeber, if Microsoft is held liable for it's products ... eventually open source authors will be sued for the same.

"Lemon Laws" basically let you get your money back on a defective product.

So, keeping to that idea - Sure, I'll gladly refund the purchase price of $0 when a program I write fails to work for someone.

Similarly (as a freelance contractor), if someone pays me to write a program, and it doesn't work... Well, I don't suppose I'd get paid, would I? So why should Microsoft (and any other commercial software house) not have to live up to the basic standard of "works as advertised"?

Re:slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9557008)

>Are you really so eager to jump headlong into >the new world of software liability litigation?

I'm pretty sure that liability is a commercial legal term, and since open source software is given away, and not sold, it wouldn't apply as well as the lemon laws.

Of course, maybe creating a public nuance could apply since it doesn't involve the act of buying and selling.

Because (0, Redundant)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555025)

Microsoft is a Lime. (Obscure _stretched_ reference to Harry Lime).

-1 offtopic, but I have karma to burn... (1)

FlyingOrca (747207) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555640)

You know, I didn't think anyone remembered The Third Man... but if you know who Harry Lime is, you might really appreciate a book I just finished reading for about the tenth time in twenty years or so (yeah, I like it that much). It's an offbeat spy thriller/romance called Lime's Crisis by novelist/screenwriter Ronald Bass [lukeford.net] . Wonderful read. Cheers!

As is.... (2, Interesting)

passthecrackpipe (598773) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555035)

because software is traded "as is" - first of all, there is no transfer of property, so there is no sale, hence most consumer protection laws don't apply. Second, consumer protection law is there to protect you being fooled by dishonest tradespeople. Since it is sold "as is", and moreover, since the only people left on this planet that don't know that Windows is a stinking pile of crap is some lost tribe in the dark jungle of borneo, you can't really claim to have been tricked now, can you?

Just don't buy it to begin with.....

Re:As is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9555875)

Used cars are sold "as is"; however, the lemon law still applies to them.

Re:As is.... (2, Insightful)

schon (31600) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556448)

there is no transfer of property, so there is no sale

Bullshit. If there was no sale, then the store is liable for fraud - because they sold it to me. And if you wanna go bark up that tree, you'll find that MS sells the software to them, so MS would also be liable for fraud.

Just because you've fallen for the EULA propaganda, doesn't mean it's true.

exploder (2, Interesting)

Scottarius (248487) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555039)

well for one thing, my server is not going to hurtle out of control and kill a bus load of nuns if it's defective.

Re:exploder (2, Interesting)

adam mcmaster (697132) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555097)

That really depends if your server is running any kind of system which could be dangerous; if your server is defective, for example, and is in control of a rail signaling system, it could easily send a train hurtling out of control.

Re:exploder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9555224)

Or how about a Navy Cruiser?
Or an air traffic control system?
Or a nucular power planet.
Or a heavy earthmover hurtling toward a bus full of nuns holding babies?
(oh we all ready covered that one)

Re:exploder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9555415)

What's a "nucular power planet"? Sounds like a big, spelling-challenged plutonium-powered Death Star.

Whatever it is, I want one.

Re:exploder (1)

msoftsucks (604691) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556386)

Nuclear power plants have already been affected by Micro$hit's crappy software. Take a look at this link [securityfocus.com] for more details. Basically, the monitoring system was taken offline due to Blaster. Luckily, a meltdown didn't occur, but we may not be so fortunate in the future. Do we really want Micro$hit software running these plants? Ask yourself, would you live next to one of these plants?

Re:exploder (1)

rjh (40933) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556805)

Luckily, a meltdown didn't occur, but we may not be so fortunate in the future.
U.S. reactors literally cannot go Chernobyl in the event of failure. Once the temperature rises to the point where the moderating system is destroyed, the reaction shuts down since it can't take place without the moderating system. This is called a "negative void coefficient", and is an essential part of every Western design.

The RBMK reactor used in Chernobyl had a positive void coefficient. When they lost moderation, the reactor went runaway.

Next time you say "luckily, a meltdown didn't occur", please learn enough about the reactors in use in the West to be able to tell us what sort of failure could cause a meltdown to occur.

Your point is a good one; but the "luckily, a meltdown didn't occur" just sets off my nuclear-power-paranoia sensor.

Re:exploder (2, Insightful)

itwerx (165526) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556959)

U.S. reactors literally cannot go Chernobyl in the event of failure.

Even Chernobyl wouldn't have gone Chernobyl if the stupid bastards running the plant hadn't disabled all the safeties and forced it into that state. [elon.edu]

Link above is from a Google search so here's the cache link [66.102.7.104] as well.

Re:exploder (1)

rjh (40933) | more than 10 years ago | (#9557013)

And if it had been built with a containment dome, the leak would've been contained. Simulations done in the US after the fact (both computer and with scale models) showed that a containment dome built to US standards could contain three times the explosive force of Chernobyl without a rupture.

Re:exploder (3, Insightful)

Scottarius (248487) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555246)

very true. But I would assume (or at least hope) that servers that control systems that could mean a life or death situation if they fail would be monitored much more closely with more failsafes than your average web server.

