|From: Carl Webb email@example.com
Date: Mon, Sep 11, 2000 7:21 PM
Subject: Software warranty protection
Please find enclosed my comments on warranty protection for high-tech products and services, as solicited on the FTC web page http://www.ftc.gov/os/2000/05/hightechforum.htm.
1. Why should software and related high-tech services have fundamentally different principles of contract law than other industries? There are surely ways of recognizing and applying emerging technologies that do not deprive consumers of rights they have long had and have come to expect.
2. So-called "shrinkwrap" software licenses are abhorrent from a consumer viewpoint. They cannot typically be reviewed before purchase; if a customer does not agree to the license, the usual proposed remedy is to return the software. Of course, most major retailers of software have policies preventing the return of opened software packages, so the return would have to be to the manufacturer. This burden undoubtedly causes most consumers just to accept the license.
3. Furthermore, the terms of such licenses typically contain protections to the manufacturer's intellectual property that greatly exceed the norms for other industries such as publishing. For instance, they tend not to recognize fair use issues.
4. As to warranty protection itself, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and for that matter, the Uniform Commercial Code, have brought about great benefits to consumers, and efforts such as UCITA to weaken their protections would be a tremendous step backwards.
5. The prevailing opinion seems to be that reliability in the software industry is lower than in other high-tech fields such as consumer electronics, or for that matter, in the manufacture of the very computers the software runs on. It seems obvious that shielding software manufacturers from liability is not the best way to encourage their industry to mature.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments.