Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 7th Mar 2011 23:21 UTC
Legal Well, how about some positive news to end this day? How about annoying the heck out of the Business Software Alliance? There's a new proposal for a directive on consumer rights in the EU, and in it, digital goods - software, online services, and so on - are explicitly defined as goods that are no different than any other good - like bread, watches, or cars. In other words, you would suddenly own the copies of software you buy, effectively declaring the EULA as a worthless piece of paper. Surprise - the BSA is not happy about this.
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Let me be the first to say
by WereCatf on Mon 7th Mar 2011 23:50 UTC
WereCatf
Member since:
2006-02-15

WOOHOO!

Reply Score: 9

RE: Let me be the first to say
by Sauron on Tue 8th Mar 2011 00:14 UTC in reply to "Let me be the first to say"
Sauron Member since:
2005-08-02

Right on, I second that! Will also be a poke in the eye for Sony if this gets passed, (and other asshat companies too). About time I say! ;)

Reply Score: 4

Um, I disagree
by tomcat on Tue 8th Mar 2011 00:16 UTC
tomcat
Member since:
2006-01-06

Software *is* unlike a physical good. For one thing, you can duplicate software for essentially zero cost. Second, you don't have to worry about compatibility with bread. Or shoes. Software components are infinitely more complex than your average physical good, and their interactions can cause unintended/unanticipated/unreasonable problems for the original software developer. Example: a plug-in crashes the browser. Who's at fault? The plug-in -- or the browser? It isn't clear how EU regulation would distinguish liability between the two components. On the one hand, the plug-in literally caused the crash. But that crash is manifested in the browser, and you could argue that it needs to defend itself against poor or malicious programming.

So, what does that mean for you, as a software developer? Answer: It isn't clear. It could make life a lot worse. You might have to deal with a lot more regulatory BS and barriers to distribution than before. Which might reduce your incentive to distribute software in the EU. Which might result in less choice for consumers, in the long run.

I understand that regulation could also result in better software. But let's just understand that no regulation is completely benign. There will be costs for devs.

Edited 2011-03-08 00:18 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Um, I disagree
by Delgarde on Tue 8th Mar 2011 00:32 UTC in reply to "Um, I disagree"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

Software components are infinitely more complex than your average physical good, and their interactions can cause unintended/unanticipated/unreasonable problems for the original software developer. Example: a plug-in crashes the browser. Who's at fault? The plug-in -- or the browser? It isn't clear how EU regulation would distinguish liability between the two components. On the one hand, the plug-in literally caused the crash. But that crash is manifested in the browser, and you could argue that it needs to defend itself against poor or malicious programming.


Not unique to software, except maybe in degree. The same is true of stuff like car accessories - stick new wheels or a big spoiler on your car, and you're no longer dealing with a configuration the car manufacturer tested. If the car then crashes because the larger tyres rub on some part of the wheel arch, who's liable? Should the car manufacturer have tested larger wheels, because their customer base were likely to fit them?


So, what does that mean for you, as a software developer? Answer: It isn't clear. It could make life a lot worse. You might have to deal with a lot more regulatory BS and barriers to distribution than before. Which might reduce your incentive to distribute software in the EU. Which might result in less choice for consumers, in the long run.


Yeah, that's my thinking too - it introduces a whole heap of new rules and potential liabilities. It's not necessarily bad, but it's a big change, full of potential surprises.

Reply Score: 8

RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by computrius on Tue 8th Mar 2011 13:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
computrius Member since:
2006-03-26

People keep posing these questions as if they are some mystical unanswerable wisdom questions.

"Who's at fault? The plug-in -- or the browser?"

Whichever one is causing the problem. Thats what developers and debugging is for.

This problem exists already anyway. Your developing an app with .net and something throws an exception. Well good luck convincing microsoft it's them and not your software. Though 99.999% of the time is isnt the .net framework. Even if it is the .net framework, you do your best to make your product look good and work. You find a workaround.

"If the car then crashes because the larger tyres rub on some part of the wheel arch, who's liable?"

Quite obviously the owner of the car. The owner knows the size of the wheel arch and they put the big tires on anyway..

Edited 2011-03-08 13:31 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by bn-7bc on Fri 11th Mar 2011 08:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
bn-7bc Member since:
2005-09-04

Well the manufacturer cold specify minimum and maximum tested tire with and diameter in the manual, if you mount bigger/smaller tires than that you are sol.
Example of response from manufacturer when an accident is fount to be caused by tires that was outside the spec i manual. "We acknowledge that this accident was cased by the ire getting caught on the wheel arch, Subsequent investigation by the police and our representatives show that the ties fitted were outside the specification clearly stated in the manual, we are therefor not liable for any gingery or other damage caused by this accident"

PS: I'm not a loyer so this might nt hold in a trial

Reply Score: 1

RE: Um, I disagree
by ichi on Tue 8th Mar 2011 01:24 UTC in reply to "Um, I disagree"
ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

Example: a plug-in crashes the browser. Who's at fault? The plug-in -- or the browser? It isn't clear how EU regulation would distinguish liability between the two components.


The day software companies are actually liable for software bugs, then we can start talking about that.

As of now, your point is moot.

Reply Score: 8

RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by tomcat on Tue 8th Mar 2011 02:35 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

"Example: a plug-in crashes the browser. Who's at fault? The plug-in -- or the browser? It isn't clear how EU regulation would distinguish liability between the two components.


The day software companies are actually liable for software bugs, then we can start talking about that.

As of now, your point is moot.
"

Dude, we ARE talking about liability here. It's not moot.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Um, I disagree
by ichi on Tue 8th Mar 2011 10:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Um, I disagree"
ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

You are arguing that making developers liable would be counter productive because there's no clear way to determine what application is the culprit of the flaw.

Well... does it happen that often now? And I mean besides public opinion and sensationalist headlines. Does the actual offending app ever have remained unknown?

You get those kind of conflicts in other areas, and those situations are investigated and properly addressed.
No one would object investigating a collapsed building just because it wouldn't be clear if it was the architect fault of if the interior designers might have weakened a structural pillar.

Software shouldn't be different, and as long as it keeps it's status of mystical dark art where bugs are the norm rather than the exception there will be no effort to improve the code quality beyond the minimum reasonable to get the product out of the door with a straight face.

Reply Score: 8

RE[4]: Um, I disagree
by jgagnon on Tue 8th Mar 2011 15:46 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Um, I disagree"
jgagnon Member since:
2008-06-24

I think that the issue with software is far more complicated, especially considering the program (or app or plugin) that reports the problem may not be the one that caused the problem. When computer systems crash, they often get rebooted pretty quickly and that greatly reduces any "forensic" attempt at figuring out what originally caused the problem.

