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Author Topic: EC wants software makers held liable for code [Update]  (Read 6022 times)

Ehtyar

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EC wants software makers held liable for code [Update]
« on: May 13, 2009, 09:16:57 PM »
In a classic example of Government fundamentally misunderstanding technology, two European Commissioners have taken it upon themselves to recommend that all software makers be held liable for the performance of their code in the hands of the public. The recommendation is made even more absurd by the fact that the reqirement would extend even to open source and free software.

There are a million and one reasons this won't work, but it's frightening on several levels that this sort of thing can even be proposed by an administrative body.

ec.png

Ehtyar.

[edit]
Update here.
[/edit]
« Last Edit: May 19, 2009, 07:10:17 PM by Ehtyar »

Deozaan

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2009, 09:27:42 PM »
That is just insane.

Who lets these people be in charge of things they know nothing about? How did the world get this way?


rgdot

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2009, 09:53:54 PM »
It won't work as there is no way to enforce it even if it's a good thing. The problem here is that, even in 2009, lawmakers have not come to grips with the international nature of the internet. Even if this is an attempt to regulate software written in their jurisdiction there is still no way to standardize different languages, code, etc.

However, I am going to play devil's advocate and say that Ehtyar's assertion that open source and free software must be held to a different standard is something that can't last forever, just putting a text file saying this software is "as is" is not just ok. Don't expect that kind of a thing to be workable/acceptable in 10 or 20 years time.

fenixproductions

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2009, 10:10:20 PM »
It reminds me about something I heard from French user, that "An author is not responsible for any data loss occurred while using his software" part of licences is never valid, because according to French law, you are always responsible for the things you sell / provide / lend until you sign named agreement with customer that you both know about bugs and he takes responsibility.

Simply spoken: if you borrow a ladder to your neighbour and he will fell off from it, you will be guilty. The only way to prevent this is, as I wrote above, to sign some stupid papers that you know ladder is broken and your pal knows it, and he accepts the fact that he can broke his neck using it.

Of course, it was theory only and no one cared about BUT if EC is trying to force similar law than it gives one thought only: they either want to move all developers outside EU or just show off that they do something.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2009, 10:13:36 PM by fenixproductions »

Ehtyar

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2009, 11:24:23 PM »
However, I am going to play devil's advocate and say that Ehtyar's assertion that open source and free software must be held to a different standard is something that can't last forever, just putting a text file saying this software is "as is" is not just ok. Don't expect that kind of a thing to be workable/acceptable in 10 or 20 years time.
I'm not really sure how you'd go about stopping someone from releasing software for which there is no cost if they refuse to take responsibility for it. Not to mention the international hurdles you'd have to get across. Seems ridiculous to hold someone responsible for something they freely give away which you are under no obligation to use. There's nothing that makes the "as is" agreement any less legally binding, or appropriate for that matter (in some cases it's more-so), than any other EULA.

That is just insane.

Who lets these people be in charge of things they know nothing about? How did the world get this way?
Fortunately, I'm sure they're actually in change of anything specifically related to tech. The impression I get is that they were a part of some review into EU consumer protection regulations, and when they found that software makers weren't a part of it, they got all hoity toity about it because they have no clue as to how it works.

Ehtyar.

f0dder

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2009, 01:57:02 AM »
Who lets these people be in charge of things they know nothing about? How did the world get this way?
It's called democracy, baby.

Capitalism has made it this way - good old-fashioned fascism will take it away!
* f0dder ducks and covers.
- carpe noctem

tomos

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2009, 06:08:31 AM »
Capitalism has made it this way - good old-fashioned fascism will take it away!
* f0dder ducks and covers.
f0dder for leader :) lol
Tom

40hz

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2009, 06:40:40 AM »
Who lets these people be in charge of things they know nothing about? How did the world get this way?
It's called democracy, baby.

Capitalism has made it this way - good old-fashioned fascism will take it away!
* f0dder ducks and covers.


I forget who once said that the United States was a country founded on the principle that it was far better to ruled by a hundred idiots than one mad king.

I guess the EU just had to try it out for themselves to see if it was true. ;D

*40hz pulls f0dder out of his foxhole, and after dodging a few stray bullets, takes him out for a drink.  :up:

However, I am going to play devil's advocate and say that Ehtyar's assertion that open source and free software must be held to a different standard is something that can't last forever, just putting a text file saying this software is "as is" is not just ok. Don't expect that kind of a thing to be workable/acceptable in 10 or 20 years time.