Which brings up an interesting questions. Does it matter as much what caused the malfunction as how you were using it when it happened? Say I'm driving my car 130mph down the freeway when a faulty tie-rod end breaks causing me to carom around the freeway createing a 20 car pile up. Who's to blame? Me or the manufacturer of the faulty tie-rod end?

I would think the same thing applies to server software, if your using it irresponsibly when it's being used in a life or death situation and you don't take the necessary precautions just in case of a failure, who is really at fault?

Now if a serious fault in Microsoft software caused a train to kill a bus load of nuns, i'm sure a lawsuit could be filed against Microsoft. Weither or not it could be won I have no clue, i'm not a lawyer.

Re:exploder (1)

FreeForm Response (218015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556027)

No, but it might nuke people. [vt.edu]

management (1, Informative)

gyratedotorg (545872) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555048)

Well now that they've charged you all this money they leave [their] software open to viruses and exploits beyond belief, which will cost your company even more money.

you're preaching to the choir here. tell it to the stupid old men in upper management who decide how your company spends/wastes its money.

Re:management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9555113)

Our company refuses to purchase adaware, yet spends millions on windows. We haven't got the budget apparently, yet we can manage to put 400 people up in a hotel for a "touchy feely shindig". We are replacing linux DHCP servers with windows 2003 ones too.

All software makers should be held liable (1)

adam mcmaster (697132) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555065)

At least, the makers of proprietary software should be (not just Microsoft specifically), since if you can see the source you can check it yourself so it's as much your fault if it goes wrong.

As an example of why software makers should be held liable, imagine a nuclear power plant being run by some OS. Now imagine that OS has a bug which causes it to crash if certain conditions are met. Now imagine those conditions are met one day, causing the cooling system in the reactor to stop working as it should. I think we all know what happens next...

Re:All software makers should be held liable (3, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555245)

causing the cooling system in the reactor to stop working as it should. I think we all know what happens next...

The fuses melt, the rods drop and the reactor is disabled.

Nuclear power plant desingers justifiably have a belt and braces approach to things. This also applies to the software. They are not going to be running Windows. I suspect they'll not run Linux either. Neither are anywhere near reliable enough.

Re:All software makers should be held liable (4, Insightful)

secolactico (519805) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555376)


As an example of why software makers should be held liable, imagine a nuclear power plant being run by some OS. Now imagine that OS has a bug which causes it to crash if certain conditions are met. Now imagine those conditions are met one day, causing the cooling system in the reactor to stop working as it should. I think we all know what happens next...


Which is why Microsoft forbids the use of MS software for such mission critical apps.

If you need an OS to run a nuclear plant, you'll have it custom made, by someone who can be held liable and who'll probably provide the source.

Re:All software makers should be held liable (1)

slittle (4150) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555595)

There are nuclear plants running Windows (use Google). They're just used for non-critical or redundant purposes, and usually on a private network. Of course, private networks don't help if you fuck up your firewall or you let any old contractors plug their laptops in...

About that nuclear plant (1)

ReKleSS (749007) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556002)

This has been discussed before, in the thread about the release of QNX 6.3. The people who run nuclear plants usually end running software that's not meant to be used in such situations anyway - the clause is more about liability than anything else. Also, the safety aspect of nuclear reactors are controlled by nothing more than a few analog gauges, to ensure best chance of surviving a failure. The OS used for monitoring can be just about anything. The thread is here [slashdot.org] .
-ReK

They should be liable (3, Insightful)

kommakazi (610098) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555069)

EULA's shouldn't be able to take away a consumer's basic rights as many basically do these days. If you buy a product you expect it to work as advertised and not be defective. It seems only software companies are able to get away with selling defective products by tacking on long EULA's to them. Why don't car companies tack EULA's onto their vehicles saying if it's defective, you're SOL? Because nobody would put up with it, they'd go find another car without one. Nobody would put up with that on about any other product except software. I strongly agree people should stop letting software companies shove defective software down their throats. I say people challenge EULA's at all *reasonable* opportunity... EULA's should simply be an agreement that you're not going to reverse engineer their product or distribute it illegally and such....not forcing you into agreeing that the software is probably defective and that you're going to be the one paying out your ass for it.

Re:They should be liable (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555369)

Because someone like Ralph Nadar emerged and made the automobile companies institute the lemon laws in the first places.

Re:They should be liable (2, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556166)

"It seems only software companies are able to get away with selling defective products by tacking on long EULA's to them."

Duh. They get away with it because they cannot guarantee the environment in which the software is run. Do you think your car would have a stellar warranty if there were no roads?

Re:They should be liable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9556878)

you are telling me all roads, speed limits and ever other factor that comes into driving is all pretty basic.

not so much.

there is a difference between bad code, and code not expecting the different possibilities of configs.

if your wheel fell off the second you touched gravel, i dont see how that is anything but a lemon.

Re:They should be liable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9557061)

Actually, if the software doesn't work as agreed upon, there is no contract to build a EULA on. It would be Microsoft's bad faith.