You can't "reboot" a physical product to fix a physical flaw. If you put a spoon in the same drawer as a knife, it doesn't change the behavior of the spoon, the knife, or the drawer. It might change how you interact with the collection of things but it won't affect the behavior or use of any of the individual things. In the computing world, the drawer is your OS/browser/environment and the knife and spoon are two separate programs. Only in the computing world the knife and spoon both require usage of resources controlled by the drawer and could conflict or fail because of how the other programs use those resources.

The simple fact is that because programs share limited resources and some programs do not cooperate as well as others, things happen for completely unexpected reasons. Just because one program dies because that shared resource is no longer available or is somehow corrupt, doesn't mean that application caused the problem. This sort of thing is common on most platforms.

You could write the "perfect" program that does nothing wrong and reports everything bad it finds (100% error checks everything). With your average user, this program would be blamed for the problems it finds instead of rewarded for being a "good citizen".

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Um, I disagree
by ichi on Tue 8th Mar 2011 19:28 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Um, I disagree"
ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

It might not be obvious nor trivial, but if you can't trace an error and find it's origin you are either doing it wrong or you are running a POS system.

How many bug reports being actively worked on have you heard of where devs are still scratching their heads months later?

Maybe the day devs become liable for software flaws we could stop seeing companies like HP releasing barely tested hotfixes to fix bugs in the patch that fixed bugs in the previous patch, all this in their pricey enterprise grade applications.
Eventually you get tired of being betatester of apps worth over 100.000€ in licenses running on production systems.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Um, I disagree
by TheGZeus on Tue 8th Mar 2011 19:50 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Um, I disagree"
TheGZeus Member since:
2010-05-19

Reminds me of when I was using Ubuntu.
Fix is released that fixes a bug and causes 3, 2 of which are fixed(at least one of which creates another bug), one marked 'feature request'.

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Um, I disagree
by ichi on Tue 8th Mar 2011 21:22 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Um, I disagree"
ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

Yup, but the potential losses due to software flaws on all the servers of a Fortune 500 company vs Ubuntu running on my desktop are on a different league. A whole different sport, actually.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Um, I disagree
by pepa on Tue 8th Mar 2011 13:56 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Um, I disagree"
pepa Member since:
2005-07-08

Liability? Are you American?? This article is about Europe.
And even in the US liability doesn't tend to apply to software, that's why EULA's exist...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Um, I disagree
by Soulbender on Tue 8th Mar 2011 01:26 UTC in reply to "Um, I disagree"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

It isn't clear how EU regulation would distinguish liability between the two components.


Well, right now no-one is liable so how is that good for the consumer?

But let's just understand that no regulation is completely benign.


Neither is any corporate entity so I guess they cancel out, eh?

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by tomcat on Tue 8th Mar 2011 02:38 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

"It isn't clear how EU regulation would distinguish liability between the two components.


Well, right now no-one is liable so how is that good for the consumer?
"

Competition -- not regulation -- makes software better.

"But let's just understand that no regulation is completely benign.


Neither is any corporate entity so I guess they cancel out, eh?
"

The market has certainly done a better job of delivering what consumers want than regulation.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Um, I disagree
by Soulbender on Tue 8th Mar 2011 03:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Um, I disagree"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Competition -- not regulation -- makes software better.


If there's one thing we should learn from history it's that companies cares absolutely nada about consumers, their rights and their safety. There are countless examples of this. Rules and regulations are therefore necessary to protect the consumer. it really has nothing to do with creating better products since obviosuyl virtually every other industry manages to create better products while still being liable.

The market has certainly done a better job of delivering what consumers want than regulation.


Regulations are not about creating better prodcuts, it's about the consumers right with regads to flawed products.

Reply Score: 14

RE[4]: Um, I disagree
by bnolsen on Tue 8th Mar 2011 14:08 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Um, I disagree"
bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

companies care about your money. if they screw up on the issues you cite then they will go buy products and/or services from another company. Governments and laws should ensure that competition is protected for existing companies and that it is easy for new companies to be formed and built if the need arises.

The same can't be said about government which usually requires requires either moving to another country or a bloody revolution (which makes things worse 90+% of the time).

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Um, I disagree
by jabjoe on Wed 9th Mar 2011 10:14 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Um, I disagree"
jabjoe Member since:
2009-05-06

Companies care about money, not just your money. For a company, the optimal situation is where the customer thinks the products are good, but they are made as cheap as possible. It's about quality perception, not quality. Often the pattern is:

* Make something that is genuinely good, build up the brand.
* Keep making things under that brand, but cheaper (leaving the price the same). At this point the customer is still thinking it is genuinely good. This is the milking phase.
* When the customers wake up, goto line 10

How long they can trade in on a brand name, without really delivering, depends on competition.

If there wasn't regulation, in real world goods, like cars, this practice would kill people. In fact, even with regulation, it has killed people (cars again).

In software, often people can't change company. They are locked in. Certainly this is the common case with closed software. MS pretty much leave things in the milking phase. IE only got better when FireFox turned up. Windows went from Vista to 7 when Linux started coming at them from the netbook. Windows NT only happened at all because they wanted to compete on servers.

Competition in software is very weak, certainly on the desktop. To make it better, the MS question needs dealing with. Make application software or make operating systems, if you want to make both, one must be open source to ensure fair competition. File formats must be open and documented, with an open reference implimentation. This would deal with Apple too. Then we can have true competition in software, no vendor lock-ins. This is why open source works so well, you can't be locked in. Your open system is made of interchangable parts competing to be the part in your system. (Even the kernel, which is why I didn't mention Linux.) The regulation for the open system comes from the licenses and the programmers wanting the code to be good.

System needs rules to operate by if we want to keep them operating within parameters good for us (like not killing people (cars) or problems for society (banks)).

It's not competition or regulation, you want both. Regulated monoplies are better than unregulated monoplies, but better to not have monoplies at all.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Um, I disagree
by bert64 on Tue 8th Mar 2011 11:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Um, I disagree"
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

Some regulation is required to ensure competition, otherwise one player will swallow up all the smaller players thus creating a monopoly which is too big for anyone else to compete with.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Um, I disagree
by wannabe geek on Tue 8th Mar 2011 21:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Um, I disagree"
wannabe geek Member since:
2006-09-27

Competition -- not regulation -- makes software better.


Exactly! I cringe when politicians want to introduce yet more industry regulation. How did that work for the Soviets?

