Software Developer Liability Up For Debate In Europe
from the this-again... dept
A few years ago, there was a lot of attention paid to the question of whether or not software developers should be liable for bugs and security holes found in their software — with some even suggesting that “lemon laws” should be extended to cover software products, allowing people to return software that was excessively buggy. In a 2005 discussion on the subject, we suggested that adding such liability wouldn’t do much good, because software will pretty much always be buggy in some form or another. While we hadn’t heard much on the issue lately, it appears that it’s back up for debate in Europe, where the European Commission wants to make developers liable for buggy code.
What’s really odd here is the reasoning being given, as one of the commissioners backing the plan claims: “more accountability for software makers, and for companies providing digital services, would lead to greater consumer choice.” Really? Increasing liability would increase consumer choice? Somehow I doubt it.
While I can understand the argument that buggy software is bad, and it sucks when people buy something that is less than promised, it’s difficult to see what a law can do to fix it. This really does seem like a case where the market is better suited to fix the problem. If you build a buggy product, that is just an opening for someone else to build a better product.