Microsoft and Linux join forces over software warranties


Microsoft and Linux join forces over software warranties

Cliff Saran

Microsoft has joined forces with an old adversary, the Linux Foundation, to express concerns with the American Law Institute over a draft Principles of the Law of Software Contracts.

The American Law Institute has been working on legal principles to guide courts in deciding disputes involving transactions in software and to guide those drafting software contracts.

In an open letter, Horacio Gutlerrez, deputy general counsel at Microsoft and Karen Copenhaver, counsel to the Linux Foundation, raised concerns over the proposal by the America Law Institute (ALI) stating that software should have a warranty against "material hidden defects".

In a blog posting, Horacio Gutierrez said: "The ALI Principles are meant to provide guidance to judges and others as they interpret software licensing agreements. While the Principles reflect a lot of hard work and thought by the ALI, Microsoft and the Linux Foundation believe that certain provisions do not reflect existing law and could disrupt the well-functioning software market for businesses and consumers, as well as create uncertainty for software developers."

Software companies generally offer a disclaimer which states that they cannot be held responsible for how the software is used. Some industry commentators have argued that this disclaimer has allowed the software industry to continue to sell flawed product, which is unlike other industries where warranties cover defects in manufacturing or design.

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