I'm also weary of software being treated just like physical goods. I oppose so-called "intellectual property", especially patents,. The EULAs would be fine by me, if they were just a contract between the user and the vendor, like an NDA, but not affecting third parties who didn't agree to it. It would be much better if "closed source" software companies based their business model on software-as-a-service and secrecy (like Google does). But then reverse engineering would have to be fair game.

All in all, I guess this time I side with (YUCK) the BSA.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Um, I disagree
by WereCatf on Tue 8th Mar 2011 22:02 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Um, I disagree"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

It would be much better if "closed source" software companies based their business model on software-as-a-service


If they did that they'd be liable under a completely different set of laws and rules, that's the whole point why they sell you a product and then later on tell you that they actually didn't sell you it: it allows them to circumvent the laws. And THAT is the whole point of this whole thing here: only software companies can circumvent the rules whereas no other industry sector can, and they trample on customer rights in the process.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Um, I disagree
by JAlexoid on Wed 9th Mar 2011 03:17 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Um, I disagree"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

How did that work for the Soviets?

Please. You have no fscking idea what you are trying to imply here.
This is not regulation, for that matter, it's consumer rights protection.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Um, I disagree
by wannabe geek on Wed 9th Mar 2011 12:19 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Um, I disagree"
wannabe geek Member since:
2006-09-27

"How did that work for the Soviets?

Please. You have no fscking idea what you are trying to imply here.
This is not regulation, for that matter, it's consumer rights protection.
"

Call it what you like. It's bureaucrats deciding on what consumers should or should not agree to. The market already has plenty of mechanisms for consumer protection and vendor liability. For mission-critical software, it's done by contracts. For mass market software, reputation is more than enough. Second-guessing these mechanisms will make software more expensive for consumers.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Um, I disagree
by Soulbender on Wed 9th Mar 2011 19:25 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Um, I disagree"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

The market already has plenty of mechanisms for consumer protection and vendor liability


Your over-confidence in a self-regulating market as a panacea is just as wrong-headed as some peoples over-confidence in government regulation as panacea.

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Um, I disagree
by wannabe geek on Thu 10th Mar 2011 01:00 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Um, I disagree"
wannabe geek Member since:
2006-09-27

I don't have a confidence on markets curing all ills and solving all problems (being a panacea),I just have zero confidence on bureacrats second-guessing consumers, in this case with mandatory standards of liability.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Um, I disagree
by christian on Tue 8th Mar 2011 01:43 UTC in reply to "Um, I disagree"
christian Member since:
2005-07-06

Second, you don't have to worry about compatibility with bread.


Of course you do. If it's too big to fit in the toaster, it's useless for toasting. I have all sorts of bread compatibility problems with my toaster.

Reply Score: 21

RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by tomcat on Tue 8th Mar 2011 02:34 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

"Second, you don't have to worry about compatibility with bread.


Of course you do. If it's too big to fit in the toaster, it's useless for toasting. I have all sorts of bread compatibility problems with my toaster.
"

LOL!

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by phoenix on Tue 8th Mar 2011 21:04 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Don't forget about compatibility with some people's digestive systems. And freshness definitely affects the compatibility with sandwich meat. And whether or not it's sliced affects the compatibility with various uses, and what kind of knives can be used. And ...

There really are a lot of compatibility issues with even "simple" things like bread, when you get right down to it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Um, I disagree
by JAlexoid on Tue 8th Mar 2011 03:04 UTC in reply to "Um, I disagree"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Software *is* unlike a physical good.


You do understand that software is currently equated to art. Even the most braindead software developer can't believe that software is art.

Software is goods(for most part), not art.
And being classified as goods, does not imply new regulations for the software developer.

So far, I have enough trust in EU council to say it's intentions are good. And stuff in EU is already priced at a higher level, because consumer rights are wider.

As far as EULAs go, they aren't exactly cancelled, but could not be applied retrospectively or implied by the vendor.

And no one is implying that software vendors will be liable for crashes. What it does is imply, if it says that software will work - then it's a violation of your right as a consumer if it does not. Regardless of EULA.

But then again, this is draft version and will be amended 100 times.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by lucas_maximus on Tue 8th Mar 2011 12:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

You do understand that software is currently equated to art. Even the most braindead software developer can't believe that software is art.


But putting good software together is a bit of an art.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Um, I disagree
by TheGZeus on Tue 8th Mar 2011 19:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Um, I disagree"
TheGZeus Member since:
2010-05-19

Same could be said about making/doing a good [insert anything that can be made or done].

Should your car be © of manufacturer, and you with no right to sell or modify?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Um, I disagree
by lucas_maximus on Tue 8th Mar 2011 21:34 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Um, I disagree"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

I was making a fun point ... never mind.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Um, I disagree
by JAlexoid on Wed 9th Mar 2011 03:00 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Um, I disagree"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

But putting good software together is a bit of an art.


In your case art has a a bit of a different definition:
- a superior skill that you can learn by study and practice and observation; "the art of conversation"; "it's quite an art"

My case it's a result of human creativity. Software is a result of trade not art.
Otherwise mathematics and math equations is also art.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by Lennie on Tue 8th Mar 2011 13:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

I thought it was equated to writing. Writing might be a subset of art in the laws most of us use I don't know.

But I tend to think programming (writing software) is kind of like writing a book.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Um, I disagree
by JAlexoid on Wed 9th Mar 2011 03:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Um, I disagree"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

I thought it was equated to writing. Writing might be a subset of art in the laws most of us use I don't know.

But I tend to think programming (writing software) is kind of like writing a book.



And books are equal to paintings, symphonies and sculpture in the eyes of the law.

Reply Score: 3

v RE: Um, I disagree
by unclefester on Tue 8th Mar 2011 05:13 UTC in reply to "Um, I disagree"
RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by allanregistos on Tue 8th Mar 2011 08:32 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
allanregistos Member since:
2011-02-10

"Software components are infinitely more complex than your average physical good, and their interactions can cause unintended/unanticipated/unreasonable problems for the original software developer.


Only in the deluded imaginations of so called software "engineers" is software more complex than physical goods. The very fact that 12 yo kids can write reasonable software shows this argument to be utter nonsense.

The average programmer is no more an "engineer" than a child making a Lego house.
"
You both are on the extreme side of things. It depends. The answer of software's complexity is yes and no. Yes, it is complex, when you are in systems programming. Creating kernel drivers for your peripherals to whatever OS is a complex task, but not infinitely. Writing an operating system for space vehicles that _must_ be defect free is more complex than writing kernel drivers alone(being part of that task). Writing an Office Software comparable to MS Office's must be more complex than writing a piece of software to monitor your inventory stocks.