But on the other hand, the EULA being under shrink wrap and not available at time of purchase already goes against the entire sum and history of legal tradition. You can't have a contract where only one party knows what it is.

Which brings us to why I detest Microsoft. Software should be considered sold as it actually is. There should not be attempts to gain unfair advantage by changing our legal system for the benefit of one man or company.
Sold, not licensed, copyrighted, not patented, and defective product laws apply like any other product.

Because it would be bad for everyone... (4, Interesting)

Dimwit (36756) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555101)

If software had to live up to safety standards the same way physical products did, the authors of the software could be sued just like the makers of the physical products.

"But that's great!" you say. "Microsoft could be sued until they were just bits of blackened rubble!"

Yes, that would be wonderful.

Now, what about the floating-point exception handler bug in Linux? Well, looks like we'd have to sue Linus et al.

I'd be willing to bet that Microsoft would take a lot longer to reduce to rubble than Linus and his ragtag crew of happy software authors.

Even if you limit it only to software that's charged for, well, then, good bye RedHat. Ditto Mandrake. Bye SuSe. It's all over.

Basically, if the authors could be sued, then there would be no software industry.

I know the question was also asking why they couldn't be sued for allowing viruses in. Well, why can't Ford be sued for letting me drive my car on roads? There are *wrecks* on roads! What is Ford thinking??

The point of this whole rant is: Software is far, far to complex to be held to the same standards as physical products. Mankind has been making physical products for around 200,000 years now (if not more). We've been making software for 50. Let's wait until we have the same kind of experience making these products before we hold them to the same standard.

Re:Because it would be bad for everyone... (0, Redundant)

KilobyteKnight (91023) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555172)


I'd be willing to bet that Microsoft would take a lot longer to reduce to rubble than Linus and his ragtag crew of happy software authors.

I wish I hadn't wasted my moderator points earlier today, or I would have modded this up. Thank you for pointing these things out (and saving me the time).

Re:Because it would be bad for everyone... (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555280)

Now, what about the floating-point exception handler bug in Linux?

But how much did this particular bug cost the industry? This would be the maximum liability. And obviously only the vendors would be liable; They're the ones selling it as a working OS suitable for certain purposes. There is only an implicit warrenty once you charge for it.

Re:Because it would be bad for everyone... (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556162)

But how much did this particular bug cost the industry? This would be the maximum liability.

I have a couple of problems with this metric:
1. First of all, these numbers are always inflated. Do you really believe that worm X cost the industry $2.5 bil? Those are numbers that are calculated using estimates like the average amount of time lost per employee, or an average of how long it took to recover from it. These numbers are multiplied by other estimated numbers (number of companies out there * number of employees) and BLAMMO...there's your number. Alright -- I figure that they put a little more math into it than that, but the point is that the numbers are grossly inflated.

2. How do you determine who gets what money? Does every company get a check for $50? Do larger companies get a bigger check? Do companies who hire a really good IT group that set up a network to prevent these things get nothing then? Is that really fair since they spent the money to take care of these things? ...or are you happy as long as a company (or industry) that you don't like gets money taken from them?

There is only an implicit warrenty once you charge for it.

Yeah, there's an implicit warranty. However, if your TV breaks -- you can take it back to Sony to get yours fixed (or get a new one). It doesn't mean that you can sue Sony for lost TV-watching time. If our Toyotas break, we can take it back for repairs. Under Lemon Laws, we can get our money back. It does not mean that we get to sue anyone unless we can prove negligance that resulted in injury or death. Not lost productivity ("I didn't make it to work so I'm suing for my salary" doesn't work). Also, if you're talking about liability -- liability doesn't begin and end with a sold, commodited product. If I made a car for you and gave it to you for free and it was inherently unsafe -- I'm liable for negligence, especially if I was aware of the unsafe condition that I created. In this case, free doesn't excuse anything when it comes to the standard that you're holding commercial software to.

Re:Because it would be bad for everyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9556443)

Regarding #2:

50% should go to the lawyers
50% should go to the government.

This would insure that those creating software full of holes will be sued.

Re:Because it would be bad for everyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9555613)

The point of this whole rant is: Software is far, far to complex to be held to the same standards as physical products. Mankind has been making physical products for around 200,000 years now (if not more). We've been making software for 50. Let's wait until we have the same kind of experience making these products before we hold them to the same standard.

OHHH, now I understand. We've had matter since the beginning of time, so it's perfectly defined and understood...but we've only had logic since last week or so, thus it's still abstract and unexplored.

Software is not complicated. A tiny UNIX-like kernel is nothing compared to the CPU it runs on. The fact that we've had rocks sitting around since the earth cooled has nothing to do with it. The problem with software is that it's too easy. Anyone can sit down for an afternoon or weekend and write a little program, post it to the internet and have a few thousand people use it...and if it fails, NOBODY CARES. A multibillion-dollar company with only a few thousand programmers can write a huge bloated OS that 90% of the world pays them exhorbitant prices for...and if it fails, NOBODY CARES.

