AOL Needs To Pay For Damaging Computers

from the trying-to-pass-the-buck dept

Back when AOL 5.0 came out, there was a big fuss over the fact that it was frying some users’ computers. AOL eventually reached a settlement with a bunch of users who were suing and then sent the bill to their insurance company, figuring that’s what they paid the insurance company for. The insurance company said no way, so that case had to go to court. The three judge panel has now decided that the insurance policy doesn’t cover writing bad software that fouls up users’ machines, and it’s AOL’s responsibility to pay.

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Comments on “AOL Needs To Pay For Damaging Computers”

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Rick Colosimo (user link) says:

Re: Re: A great precedent to set!

1. The story refers to insurance coverage of the software defect, not any underlying liability to the end-user.

2. Non-physical, purely economic harm, e.g., a crash that corrupts your data, is something that you’re supposed to be able to negotiate on your own as a contract matter without needing the state to protect you.

3. Physical harm to a person is something that you’re not allowed to negotiate away, and companies can’t get out of that sort of liability no matter what they put in a contract. This is one reason why if you do read an EULA every now and then, you will see a reference to the software not being suitable for truly critical systems, e.g., nuclear facilities, heart monitors, etc.

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