IT managers are fighting a proposed US law that would exempt software houses from liability if their products fail to work.
Opponents claim the changes could double the sums large companies spend on software procurement.
The Software Publishers Association, together with large vendors such as Microsoft, is pushing to get a law passed in each US state that would dramatically reduce a supplier's liability if its products do not work and cause harm to the user company.
But a group made up of 2,700 top IT executives, called the Society for Information Management (SIM), has urged members to write letters to politicans to halt or modify proposed changes in state commerce laws.
The SIM pointed out the proposals would change Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code, which has been in place since before software was unbundled from hardware.
SIM officials agreed that the current law does have omissions when applied to software. For example, it does not take a clear position on whether licences for shrinkwrapped software are enforceable. But the group pointed out "that the omissions of the new law far outweigh those of the old law".
Changes in the law "overwhelmingly favour the vendor", SIM said.
For instance, under today's rules the vendor must specify any contract provisions that are different to the default rules - such as capping damages for liability to the user in a breach of warranty.
In contrast, the proposed law is filled with vendor friendly default provisions under which the user must insist on including what it needs in the transactions.
According to SIM member and attorney Susan Nycum, who is working to change the proposed law, vendors have lobbied successfully.
"Vendors were represented by well funded people who got the ear of the drafting committee," she said. "They presented a unified front."
Nycum also noted that one provision the group is fighting allows the supplier to turn off the software licence a company has paid for if it decides the licensee hasn't behaved appropriately.
"Licensers can be judge, jury and executioner," Nycum added. "Unless you pay the licenser an unspecified amount of money, it cuts off your licence."
The proposed changes would also make it easier for vendors to charge extra for goods and services now included as part of the base product, and to disable or remove software if users breached their contract, in the opinion of the vendor.
"This whole thing has been heavily supported by Microsoft," Nycum added.
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