In most cases, there's just not enough money to spend anywhere near the development resources on software that you would on anything else. It can be written so quickly that even giving it a few test runs before you ship presents a significant overhead, and nobody wants to pay. Because if it fails, NOBODY CARES.

Re:Because it would be bad for everyone... (1)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556730)

On the "software is not complicated" comment:
Lets compare to building a bridge. A bridge is composed of i-beams, cables, bolts, straps, asphalt, etc. Now, lets say if there is paint pealing on the bridge. That doesn't cause it to collapse. Also, lets say if one of the bolts had internal fractures due to manufacturing. There are many thousands of bolts in that bridge. One of them failing isn't going to bring it down. And if one bad bolt can cause it to fail, then it wasn't engineered properly to begin with.

Now, with software, a tiny flaw in even the most trivial program can cause it to fail, depending on how you define "fail". There really aren't that many ways to over-engineer an application to withstand failure of any one component (in the bridge example, you can specify the use of 20% redundant bolts, for example). In some cases, you can put in redundant checks, but if you do that everywhere then the software looses performance.
Think of the software that controlls the Space Shuttle. It is run on multiple processors, and has multiple independant implimentations and runs through a voting circuit. But this isn't practicle for your average desktop environment. No one is willing to pay a million dollars per copy of a word processor or spreadsheet application (which is what it would cost if they were written to sei level 5 specs that the shuttle software is written to). And even then, it still isn't as fail-safe as the 20% redundancy in the bridge example.

Re:Because it would be bad for everyone... (1)

HeyLaughingBoy (182206) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555986)

Let's wait until we have the same kind of experience making these products before we hold them to the same standard.

Well, by that logic no one should sue aircraft manufacturers either, as airplanes have only been made for about 100 years. But yet it happens.
You can't cop out of liability by saying "my product is too complex for me to build properly." That's crap and you know it.

If it can cause the same kind of damage as a physical product, then it should have the same liability as a physical product.

If your word processor crashes and you lose all your work, it's unlikely that a lawsuit will recover enough in the way of damages for it to be worthwhile. When the fuel management computer in your airplane causes a fire and kills passengers, you bet your ass there will be lawsuits flying.

Re:Because it would be bad for everyone... (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556433)

While I can definitely understand why software developers want to disclaim liability, it has always puzzled me as to why they want to also disclaim something so basic as merchantibility.

Disclaiming merchantibility is nothing more than giving yourself a license to lie. If you can't even stoop to giving the customer's money back for a defective product you shouldn't be in business.

All commercial software should be merchantable. That's the very definition of "commercial" for pete's sake!

Isn't this important to open source as well? (1)

metacosm (45796) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555114)

Isn't a License Agreement what protects the developers of GPL'ed software from being sued as well.

Given, the GPL is not a EULA (End User License Agreement) -- the GPL only takes effect if you modify or distribute the application -- it still seems if it was tested and failed in court, it could have a big impact on OSS.

What do you think?

Re:Isn't this important to open source as well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9555256)

The difference: The GPL giveth, whereas a EULA taketh away.

Re:Isn't this important to open source as well? (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555311)

It's been discussed before.

The prevailing wisdom is that the GPL only grants rights. It doesn't take them away. Hence if it was ruled invalid, anyone who distributed GPL software would be guilty of copyright infringement.

For much the same reason, it is quite unlikely that all clauses in an EULA would be invalidated. The part that permits you to install it on a machine would have to remain valid.

Re:Isn't this important to open source as well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9555385)

The prevaling wisdom fails to take into account that the GPL need not be upheld or overturned in its entirety, a court has the power to strike-out any portion if it believes there is a legal justification for doing so.

Re:Isn't this important to open source as well? (2, Informative)

spitzak (4019) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555678)

I believe the "NO WARRANTY" stuff is unrelated to the GPL. You will find identical wording on commercial, BSD, and public domain software, and on sample code distributed with closed programming environments. Whether this is valid or not is probably unrelated to whether the GPL works or not.

My opinion is that if software writers were liable for damages it would be the end of the software industry, including open source. Microsoft may last the longest but even it would be destroyed by litigation. All software would have to be written by people who keep their identities secret. I guess it would be open source, but you would lose the ability to be publicly known as the author of it, and there would be no clear way to communicate fixes back to the author.

Re:Isn't this important to open source as well? (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556132)

It would have a big impact, but not in the way you think. Copyright would revert back to whoever originally wrote the code, so an author of some code in the linux kernel could decide to remove it. Microsoft wouldn't be able to embrace and extend though.

I dont see how the license would fail though.

Well (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555117)

Any attack on click-through licensing means that open source software is more open to the same legal punishments. If someone found a disasterous bug in Linux, would people have a right to sue Linux,OSDL, etc.? I bloody hope not.

Now the problem is that companies buying software don't require full guarantees. If the DOD says this software must be perfect, then its the onus on the Seller to supply that guarantee.

This allows for open source companies to guarantee software without forcing every Linux distributor to get hit with the lawsuits.

