Telecom legal spokeswoman Anna Hughes has replied to Computerworld questions on treating software supply as a service rather than a “good”, as submitted by Telecom in response to the proposed Consumer Protection (Definition of Goods and Services) Bill.
Firstly a number of the factors on which claims can be made for goods simply do not make sense when applied to software, she says. “For example, you do not provide 'spare parts' for software," she asserts, despite the existence of “service packs”.
The second major point, she says, is that "the ownership of the software is retained by the software company. The consumer only gets a right to use intellectual property. The goods guarantees are based on the assumption the consumer is buying the actual tangible object."
Computerworld’s comparison of a book purchase still does not take software any closer to “goods”, Hughes says. You could sell your copy of a book, “despite the fact that you would not own the intellectual property recorded in the book”, she says. Most shrinkwrap conditions for software prohibit on-selling the item.
But Hughes is silent in response to Computerworld’s suggestion that many of the “services” guarantees, such as requiring the work to be done in a given time, and otherwise being entitled to have it done by someone else, are equally inconsistent with software.
“This question is probably really best answered by the minister's office, either [Jim] Anderton or [Laila] Harré, who introduced the bill,” she says.