Software is now a fundamental part of our society. The legal system also plays a fundamental role in our society. The goal of this project is to examine the issue of software liability. In basic terms, liability is the assignment of legal responsibility. With respect to software, liability is the assignment of legal responsibility for errors associated with computer software.
The issue of software liability should be of utmost concern to computer professionals for two reasons. First, software liability law is in its early infancy. Now more than ever, computer professionals have the opportunity to exert influence in the software liability policy arena. Second, decisions made in this policy arena will have serious effects on the way in which software development is accomplished.
Thus, the underlying purpose of this project is to provide a comprehensive treatment of the issues of software liability in order to educate computer professionals and policy makers. This project also makes policy recommendations that should been seen as points of departure for further debate rather than definitive answers to the difficult questions posed by this field.
Our first goal is to explain the principles underlying liability rules. Suprisingly, many of these principles are rooted in an economic/utilitarian mode of thought.
PART 1: The economic and ethical foundations of liability law
The third part of our report contains the bulk of our reasearch and analysis. In this section, we cover every major legal issue associated with software liability as well as analyze different types of liability and the possibility of government regulation.
PART 2: Analysis of software liability rules.
To conclude, we synthesize the above work into a detailed set of policy recommendations that we feel should be implemented.
PART 3: Conclusions: Policy Recommendations
As a resource for further study, we provide links to many interesting sites associated with software liability. This section also provides insights into some of the more interesting issues of software liability.
PART 4 A summary of some of the key issues along with links to other resources.
On June 10, 1996 we will present this report at "CS201 Final Projects: A Conference on Ethical Issues Raised by Computing Technologies" in Room 300-300 at Stanford University.Here are the outlines used for the presentation.