Re:Well (1)

carrus85 (727188) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555537)

I think that most of us are forgetting some of the major arguments to this issue. It isn't so much that windows is released with flaws, it is that they cannot release enough support patches to fix those flaws. The beauty of linux is if someone finds a flaw, you quickly fix it, generate a patch, patch your system, and BAM! Problem fixed. Windows just doesn't have this same capability.

People don't mind having a few glitches in their software, as long as there are fixes provided for those glitches in due time, and without cost considering they bought your product in good faith. This is where Microsoft falters; they provide patches, but what do they really do? Do they fix blue screens of death? Some, yes. But are they fixing what the user-base wants to see fixed? I think not.

Besides, it is very, very hard for linux to be sued, where microsoft could be sued very easily. Linux is separated into several smaller projects, while windows is one gigantic project. It is easier to hit the large target than spend attorney's fees on sueing 900 smaller companies-- Strength lies in numbers. Besides, as long as you can get a timely fix to your product, people are not going to sue you; the converse will happen. People will realize that you hear their calls for help and actually act (gasp) on their comments. Just make sure users know that not EVERY SINGLE FUNCTIONAL WHIM of the user is going to be implemented, but at least give them the benifit of making your software better at no cost, considering they paid for it. (Or you could do the converse approach, give away a basic version of the software, and sell support and upgrades.)

This is ridiculous (4, Insightful)

torinth (216077) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555127)

When desktop and corporate customers are willing to wait 10 years for products that incorporate new technology, we can talk.

Microsoft is being no more negligent than their competitors would be. Businesses recognize the risk of using Microsoft, Apple, Sun, third-party or OSS software, and balance that against their need to actually use recent innovations. The end result, a fast life-cycle on development and rather unreliable products. Businesses suffer losses when software is compromised, but that's built into the cost of getting software years before it could be released otherwise.

If consumer advocacy laws applied to software development right now, you'd see innovation plummet. What few developers that would bother with top-notch reliability (which is comparitively boring) would still take years to create something after the idea was publically announced.

Meanwhile, some black market developers would create the same function in some illegal and wholly unsupported product, but businesses would buy it up like crazy.

The reason that these kinds of regulations are important with cars and pharmaceuticals is that these industries put people at risk to their lives. A flaw in a car will kill people. A flaw in software will cost a company some money, but is a threat that can be overcome through market practices. The company insures against damage, pays a premium, and gets reimbursed on loss. Nobody dies. Big fricking deal.

Businesses where reliability does matter (i.e. infrastructure and medical projects) go further and independently make sure they only use software that has gone through the ropes. This software tends to evolve more slowly, or else has a disproportionate amount of money thrown against it to speed things up.

Re:This is ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9556169)

While I agree that no one wants to open the door for litigation for every blue-screen-of-death, I think that people are minimizing the importance of software in our lives. What do you think is flying that Delta plane? Every component of a new car is run by software. Think about hospitals. Software has become critical, and people do not even think about it.

Re:This is ridiculous (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556217)

" I think that people are minimizing the importance of software in our lives. What do you think is flying that Delta plane? Every component of a new car is run by software. Think about hospitals. Software has become critical, and people do not even think about it."

The diffrence is that the software you speak of is running on a controlled environment. So long as your plane isn't expected to run Solitaire on a whim, it stands to reason that Delta (Boeing?) can reasonably guarantee its safety.

Re:This is ridiculous (1)

torinth (216077) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556417)

I admitted to that. But the Delta plane isn't running XP, or at least not some run of the mill version. Rather than a $89 user license, Boeing and Airbus invest millions of dollars into software that takes years to test and develop.

Same goes for the car. More developers work on smaller blocks of code with more failsafe techniques. This costs more money and takes more time, but is something that's necessary for that specific industry.

The reliability of consumer and corporate software is not that important to our lives. in those specialized industries where it is more important, they invest more time and money to make sure it works.

Re:This is ridiculous (1)

msoftsucks (604691) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556544)

Here's what happens when manufactures use Micro$hit's [com.com] software in their products. BMW decided to use M$ Windows CE in their new 745i car. These cars are total lemons. Software for real-life devices needs to have much more reliability than what M$ can provide.

Re:This is ridiculous (1)

Prior Restraint (179698) | more than 10 years ago | (#9557048)

When desktop and corporate customers are willing to wait 10 years for products that incorporate new technology, we can talk.

Heh. I love it. Imagine Corporate America suddenly demanding Microsoft offer support contracts for Windows for Workgroups 3.11 running on MS-DOS 6.22 (the best they had for sale as of June 28, 1994, according to Windows History [levenez.com] ).

Liability For Software Bad (1, Informative)

fozzmeister (160968) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555216)

How can I as a software developer take responsibility for loses when i use libraries etc that wont? oh and it would kill oss, you could say this code is just text that happens to compile, but unless everyone compiles thier own software, it'd never work.

Re:Liability For Software Bad (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555261)

One could easily make a case that if you have to take responsibility for losses and you can prove the bug is in a library, you can pass the buck in discovery on up to the company that made the library.