However, software is 100% defect free and very simple when you write it at the level of "Hello World" program.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Um, I disagree
by bert64 on Tue 8th Mar 2011 11:43 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Um, I disagree"
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

Exactly, if software (or anything for that matter) is kept simple its easy to be defect free, and easy to understand exactly whats going on... Simple machinery is often more reliable and easier to fix than complex machinery for the same reason, far easier to understand how it works and why its not working.

The more complex something is, the greater chances of defects creeping in, and the problem is that software has increased in complexity much faster than anyone has the ability to keep track of it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Um, I disagree
by Neolander on Tue 8th Mar 2011 15:38 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Um, I disagree"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Every piece of software should be like xkill.

Press a keystroke, instantly see the mouse cursor change (visual feedback).
Left-click a window to kill the program (instantly, no nonsensical delay), right-click to quit the "killing" mode.

This program must be, say, 15 LOC long at worst, yet it's so incredibly useful everyone I've shown it to loves it and want it on his Windows/OSX system.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Um, I disagree
by zlynx on Wed 9th Mar 2011 16:47 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Um, I disagree"
zlynx Member since:
2005-07-20

The actual functionality of a program like xkill isn't in the program. Instead of thinking of xkill as a 15 line program consider the entire X software stack that xkill is using. That's tens of thousands of lines and very complex.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Um, I disagree
by Neolander on Wed 9th Mar 2011 16:54 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Um, I disagree"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Sure, but that stack could be simpler too. Embedded software is able to display GUIs without having enough RAM for X alone to fit in it.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Um, I disagree
by Lennie on Tue 8th Mar 2011 13:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Um, I disagree"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

There is one difference, when software is used it is not used the same way the programmmer created it.

Let's say your hello world was created in C, it will be translated to binary and later on when it is used on a x86 CPU, the CPU interpretes it and recodes it in RISC like instructions.

This shows that there is a lot of inherit complexity in the system itself.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Um, I disagree
by TheGZeus on Tue 8th Mar 2011 19:43 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Um, I disagree"
TheGZeus Member since:
2010-05-19

That's outright obtuse.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by Soulbender on Tue 8th Mar 2011 16:07 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Damn, this comment of yours really hit too close to home, eh?
I do agree though that software engineers continuously over-rate the complexity of software compared to other products.
But maybe they're right. Maybe creating farting iphone apps is the pinnacle of engineering efforts.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Um, I disagree
by qbast on Tue 8th Mar 2011 08:36 UTC in reply to "Um, I disagree"
qbast Member since:
2010-02-08

Software *is* unlike a physical good. For one thing, you can duplicate software for essentially zero cost. Second, you don't have to worry about compatibility with bread.

That's because anyone selling bread incompatible with human digestive system would find himself in jail.


Or shoes.

Actually you do. That's why you don't buy shoes on Internet.


Software components are infinitely more complex than your average physical good, and their interactions can cause unintended/unanticipated/unreasonable problems for the original software developer. Example: a plug-in crashes the browser. Who's at fault? The plug-in -- or the browser? It isn't clear how EU regulation would distinguish liability between the two components. On the one hand, the plug-in literally caused the crash. But that crash is manifested in the browser, and you could argue that it needs to defend itself against poor or malicious programming.


So? Car, plane, whatever else consists of various parts that have to work together. Any of those parts can break or interact badly with others. If part of jet engine fails and the engine catches fire are you going to argue that it is impossible to determine responsibility?




So, what does that mean for you, as a software developer? Answer: It isn't clear. It could make life a lot worse. You might have to deal with a lot more regulatory BS and barriers to distribution than before. Which might reduce your incentive to distribute software in the EU. Which might result in less choice for consumers, in the long run.


You could apply exactly the same reasoning to ANY industry.
Yet somehow only software vendors are absolved from any responsibility for what they sell.


I understand that regulation could also result in better software. But let's just understand that no regulation is completely benign. There will be costs for devs.

Reply Score: 8

RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by TheGZeus on Tue 8th Mar 2011 10:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
TheGZeus Member since:
2010-05-19

To be fair, I buy shoes on the Internet, because I haven't worn anything but Vans for 18 years, and I haven't changed my size in 14 years.

Just an aside.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Um, I disagree
by JAlexoid on Wed 9th Mar 2011 03:24 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Um, I disagree"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

To be fair, I buy shoes on the Internet, because I haven't worn anything but Vans for 18 years, and I haven't changed my size in 14 years.

Just an aside.


Technically, you are restocking.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Um, I disagree
by TheGZeus on Wed 9th Mar 2011 04:13 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Um, I disagree"
TheGZeus Member since:
2010-05-19

Hmm.
Good point.

Their various lines all fit differently, but are traditionally worn somewhat loosely.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Um, I disagree
by bert64 on Tue 8th Mar 2011 11:35 UTC in reply to "Um, I disagree"
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

Not unique to software at all...
If you make modifications to your car, or drive it in an unsafe manner then it may crash or break down.
Car manufacturers are not held responsible for crashes as a result of poor maintenance, third party modifications or poor driving. Why would software suppliers be treated any different?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by Lennie on Tue 8th Mar 2011 13:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Interresting how people use car analogies in this discussion.

Every modern car you buy in the showroom will have a number of blackboxes with software in it. Without it, the car won't even start.

So indirectly software is already regulated.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Um, I disagree
by tomcat on Wed 9th Mar 2011 02:21 UTC in reply to "RE: Um, I disagree"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

Not unique to software at all... If you make modifications to your car, or drive it in an unsafe manner then it may crash or break down. Car manufacturers are not held responsible for crashes as a result of poor maintenance, third party modifications or poor driving. Why would software suppliers be treated any different?


Because the interactions between software components are not easily inspectable, whereas real physical components are.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Um, I disagree
by TheGZeus on Wed 9th Mar 2011 02:49 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Um, I disagree"
TheGZeus Member since:
2010-05-19

o_O
After a car is blown to shit, it's a hell of alot harder to trace and completely impossible to repeat.

The opposite is true with software.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Um, I disagree
by tomcat on Thu 10th Mar 2011 21:28 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Um, I disagree"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

o_O After a car is blown to shit, it's a hell of alot harder to trace and completely impossible to repeat. The opposite is true with software.


