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May 19, 2009

Microsoft, Linux oppose software products warranty

ALI-proposed non-disclaimable warranties raise issues with software developers

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft and Linux Foundation have joined hands to submit a letter to the American Law Institute (ALI) regarding the ALI’s proposed implied warranty on software products that ship without any defects.

The ALI proposes that two new non-disclaimable warranties be added to best practice guidelines for software licensing. One warranty would make software developers liable for infringing on patents and copyrights while the other would make contributors to open-source software liable for material defects in the software, ChannelWeb reported.

Jim Zemlin, chief of Linux Foundation, said: The principles outlined by the ALI interfere with the natural operation of open source licenses and commercial licenses as well by creating implied warranties that could result in a tremendous amount of unnecessary litigation which would undermine the sharing of technology.

John Locke, principal consultant at Freelock Computing, said: Legislation that imposes a burden of providing a warranty against defects would seem to go against the General Public License (GPL), which would mean people couldn’t use GPL software wherever this ALI principle was applied.

“The ALI’s proposal would also take away commercial software vendors’ ability to draw up End User License Agreements (EULAs) that distance themselves from any kind of warranty that their software is bug-free.”

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