Not very likely (1)

hdparm (575302) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555388)

Consumer protection laws, as I understand the situation, do not quite cover end user. Ownership transfer isn't taking place - end user signs EULA to get a grant to use someone elses product, in this case Microsoft's.

I'd rather be willing to explore the possibilities to sue people who make decisions to license half-assed products, waste additional money on AV software and man hours to keep holes closed, employ incompetent administrators which results in wasting everybody's money and time when Internet links get totally clogged and so on.

I can't see it happening thou. Those same people are FUD masters as well - if they are not, how else would they justify decisions to pay for Windows to whoever approves spending?

The difference between cars and Windows... (1)

lunarscape (704562) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555420)

When you go buy a car, you expect it to not break. When you go buy Windows, you know it will break. Would you go buy a car with breaks you know will fail while you're out driving?

Re:The difference between cars and Windows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9555563)

I can only conclude that either the answer to your last question is YES or something's wrong with your logic or analogy.

Think of it like a car. (4, Insightful)

man_ls (248470) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555435)

Think of it like a car.

My 1998 Honda had a problem with the ignition that, if a certain combination of environmental factors, driving habits, and the phases of the moon and planets all combined correctly, the contacts would corrode under the extreme voltage and cut power to the engine while in operation. Their response: Take the car to a dealer to have the ignition switch replaced free of charge.

I.e.: This otherwise safe and well designed car has a small flaw that under certain conditions may manifest itself in a potentially annoying to potentially dangerous way, depending on what you are doing.

Now, let's pretend it is a computer.

Your well-engineered and hardened security Windows 2003 Server system has a flaw in a protocol parser that allows, with the right combination of messsages, someone to cause code to be executed on your system.

In other words: This otherwise safe and well designed server operating system has a flaw which, depending on several factors, may manifest itself in an annoying or dangerous way.

Any complex system is going to have problems with it. Millions of lines of code, or hundreds of thousands of moving or conductive parts, each can have something fail if there's a tiny problem with it.

Microsoft releases their fixes free of charge, just like a dealer service recall on an automobile.

What's the problem here? You can eliminate 95% of these vaunerabilities by simply *not running without a firewall* and *not running unneeded services* which is (GASP) something you'd do on Linux as well. Linux is just as vaunerable if it's sitting open and unprotected on a network with 500 services running as root. Would you do that? No. So why do you do it with a Windows box?

If it's because Windows is more of a "turn-key" solution, and the user doesn't think to secure their box, it's not Microsoft's fault, the blame rests surely in USER ERROR.

Re:Think of it like a car. (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555666)

I agree with you, but to go even further:

The Honda problem didn't require any deliberate evil intent on the part of a third party to create it, but exploiting the OS vulnerability did.

It wouldn't work (4, Insightful)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555579)

There is software that provides these kinds of guarantees... Problem is the guarantee is almost worthless.

Lets first talk about supported hardware configurations.

Before I would allow certain liabilities like this, I would require a given supported configuration. Lets say something like a Pentium 4 processor running at 3Ghz - without HyperThreading, A Chipset, a single graphics card (make it old too), a single hard disk from one manufacturer - the list goes on (well in reality - the list doesn't go on). Your hardware isn't in the supported configuration (You did buy directly from Dell didn't you ?) forget the support, it isn't a tested and qualified system.

Software configuration

You weren't going to install ANY other software on your system, other than mine... How do I know that THAT software didn't cause the problem - so nix any software purchases - or that will void the warantee as well.

So basically you end up with a supported system, that is completely useless. Not much fun at all. And you WANT to have this happen by getting lawyers involved ?

God, I hope so! (1)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555628)

It would be a real killer for software in general if developers were liable for damages caused from malfunctioning code. Therefore, licenses that disclaim warranties are really important.

If there were enough demand for it, you'd expect software companies that are developing for pay to warranty their code. This would be one area where they could clearly outperform free-beer software! But I don't think such demand is very high, except in certain niche industries (defense, transportation, etc. although I think we'd be kidding ourselves if we thought that these areas are much better off than regular consumer/business software.)

Anyway, this really has nothing to do with Microsoft -- lord knows that there are and have been plenty of bad bugs in non-Microsoft software. (Even "open source" software!)

This would totally kill the software industry (2, Insightful)

wayne606 (211893) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555815)

Ever check how much doctors pay for malpractice insurance? It's in the 6 digits for some specialties. Just think what would happen when small software companies start getting sued because of bugs in their code that lead to others making expensive mistakes. Lots of companies would be driven out of business and the only ones that would be left standing would be the ones with the deepest pockets, i.e. Microsoft. Then they would say "we are paying out all these huge damage awards, so we have to raise the base price on windows to $1000 / copy".

Maybe that's a bit extreme. Seriously, software is way more complex than a car. Who among you would bet your entire net worth that you haven't shipped code with potentially serious bugs in it? There are always bugs.

Maybe a mandatory "your money back if you aren't satisfied" law would fly. But 99% of the people who take advantage of that offer are going to keep a backup copy of the software, "just in case" ...