Have you seen the FBI laying out parts after a crash? It certainly is easier to inspect.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Um, I disagree
by TheGZeus on Fri 11th Mar 2011 04:24 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Um, I disagree"
TheGZeus Member since:
2010-05-19

*headdesk*
Such and investigation (of a single event) can be a multi-million dollar proposition, and still might not uncover the cause.
There are _numerous_ debugging tools out there, and I can do a memory dump, if I must.
Do it with processor emulator and I can step at any speed I choose, pause, and inspect the state.

If the software allows, I can use standard debugging tools and step through the execution.

Yowza, you're ignorant.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Um, I disagree
by tomcat on Sat 12th Mar 2011 01:06 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Um, I disagree"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

*headdesk* Such and investigation (of a single event) can be a multi-million dollar proposition, and still might not uncover the cause. There are _numerous_ debugging tools out there, and I can do a memory dump, if I must. Do it with processor emulator and I can step at any speed I choose, pause, and inspect the state. If the software allows, I can use standard debugging tools and step through the execution. Yowza, you're ignorant.


As someone who has debugged countless kernel issues, you're kidding yourself if you think that you can easily debug non-deterministic memory corruption, race conditions, etc AFTER the fact. More often than not, there isn't enough forensic data to reconstruct the root cause. Threads disappear. Processes crash. Repro cases are non-existent. Yeah, really easy, lightweight.

Reply Score: 2

rhavyn
Member since:
2005-07-06

"should be treated as goods for the application of the provisions of this Directive which apply to sales contracts"

In other words, contracts around the purchase of digital goods is treated the same as physical goods. Further down...

"(50) In order to ensure legal certainty and improve the functioning of the internal market, the Directive should contain two non-exhaustive lists of unfair terms. Annex II contains a list of terms which should in all circumstances be considered unfair. Annex III contains a list of terms which should be deemed unfair unless the trader proves otherwise."

And I've looked at Annex II and Anex III and none of those unilaterly eliminate the common terms of an EULA. And it specifically codifies what it seems to call a "distance contract" which seems to specifically allow for click through like agreements. Unless there are more details then the page you linked to?

Reply Score: 6

Flawed analogy
by mrhasbean on Tue 8th Mar 2011 00:32 UTC
mrhasbean
Member since:
2006-04-03

The BSA argues that it is impossible to deliver software without bugs. In addition, the BSA states this would mean software makers would no longer be obliged to release patches and updates. How exactly their reasoning works there is beyond me.

The issue here is that the BSA is trying to put a spin on the word 'defective'. Not being defective does not mean a product is flawless; it simply means, according to the new directive as well as the existing legislation it consolidates, that a product must be able to perform its advertised and intended function. To illustrate - cars have 'bugs' too; the fit may not always be perfect, a cable may need replacement after 8000km instead of the advertised 10000km, and so on.


This is a very flawed analogy. If a car is delivered with a "defect" or a "bug", the manufacturer has a duty to consumers to correct that defect. Software bugs are defects, not "wear and tear" items like the cable you suggest. So their claims are 100% pertinent - if software was delivered with any bugs whatsoever it would be the software companies duty to fix that for whatever period the governing authorities saw fit, and it's impossible to deliver complex software with absolutely no bugs. These potential additional long term costs would drive up the base price of software - there would be cheaper licensed versions that would have "export" restrictions on them (ie. they can't be sold into the EU), and a more expensive EU version that you can own.

There would however be no requirement at all for them to deliver point releases of software with incremental "updates". When was the last time a car manufacturer sent out a letter asking everyone to bring in their car for a free update to maybe give them more fuel economy or a more responsive transmission for example? Both things that can be achieved with "software" in most modern cars.

And there would be no reason whatsoever for them to offer "upgrades" to current licenses - because it's not a licence any more. Again, equate this to your car analogy - trade-ins are of no use to them, and lower cost upgrades wouldn't give them a legal "out" for not fixing a bug in a particular version, so there would be no compelling reason to offer upgrades, in the EU, especially for the bigger companies that have a "monopoly" in their particular market space.

Be very careful what you wish for, you might just get it...

Reply Score: 5

RE: Flawed analogy
by sukru on Tue 8th Mar 2011 02:00 UTC in reply to "Flawed analogy"
sukru Member since:
2006-11-19

Yes, people miss this aspect of the issue.

It's possible to write (almost) defect free software. It's done in health sector or at NASA, or some military areas. Nevertheless the cost of the software is significantly higher. $1000 per line of code higher.

If you'd like to pay for you laptop sums similar to an MRI machine, this is a good thing.

And there is the issue of open source software. Unless there is an exception, this effectively kills the "release early, release often" cycle.

Edited 2011-03-08 02:00 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Flawed analogy
by WorknMan on Tue 8th Mar 2011 02:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Flawed analogy"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

And there is the issue of open source software. Unless there is an exception, this effectively kills the "release early, release often" cycle.


Yeah, I was wondering what this would mean for FOSS, or even free (as in beer) software. Would you really want to release something for free in the wild if you knew that Joe Sixpack could sue you if it wrecks his computer somehow?

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Flawed analogy
by obsidian on Tue 8th Mar 2011 02:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Flawed analogy"
obsidian Member since:
2007-05-12

IANAL but I guess that's where the disclaimer clauses like this one come in (this is from the M.I.T. license) -
"THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY,
FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE."

I imagine that there will still be plenty of people willing to use FOSS.

Reply Score: 6

RE[4]: Flawed analogy
by WorknMan on Tue 8th Mar 2011 02:56 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Flawed analogy"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Well, from reading the article, I thought that was the point of all this... that if your software is defective, the new law would override whatever was in the license agreement, and you could still be liable.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Flawed analogy
by Lennie on Tue 8th Mar 2011 13:59 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Flawed analogy"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Did you pay for that software ? No ? But you still want to be compensated ? That is interresting...

My software is a gift to the community, you are free to use it and you are free not to use it.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Flawed analogy
by somebody on Tue 8th Mar 2011 18:50 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Flawed analogy"
somebody Member since:
2005-07-07

note that "customer" is used trough all legislation.

user and customer are 2 different points.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Flawed analogy
by tomcat on Tue 8th Mar 2011 02:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Flawed analogy"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

Yes, people miss this aspect of the issue.

It's possible to write (almost) defect free software. It's done in health sector or at NASA, or some military areas. Nevertheless the cost of the software is significantly higher. $1000 per line of code higher.

If you'd like to pay for you laptop sums similar to an MRI machine, this is a good thing.


Except people AREN'T going to want to pay what it would cost to write almost defect free software. But they're still going to want to sue you. Which seems like the wrong dynamic.

