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EC Wants Software Makers Held Liable for Code

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The European Commission is proposing that the European Union's consumer protections for physical products also cover software. Commissioners Viviane Reding and Meglena Kuneva say making software companies responsible for the security and efficacy of their products would ultimately improve consumer choice. "If we want consumers to shop around and exploit the potential of digital communications, then we need to give them confidence that their rights are guaranteed," Kuneva says. "That means putting in place and enforcing clear consumer rights that meet the high standards already existing in the main street."

The Business Software Alliance's Francisco Mingorance says the proposed regulatory extension would guarantee all software, including both proprietary and open-source software and beta products, for two years. Mingorance says that forcing software makers to guarantee their products for two years would limit consumer choice. He says software is different from tangible products in that its performance depends on its environment, whether the code is updated, whether the software can adapt and be modified, and whether the code is attacked. "Unlike tangible goods, creators of digital content cannot predict with a high degree of certainty both the product's anticipated uses and its potential performance," Mingorance says. "Extending the scope would force the businesses to maintain update services for such contracts beyond the contractual term and ultimately limit the choice of offers." The proposal also could reduce interoperability between software products, he says.

From ZDNet UK
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