This idea could never get past the unanimous opposition of every company in the software industry. Just live with it - software has bugs. If you don't like it switch to another package or just go back to pencil and paper.

Re:This would totally kill the software industry (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556659)

Maybe that's a bit extreme. Seriously, software is way more complex than a car. Who among you would bet your entire net worth that you haven't shipped code with potentially serious bugs in it? There are always bugs.

I only have a little experience with the design of cars, I can't accurately judge your claim of complexity. But remember that cars are only about 40 years older than computers but are a far more understood beast than software. Automotive and mechanical engineers know where to expect things to break. Its a straightforward application of physics struggling against cost. The greatest pressure facing automobile designers is entropy. Your engine slowly corrodes, and parts wear. They search for ways to slow these forces, build prototypes, and measure the test results.

On the other hand software failures are relatively unknown. You can point to buffer overflows and be half-right. But those are just security vulnerabilities. Not to diminish their severity or importantce, but they're just one kind of software failure. The nature of software failures is largely one of human error. Surely bits flip on occasion, and drives fail, but there are reportedly few occasions where this has happened and then led to failure. Sometimes software just yields inaccurate results, maybe calculating estimate with the wrong formula and the consulant wins with a considerable underbid. Enough to short him the last two year's revenue.

Part of the problem is that software has a high degree of context. Maybe you won't trigger a certain bug if you use the keyboard as a method of input rather than the mouse. Perhaps a bug is hidden within a sub dialog box. You can't just take a piece of software out on the road, make a left turn, a right turn, test the lights and call it good. To extend the analogy, there's a possiblity in software that when your left blinker is on, you can't make right turns. There's hardly a way for that to happen with your car, but software interconnects so vaguely it might.

I don't particularly like the idea of living with software written by people who don't understand why their software fails, or how they intend to prevent future bugs of a similar nature, or follow through to see how their efforts to alleviate the problem have worked. I agree that it's difficult, but I don't expect the design of a rotational engine to be a cake walk either.

Oil change (4, Insightful)

jptechnical (644454) | more than 10 years ago | (#9555901)

You don't expect a car dealership to be liable if your engine siezes because you never changed the oil.

The patches and exploits are handled as they arise and if you keep up with the maintenance than you wont suffer catastrophic failure.

Sure this is a bit of a stretch but you have to take some damn responsibility. You can't blame MS for all your woes.

They make a good product that keeps the majority on the road. Every generation has new features and new flaws. The fact is the flaws are publicized and you have an opportunity to patch them.

The time and money spent is part of the upkeep. It is like oil in an engine... if you never maintain it it will fail. It will leave you stranded and up a creek with a very expensive repair.

However, when maintained you get acceptable operation.

Quit your mindless bitching! Blame the Virus Writers for writing the viruses. Patch your system be it MS, *nix or whatever. Take some damn responsibility and stop blaming everyone else.

djb's take on EULAs (2, Insightful)

_iris (92554) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556000)

DJB seems to favor the consumer [cr.yp.to] in the EULA debate.

It's not a lemon, it's a program (1)

dacarr (562277) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556047)

If this were the case, you could sue $developer for $foss_project.

Why is this so misunderstood? (2, Insightful)

rjh (40933) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556749)

If this were the case, you could sue $developer for $foss_project.
Why is this so misunderstood? Why is legal "analysis" like the preceding accepted as unquestioned fact?

Here's the thing. Well, here are the things--there are two of them.
  1. $developer can be sued for $foss_project today. You can be sued for eating a ham sandwich. You can be sued for putting a detailed account of felonies [sixdemonbag.org] on your webpage. The only way to be lawsuit-proof is to die, and even then, your estate can be sued.

    So this entire "software needs to be without liability, because otherwise we could be sued!" is nonsense. We can already be sued. What can't happen, at least assuming EULAs are valid and we're all using a EULA that disclaims liability, is we can't be sued successfully. And even if EULAs are held invalid and software liability becomes the rule, we're still not likely to be sued. Read on.
  2. If I tell you "hey, I wrote this, and I'm giving it to you for free without any reciprocation from you, but I'm not making any guarantees it'll work," that's a boatload different in the eyes of the law from me telling you "hey, I wrote this, and for $10,000 and the souls of your children I'll let you use it, but I'm not making any guarantees it'll work".
Have you ever heard of Good Samaritan laws? Some state legislatures got tired of hearing of frivolous lawsuits filed against people who came onto the scene of an accident, gave emergency care in good faith and for no cost at all, only to have the person whose life they saved turn around and slap them with a malpractice suit. This was considered to be so beyond the pale that both the courts, via common law, and the legislatures, via statute law, moved to smack it down.

If software finally becomes subject to the same requirements of any other manufactured good, we're going to see commercial software companies (like Microsoft, Oracle, Red Hat, Novell, etc.) spending a lot of money doing bughunting, bugfixing, and documenting failures; and we're going to see both common and statute law exempting no- or low-cost free software from software liability.