And there is the issue of open source software. Unless there is an exception, this effectively kills the "release early, release often" cycle.


I don't think it kills it. Just forces everyone to absorb the impact of new regulatory issues.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Flawed analogy
by JAlexoid on Wed 9th Mar 2011 03:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Flawed analogy"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Except people AREN'T going to want to pay what it would cost to write almost defect free software. But they're still going to want to sue you. Which seems like the wrong dynamic.


Ahh... I love when Americans are so ignorant that they apply their own legal system understanding and litigious mindset to other countries...

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Flawed analogy
by TheGZeus on Wed 9th Mar 2011 04:14 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Flawed analogy"
TheGZeus Member since:
2010-05-19

Yeah, it's rather embarrassing.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Flawed analogy
by Soulbender on Tue 8th Mar 2011 03:46 UTC in reply to "RE: Flawed analogy"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

If you'd like to pay for you laptop sums similar to an MRI machine, this is a good thing.


Last time I checked laptops were considered goods and thus not excempt from any liabilities. Good thing stuff like microchip design and manufacturing is nowhere as complex as software...

And there is the issue of open source software.


That's the interesting questions now, isn't it. OSS licenses also waivers any liabilities so what about that? Will there be or is there an exception. Does it not, for whatever reason, apply to OSS?

Edited 2011-03-08 03:49 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Flawed analogy
by Almafeta on Tue 8th Mar 2011 04:24 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Flawed analogy"
Almafeta Member since:
2007-02-22

Last time I checked laptops were considered goods and thus not excempt from any liabilities. Good thing stuff like microchip design and manufacturing is nowhere as complex as software...


The only thing that's notably different about microchip design from program design is that there's no need to worry about the UI, as such. Mathematically, it's all just algorithms, so it's as complex (perhaps a bit moreso) as programing

*goes back to quietly lurking*

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Flawed analogy
by Neolander on Tue 8th Mar 2011 06:34 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Flawed analogy"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

The only thing that's notably different about microchip design from program design is that there's no need to worry about the UI, as such. Mathematically, it's all just algorithms, so it's as complex (perhaps a bit moreso) as programing

*goes back to quietly lurking*

Then why are microchip issues far less common ?

Besides, I think that this debate is badly introduced to start with. Are we really comparing software as a whole, from embedded 1KB snippets to bloated OSs like Windows Vista or OSX Leopard, to hardware as a whole, from plastic screws to supercomputers ?

Edited 2011-03-08 06:44 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Flawed analogy
by daedalus on Tue 8th Mar 2011 15:03 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Flawed analogy"
daedalus Member since:
2011-01-14

Then why are microchip issues far less common ?


A couple of possible reasons unrelated to complexity:

1) Because defective hardware is much more expensive to rectify than buggy software (think recalling hardware products as opposed to pushing out or making available software patches), hardware is tested far more vigorously in QC than software.

2) Microchip issues may be more common than you think, as often hardware issues can be worked around in software. How many people have had graphical glitches resolved by updating their graphics card drivers? What's to say those issues aren't in the silicon, and were just mitigated by workarounds in the updated driver?

These come from my personal experience developing hardware and firmware for medical equipment for a living...

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Flawed analogy
by WereCatf on Tue 8th Mar 2011 10:32 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Flawed analogy"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

The only thing that's notably different about microchip design from program design is that there's no need to worry about the UI, as such. Mathematically, it's all just algorithms, so it's as complex (perhaps a bit moreso) as programing


Producing microchips is inherently more complex than software. Why? Because it's a physical product: you not only have to design it with the used materials' restrictions in mind but you also still need to fit all the designed features in with as few bugs and defects as possible. And THEN comes the actual physical manufacturing which requires a whole effing factory to do and can STILL introduce defects not related to design itself!

Producing software on the other hand requires you to write code and then compile it. No need to worry about material restrictions and effects, no need to operate heavy-duty machinery and so on and so forth.

My point is: producing software is often a lot easier than producing physical products because physical products require you not only to acquire the materials, but to also take their properties into account, any laws regarding allowable materials, actually producing all the needed parts often requires multiple factories, and then there's the whole storage and shipment thing to it too. With virtual products you simply don't have any of that.

Defects can and WILL happen, both with physical and virtual products. Like for example a friend of mine bought a bag of candy and started eating them. Then a moment later she yelled out in pain: there was a small, sharp piece of wood among the candies and it got stuck right between her teeth. The manufacturer is liable in such a situation and needs to either replace the defect products or provide amends.

With a software manufacturer on the other hand it would go like this at the moment: you buy a budget management application, use it happily for a while, and then it goes amok and destroys completely unrelated data. You inform the manufacturer about it and the manufacturer goes "Sorry, EULA says we are not liable for ANYTHING! So long, sucker!"

Yes, labeling virtual products as goods will cause some more worries for software manufacturers/developers, but that is exactly how it should be. They have been enjoying MUCH less restrictions than any other industry branch and still can claim they're not even liable for anything.

Edited 2011-03-08 10:33 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE[5]: Flawed analogy
by TheGZeus on Tue 8th Mar 2011 10:56 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Flawed analogy"
TheGZeus Member since:
2010-05-19

That's more difficult, and _possibly_ more expensive (look at the estimated cost for the linux kernel), it's not more complex.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Flawed analogy
by WereCatf on Tue 8th Mar 2011 11:04 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Flawed analogy"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

That's more difficult, and _possibly_ more expensive (look at the estimated cost for the linux kernel), it's not more complex.


Really? How do you define "complex" in this case then?

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Flawed analogy
by TheGZeus on Tue 8th Mar 2011 19:40 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Flawed analogy"
TheGZeus Member since:
2010-05-19

I don't. The dictionary does that for me.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Flawed analogy
by Neolander on Tue 8th Mar 2011 06:27 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Flawed analogy"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

That's the interesting questions now, isn't it. OSS licenses also waivers any liabilities so what about that? Will there be or is there an exception. Does it not, for whatever reason, apply to OSS?

Guess there will be a way to treat the "release early release often" model like we currently treat prototypes : it is forbidden to make money from them afaik, but you can have people test them under certain conditions. Pharmaceutical companies do this all the time...

What is worrying however is what will happen to GPL-like licensing which is totally based on EULAs... BSD/MIT can simply be replaced with public domain in most cases, except for the disclaimer.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Flawed analogy
by Soulbender on Tue 8th Mar 2011 06:33 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Flawed analogy"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

The GPL/BSD/MIT probably isn't affected at all since they do not concern themselves with how the consumer use the product, only with redistribution.

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: Flawed analogy
by Neolander on Tue 8th Mar 2011 06:39 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Flawed analogy"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

You're right. It's possible to introduce terms concerning redistribution of hardware, after all in most countries you can't simply give dangerous objects like weapons, explosives, and cars to somebody.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Flawed analogy
by tomcat on Tue 8th Mar 2011 02:44 UTC in reply to "Flawed analogy"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

"The BSA argues that it is impossible to deliver software without bugs. In addition, the BSA states this would mean software makers would no longer be obliged to release patches and updates. How exactly their reasoning works there is beyond me.

The issue here is that the BSA is trying to put a spin on the word 'defective'. Not being defective does not mean a product is flawless; it simply means, according to the new directive as well as the existing legislation it consolidates, that a product must be able to perform its advertised and intended function. To illustrate - cars have 'bugs' too; the fit may not always be perfect, a cable may need replacement after 8000km instead of the advertised 10000km, and so on.


This is a very flawed analogy. If a car is delivered with a "defect" or a "bug", the manufacturer has a duty to consumers to correct that defect. Software bugs are defects, not "wear and tear" items like the cable you suggest. So their claims are 100% pertinent - if software was delivered with any bugs whatsoever it would be the software companies duty to fix that for whatever period the governing authorities saw fit, and it's impossible to deliver complex software with absolutely no bugs. These potential additional long term costs would drive up the base price of software - there would be cheaper licensed versions that would have "export" restrictions on them (ie. they can't be sold into the EU), and a more expensive EU version that you can own.

There would however be no requirement at all for them to deliver point releases of software with incremental "updates". When was the last time a car manufacturer sent out a letter asking everyone to bring in their car for a free update to maybe give them more fuel economy or a more responsive transmission for example? Both things that can be achieved with "software" in most modern cars.

And there would be no reason whatsoever for them to offer "upgrades" to current licenses - because it's not a licence any more. Again, equate this to your car analogy - trade-ins are of no use to them, and lower cost upgrades wouldn't give them a legal "out" for not fixing a bug in a particular version, so there would be no compelling reason to offer upgrades, in the EU, especially for the bigger companies that have a "monopoly" in their particular market space.

Be very careful what you wish for, you might just get it...
"

Under new regulatory action, the question really is "when does a defect become serious enough to force a fix?" With automobiles, for example, it's fairly obvious that safety problems require a fix. But what about a web browser crash or some kind of inconvenience bug. Both of these issues could happen in a marginal scenario which affects practically nobody, but it is important to a given user.

This is a really bad idea, in my opinion. It's going to make lawyers and judges arbiters of the quality of products.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Flawed analogy
by Fergy on Tue 8th Mar 2011 06:52 UTC in reply to "Flawed analogy"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

This is a very flawed analogy. If a car is delivered with a "defect" or a "bug", the manufacturer has a duty to consumers to correct that defect. Software bugs are defects, not "wear and tear" items like the cable you suggest. So their claims are 100% pertinent - if software was delivered with any bugs whatsoever it would be the software companies duty to fix that for whatever period the governing authorities saw fit, and it's impossible to deliver complex software with absolutely no bugs.

Consumers don't expect their cars to be perfect. Consumers won't expect their software to be perfect. What they do expect are the promised features and performance of the product.
There would however be no requirement at all for them to deliver point releases of software with incremental "updates". When was the last time a car manufacturer sent out a letter asking everyone to bring in their car for a free update to maybe give them more fuel economy or a more responsive transmission for example? Both things that can be achieved with "software" in most modern cars.

You don't have the right to software updates. It is just a nice service that they offer if you choose their product.
Be very careful what you wish for, you might just get it...

Be careful with car analogies, they mostly don't work

Reply Score: 5

RE: Flawed analogy
by unclefester on Tue 8th Mar 2011 08:19 UTC in reply to "Flawed analogy"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

This is a very flawed analogy. If a car is delivered with a "defect" or a "bug", the manufacturer has a duty to consumers to correct that defect. Software bugs are defects, not "wear and tear" items like the cable you suggest. So their claims are 100% pertinent - if software was delivered with any bugs whatsoever it would be the software companies duty to fix that for whatever period the governing authorities saw fit, and it's impossible to deliver complex software with absolutely no bugs.


Wrong. Companies would merely be required to provide a software warranty period eg. 12 months. They would also be required to provide patches for a certain amount of time.

Wrong. Under consumer law products merely need to be fit for the intended purpose - not free of defects. Expensive or critical mission software would be required to have very few bugs. Free software would have no quality requirements at all as long as it didn't cause deliberate damage.

When was the last time a car manufacturer sent out a letter asking everyone to bring in their car for a free update to maybe give them more fuel economy or a more responsive transmission for example?


What do you think a vehicle recall is? Car companies do it all the time. Upgrades of software and mechanical components are often done during routine servicing.

And there would be no reason whatsoever for them to offer "upgrades" to current licenses - because it's not a licence any more.


False. In fact low-cost upgrades would be necessary to ensure customer loyalty. Otherwise they would simply switch to a competitor.

Reply Score: 15

RE[2]: Flawed analogy
by Soulbender on Tue 8th Mar 2011 09:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Flawed analogy"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Best damn answer in this thread and it's a shame I cant mod you up.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Flawed analogy
by bert64 on Tue 8th Mar 2011 11:54 UTC in reply to "Flawed analogy"
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

Cars with critical bugs (especially safety critical ones) will get recalled and fixed, but minor bugs won't...
My car has a problem for instance, when it's cold the electric fold out mirrors fold too far forwards. The manufacturer isn't going to fix that, and although i could replace the mirrors the replacements would have the same bug. All i can really do is pull them back into place when it happens.

Reply Score: 3

Digihooman
Member since:
2010-05-01

What a great thing to read with a cup-a-tea. Fancy that, software users having rights; that can't be correct can it? It will be fun watching the BSA squirm about for a while, maybe some of those rights might trickle down to Australia.

Reply Score: 5

If this passes...
by compman775 on Tue 8th Mar 2011 01:58 UTC
compman775
Member since:
2011-03-08

If this passes, things might get interesting.

Reply Score: 1

Time to put on my lobbying hat
by JAlexoid on Tue 8th Mar 2011 02:48 UTC
JAlexoid
Member since:
2009-05-19

Well this is as usual.
Something just tells me that people against BSA's total crap slinging have to do some lobbying themselves.

If you know any MEPs personally, I suggest start informing them on the matter. I know a few from my country, how about you?

