If a new consumer protection proposal conceived by the European Commission (EC) is passed into law, software companies would be held liable for their products and will be covered by same laws which are applicable to tangible products like cars and washing machines.
In what many from the software industry describe as an absurd idea, two EC commissioners Viviane Reding and Meglena Kuneva have come forward with a proposal which places software in the same footing with other physical products.
Explaining their rationale behind the move, Kuneva in a statement mentioned “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”
Quite expectedly the software industry is up at arms against the idea with the Business Software Alliance coming up openly against it by mentioning that digital content cannot be treated on par with physical products.
Critics of the proposal point out that the fact that while a software many work well at the manufacturer’s site it is unlikely to perform in a similar manner, if it is operated in a different environment at the user place; moreover if the proposal comes into law, the price of software will increase by great degree as manufacturers will try to cover themselves from legal costs.
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This is a grey area as far as software developers are concerned. Often simply by opening a software box or by clicking on the "next" button of an installation button, users find themselves unable to challenge software companies. End User License Agreements are still unfortunately used by many as a way of protecting them when things go wrong.