Choose your evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9556142)

Microsoft software or law suit abuse. It would not stop with Microsoft. It may involve other companies and even free software. If MS's liability disclaimer is invalid, so would be the one in free software.

And am I the only one to point out that this article is stupid and with no redeeming quality? First of all, it tries to apply a legal term to software that doesn't really apply to software. Next, it's a blatant, biased attack against a single company, like they are the only ones who ever published bad software.

Third, lemon law says you can get your money back. Guess what, you can get a refund on your software.

Try it! (3, Interesting)

bluGill (862) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556272)

At least in the US anyone can sue anyone for anything. Winning however is difficult. Still, if you think you have a case call a lawyer and present it. If you really do have one, lawyers are good at filling in the details. Details like perhaps lemons laws are not the right path in your state where some other law is better.

Warning: not anyone can win a lawsuit. And you can be counter sued. Still slashdot is not the place to ask, most of us (such as me) are not lawyers, so we aren't aware of everything.

Even if EULAs are valid (which as others have noted is not tested), nearly all states will not allow you to sign away some rights. Might help you in itself. (if nothing else why test the EULA if the clause they are using isn't valid in your state)

There is one more downside: you have to deal with lawyers. No matter how evil you call Microsoft, lawyers are worse! Only sue if it is really worth it.

FTC Heard Arguments on This (4, Insightful)

lkaos (187507) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556348)

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/warranty/

97 comments were filed publicly. Everyone from RMS [ftc.gov] to IEEE [ftc.gov] to, well, me [ftc.gov] .

Basically, software warranties would make Free Software illegal. The model wouldn't work if we were held to quality expectations. Read the comments to educate yourself.

lemons (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9556638)

Yesterday : If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

Today : If life hands you lemons, sue the bitch.

Defective products (1)

satterth (464480) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556654)

Ford, Chevy, and all other car manufactures get held liable if they make a defective product, why not Microsoft?
Most likely because when Microsoft makes a defective product people don't die.

Two ways (1)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556666)

There are two ways to look at this, and trust me, they're being looked at.

What this is all about is whether Microsoft is really costing people money or not. Why would Microsoft cost you money? Because you *had* to install or use their often defective products. Because you had no choice. So, two ways to look at it.

1) You have no choice. Linux simply doesn't do what Windows can. I don't agree with this but then this is what the parent is suggesting. Is the open source community letting us down? Besides, since we have no choice but to use Windows (and they are legally recognised as having a monopoly), we can already see that the DoJ has forced remedy on them for the whole antitrust thing. So the clear course of action is to take them to court.

2) You do have a choice. You can install Linux or BSD. These operating systems do most of the same things Windows does, and cheaper. Now, what if there is a bug in Linux. That would mean that, in theory, Linux should also be applicable to the Lemon Law, and you should be able to sue the provider/author, in the case of a bug. Now, Linux is floating around the version 2.8.x area. Surely some of the fixes between 1.0 and 2.8.x were bug fixes? In which case we have to accept that Linux may still have flaws, which although less than Windows ones, still makes Linux and OS developers fair game for Lemon Law litigation, which they can ill afford compared with MS.

What about the responsible developers? (1)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 10 years ago | (#9556804)

Some developers use license agreements which specifically state that the software *is* guaranteed to perform a particular function to a certain standard.

Have any of those developers been sued for bugs or defects?

Or is it the case that those developers do genuinely work to produce quality software while, as one might assume, the ones who disclaim all warranties are the ones who produce faulty products?

Micro$C0ft iz th4 suxx0rz!!!!111 (1, Troll)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 10 years ago | (#9557102)

Let's write to Congress and suggest a law covering necessary commercial software--that is:
  • Software that costs, say, $40.00 or more to license,
  • does NOT fall under a free/open compliant license, making it possible for the user to audit the code WITHOUT paying additional fees for access to a human-readable, non-shrouded copy of the code,
  • and which is required for the performance of personal or business goals.
It would NOT cover software selling for less than $40.00, and would NOT cover strictly frivolous and unnecessary software such as games, pr0n software, purely eye-candy software, and other things not necessary to earn one's living or to generate business revenues. (Yeah yeah, game testers, but the definition of a software tester is one who takes the risk of losing data or opening oneself up to security flaws in the testing of software, so that would not apply either.) It would not cover scripts or other code that is human readable. It would not cover software used under a license provided for evaluation, such as a shareware license, or try-before-you-buy, when the damage occured before licensing said software for the $40.00 or more license fee. Basically use your common sense and figure out what I'm trying to say here.

Microsoft and all the other vendors out there would be forced to either:

  1. Reduce the price of their software to $39.95, or...
  2. Make their software bulletproof to avoid getting the shit sued out of them.
Of course, you'd have to prove actual damages, and that the software in question is at fault for the damage--that is, that the damage would not have occured but for the existance of a flaw in the software. So if your RAM is fucked and a bit goes stray and the damn thing writes over your database because of that, you're fucked, not the software maker.

Now, how in the fuck do you avoid frivolous lawsuits? Hmmmm... Maybe just make the law apply to Microsoft and to nobody else.

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