Date: Fri, Sep 8, 2000 12:12 AM
Subject: High-Tech Warranty Project --Comment, P994413
High-Tech Warranty Project -- Comment, P994413
1. What warranty protections currently exists for consumers who purchase software? Usually none. As a matter of fact, the only warranty I've seen is a warranty of the media for a period of time. There is no customer ownership of the software. The licensor usually has the right to revoke the license to use. Even the music and movie industries haven't been so bold yet, although it seems that even they are now pursuing options on how to severely restrict use.
2. The quality of software has not been improved by current warranty protection. If anything, it can fairly be argued that the quality of software has declined significantly during the past decade. Plenty of "features" have crept into software packages, but the quality of such "features" has not been satisfactory. This decline in quality is allowed to happen due partly to the fact that consumers have no remedy with software developers.
3. Shrinkwrap licenses commit consumers to acceptance of terms before the product has even been used. This is unheard of with any other product. License terms should not require acceptance before the software has been tested by the buyer. Buyers should have at least the same rights with software as they have with other products. In fact, it could be argued that buyers should have more rights with software.
Software has the potential to destroy or corrupt data, and most current license terms hold the software developers harmless in such cases.
4. Clickwrap licenses behave much the same as shrinkwrap licenses. But what is worse about clickwrap licenses is that if the consumer wants to test the software before agreeing to the terms, the software refuses to run. Again, software developers are removing themselves from any sort of accountability.
5. Software should be treated as "tangible personal property." Consumers should be permitted ownership of software that is purchased, as opposed to ownership of the media. Once a financial transaction has taken place, the consumer should own the product and use it as he sees fit (within legal guidelines). Software developers should not be permitted to impose usage restrictions upon products that are sold to consumers.