[long] Legal traps in open source

Steve Jenkin sjenkin at pcug.org.au
Fri Nov 1 04:49:36 EST 2002

Alex Satrapa wrote: [[Thu, 31 Oct 2002 11:02:53 +1100]]
> AFAIK, current standards of liability look only at actual harm caused
> and actual dollars lost.  Until we find a way to represent the cost of
> lost data as lives or dollars (the latter being more important in the
> Australian legal system), there's no real way to estimate the damages
> (or potential damages) arising from, say, Microsoft Outlook.

Count the cost in _time_ per event, the number of events, take the minimum wage,
multiply by the number of suckers^Wcustomers that would be the total damages for a
class action...

Why didn't Ford fix the Bronco II or the Explorer?  Wouldv'e cost them more money
than paying accident settlements.

This whole game is because the feedback loop is broken - the vendors do NOT wear
the financial costs of their actions/decisions.  

Commercial software is currently a "Consequence Free" area.  They could do
better.  Time for a change?

> Microsoft's stance of, "you should protect yourself better" makes as
> much sense as Ford saying, "don't have accidents if you drive a Pinto!"

[[MS et al never question the reason for Free Software - it is _exactly_ 'Market
Forces' at work!  If what they sold was reasonable and reasonably priced, (almost)
NOBODY would bother rewriting their stuff!!  We'd all be off extending their
wonderful systems and getting real work done.]]
The fact that there _is_ free/open-source, that it is a strongly growing force,
and it performs as well/better in most areas attests to the greed, complacency or
incompetence of the commercial vendors.  The Rule of Market Forces :-)

The marketplace now has another benchmark to compare commercial software against.
For years the Mac defined a much better standard of product [in reliability,
usability, compatibility, features].
Open Source is now REDEFINING 'Merchantable Quality' :-) especially in terms of
security, reliability, performance, compatibility...


Steve Jenkin, Unix Sys Admin
PO Box 48, Kippax, ACT 2615
0412 786 915

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