Reply Score: 4

User Rights = FOSS
by benali72 on Tue 8th Mar 2011 03:03 UTC
benali72
Member since:
2008-05-03

Users have rights? Clearly this is concept has never occurred to either American software vendors or the BSA.

I left commercial software long ago because if you actually read and understand a Microsoft EULA, you can see it is nothing but an onerous one-sided "agreement."

It amazes me that corporate software purchasers, who routinely have their legal departments review all such contracts, don't move to FOSS for this reason alone.

Reply Score: 5

Why buy software?
by TheGZeus on Tue 8th Mar 2011 04:06 UTC
TheGZeus
Member since:
2010-05-19

I haven't for years.
I've dealt with 3 EULAs in the past 4 years: RAR, FlashPlayer, and the firmware for my Intel network cards.
That's it.

I haven't distributed anything I've modified, so I've had no call to read the license terms for anything else I use, either.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Why buy software?
by lucas_maximus on Tue 8th Mar 2011 22:14 UTC in reply to "Why buy software?"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Because when you do more on your computer than "browsing the web" and "writing letters", you need software that works.

I couldn't do my job effectively without Adobe Fireworks ... just couldn't do it as quickly. Thus I pay for it. GIMP won't do, Paint.NET won't do ... Only Adobe Fireworks does everything I want and well.

I need a reliable OS that can run every version of Internet Explorer and every mainstream browser ... only choice is Windows 7, so I pay for that.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Why buy software?
by TheGZeus on Wed 9th Mar 2011 04:17 UTC in reply to "Why buy software?"
TheGZeus Member since:
2010-05-19

Just realised I forgot the licenses for DooM (II), Quake, and Hexen (II).

I use the free engines, but the content isn't free. That's once each, and only one of those wasn't purchased (?) when it was still fairly new (Hexen II. still haven't beat that game, iirc...).

Reply Score: 2

Patches
by crimperman on Tue 8th Mar 2011 14:08 UTC
crimperman
Member since:
2006-11-09

> The BSA argues that it is impossible to deliver software without bugs. In addition, the BSA states this would mean software makers would no longer be obliged to release patches and updates.

The BSA is throwing a lot of straw-man arguments around here. If I buy a book and some of the pages are missing, I return it for a refund or a replacement. Same with software.

As for patches: the software company is not obliged to release patches or updates now (unless it's part of a support contract). It's just that many do as a way keeping users sweet. Any company which neglected to release at least security patches would soon find their customer base dwindling. Some (many?) proprietary companies already charge for upgrades which include security patches and others just push you onto the next version anyway. Is this any different to a 2nd edition of a book?

It's pretty obvious their concerns are to do with the fact that once we own what we "buy" we can do what we want with it (including reverse engineer it?). In some ways this turns intellectual property back into just property. For FOSS this is great news, for proprietary houses it's the opposite.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Patches
by somebody on Tue 8th Mar 2011 19:00 UTC in reply to "Patches"
somebody Member since:
2005-07-07

off course they would, did you expect any different? main problems is that straws are actually only arguments they have

i am developer who only does open source, even my custom commercial software is open at least to customer and i do take pride of maintaining it. i for one would really like for this law to be passed as valid.

it was "my way or the highway" for big boys until now. just look how sony simply removed OtherOS. they could as well say you agree to daily butt rape when buying and using their software and you'd still have to agree if you want to use what you payed for. EULA in any kind must die.

and if this passed, all the freeloading on crap products would become really expensive

Edited 2011-03-08 19:03 UTC

Reply Score: 2

At last I'll own my copy of Office
by gmelis on Tue 8th Mar 2011 14:19 UTC
gmelis
Member since:
2006-11-04

I think you are putting too much brain power on the bug-thing, when there is the problem of many software companies claiming that you don't own the software you buy. The first thing that goes is who "owns" the software and what he can do with it, i.e. resell it. This is what scares BSA most, the software flaws etc. are just smokescreen. Software is the only product that you buy but don't own. The seller sells you the product but may withhold ownership. Now they'll lose that and they loathe it. Period.

Edited 2011-03-08 14:23 UTC

Reply Score: 6

somebody Member since:
2005-07-07

don't forget...
- movies (you can only play them on devices that payed additional fee)
- any kind of drm content also restricts you to use it as you'd like
- games (you can be held liable if you change it)
- ps3 (you cannot buy it as sony showed, you have it on loan)

Reply Score: 4

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

- ps3 (you cannot buy it as sony showed, you have it on loan)

I wouldn't be surprised that that was a big reason behind the amendment about software. EU council are the ones that are literally free from PR influence by corporations. They are unelected, but are chosen by national governments.
There are benefits(they can do what they think is right, but not popular) and disadvantages(their definition of "right" may not be right)

Reply Score: 2

EULAs are already dead
by Carewolf on Tue 8th Mar 2011 21:26 UTC
Carewolf
Member since:
2005-09-08

How can you kill that which is already dead?

AFAIK, only very small handfull of countries and half the states in the US currently recognize EULAs. Have any EU countries introduced legislation that enables one-sided contracts?

Edited 2011-03-08 21:27 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: EULAs are already dead
by cropr on Thu 10th Mar 2011 09:33 UTC in reply to "EULAs are already dead"
cropr Member since:
2006-02-14

Indeed, A Belgian judge has decided in the '90 that for residential consumers an EULA is not valid. According to the consumer law every restriction of a good should be known the moment the sale is closed. Because the EULA is only visible when you open the package or install the software, the EULA is imposed after the sale and as a consequence invalid. The judge compared the EULA with a newspaper where on the front page is written: "by turning this page, you agree to ...". Bear in mind that that in a business to business environment, other rules apply

Reply Score: 1

European consumer laws to the Europeans
by tralafit on Thu 10th Mar 2011 11:12 UTC
tralafit
Member since:
2011-03-10

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is a lobby group of American enterprises. So what do they want here in Europe?

Are they Europeans? No. Are they consumers? No. Are these software industry players afraid of the proposed laws for consumers? Yes, so it may be effective to help consumers and strengthen their position.

Reply Score: 1

EULA
by Espen on Thu 10th Mar 2011 20:45 UTC
Espen
Member since:
2009-11-03

I haven't read all the comments but I understand that many of you don't live in europe.
Many parts the EULA from diffrent software companys is not valid in european countries. Because our lovs give us more rigths. And don't give firmes the rigth to take away my fridom to use what I have paied for to what I want.
Just look at what the outcome of the trial against Jon Lech Johansen in Norway ended with.

I think it's good that the EU sets an example for good Consumer rigths.

Espen

Reply Score: 1