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Research: Tort Liability For Software Developers

By 8 September 2010 One Comment

Tort Liability For Software Developers: A Law & Economics Perspective
Phoenix Center

T. Randolph Beard, PhD, George S. Ford, PhD,
Thomas M. Koutsky, Esq, Larence Spiwak, Esq.

July, 2010

Liability for accidents should generally be levied against all those who create risk factors.  And Phoenix Center examines if this is also the case with software developers.  They determined that there are two types of software, an intrinsic variety and an extrinsic variety.

In determining liability the scholars look at several issues:

  1. The Purpose and Development of Product Liability Rules
  2. The Hurdles of Applying Product Liability Law to Software
  3. Economics of Liability

The article concludes that applying liability ruling on software blindly is unwise.  Not all types of software are mass-produced goods. And some software will have more user input than others meaning defect can often come from use rather than being a manufacturing problem.  The authors feel that there may be some blanket treatment of liability for problems surrounding “intrinsic” software, but that “extrinsic” software should be treated on a case by case basis.

You can read the full article here.

One Comment »

  • Surge said:

    This does not bode well, are we as developers, going to have to start taking out liability insurance to cover a possible loss on a clients end. I guess this is all part and parcel of the “we have to have someone to blame” thinking that dominates our society. This is something that we need to keep on top of, thanks for the post.