As the software infrastructure has been going through chaos, reporters (and others) have been called me several times to ask what our software-related legal rights are now and what they should be.
I propose 10 rules that are more modest than other suggestions but that could go a long way toward restoring integrity and trust — and consumer confidence, consumer excitement, and sales — in this stalled marketplace.
1. Let the customer see the contract before the downloading, paying for, or using the product.
2. The vendor must disclose known defects.
3. The product (or information service) must live up to the manufacturer's and seller's claims.
4. User has right to see and approve all transfers of information from her computer.
5. A software vendor may not block customer from accessing his own data without court approval.
6. A software vendor may not prematurely terminate a license without court approval.
7. Mass-market customers may criticize products, publish benchmark study results, and make fair use of products.
8. The user may reverse engineer the software.
9. Mass-market software should be transferrable.
10. When software is embedded in a product, the law governing the product should govern the software.