If somebody is going to held completely accountable for every possible consequence of anything they do, then the only intelligent response to such unlimited risk is to do nothing at all.

Perhaps we'll all soon reach the conclusion that the computer Joshua did in the film War Games:

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play."

 8)
« Last Edit: May 14, 2009, 06:49:25 AM by 40hz »

tomos

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2009, 08:11:03 AM »
continuing off-topic (with apologies)
Dilbert's And Thus Ended Capitalism
Tom

Eóin

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2009, 12:42:09 PM »
I remember hearing a well argued case (but don't have original source) which suggested companies face fines in cases were very dodgy software leads to serious loss of money. Say an OS being compromised or a backup solution failing. Of course was intended exclusively for the big companies. I.e. in paying money you deserve some guarantees.

Anyway the great thing about Europe, is that usually two idiots won't get anywhere.

CWuestefeld

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2009, 01:52:56 PM »
If the government can do this, aren't they morally bound to enforce liability against themselves?

If I elect a politician based on a promise that he breaks, can I hold him liable?

If he fails to vote against a bill that later has negative consequences, can I hold him liable?

If either answer is "yes", then why do politicians get held to looser standards when the amount of power they wield -- and thus the damage they can do -- is so great?

Ehtyar

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2009, 03:14:11 PM »
If the government can do this, aren't they morally bound to enforce liability against themselves?

If I elect a politician based on a promise that he breaks, can I hold him liable?

If he fails to vote against a bill that later has negative consequences, can I hold him liable?

If either answer is "yes", then why do politicians get held to looser standards when the amount of power they wield -- and thus the damage they can do -- is so great?
Awesome post CWuestefeld!! :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:

Ehtyar.

4wd

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2009, 03:51:24 PM »
If either answer is "yes", then why do politicians get held to looser standards when the amount of power they wield -- and thus the damage they can do -- is so great?

I believe you answered your own question right there.

They wield the power, they make the rules, do you honestly think that they would jeopardise their own financial/political well-being willingly?

The only time any politician, (with very few exceptions), would willingly do something moral is when they've been caught doing the immoral.

Take the recent UK political sh*t-storm over politician expense claims as an example.
If they hadn't have been caught, would the public have heard about it and been allowed to decide for themselves whether it was morally OK for the politicians to claim them?
« Last Edit: May 14, 2009, 03:55:39 PM by 4wd »

Ehtyar

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2009, 07:09:16 PM »
In the words of Gomez Addams..."Has the planet gone mad?"

The American Law Institute has drafted documents in relation to undisclaimable warranty on software that is purchased by an end user, whether they be an individual or a corporation. Fortunately, the ALI is not a law making body, though their material is often referenced in the courts to aid in interpretation of existing law.

Quote
A transferor that receives money or a right to payment of a monetary obligation in exchange for the software warrants to any party in the normal chain of distribution that the software contains no material hidden defects of which the transferor was aware at the time of the transfer. This warranty may not be excluded.

The document is being criticized by both sides of the software community, with Microsoft and the Linux Foundation both publicly excoriating the draft, saying it is vague, and could come back to bite free software distributed with commercial products.

The full story is here.

Ehtyar.

Stoic Joker

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Re: EC wants software makers held liable for code [Update]
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2009, 10:39:07 AM »
The state of Indiana once came very close to passing a law that would require motorcycles to have seat-belts & a flashing red light on a 10' pole. <-Now tell me that's not a great way to get a bunch or people killed...)

The state of Florida just passed a law (specifically for "Stunt-Riding" motorcycles) that states that if you are exceeding the speed limit by 50+ MPH:
Your motorcycle endorsement (license) will be revoked for 10yrs.
Your bike will be confiscated.
You will be fined at a much higher rate.
You will go to jail.
...and a bunch of other stuff I forget.


Now... the above was concocted in the (alleged) interest of public safety. It's only a matter of time before it backfires because there in no incentive what-so-ever for the rider to pull over and just give-in to that kind of penalty. They will run (because they can) and dangerously compound the problem.

At any rate, the point of these examples is that the lawmakers keep making uninformed (or poorly thought out) decisions based solely on trying to silence some whinny "Special Interest" group who ultimately is simply just insisting on being protected from themselves.