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When Software Attacks! March 31, 2009

Posted by markgeil in Philosophical musings.

In preparation for tomorrow’s infamous “April Fool’s Day Computer Worm”, a bit of software levity.

I got a new voice recorder in preparation for my many many interviews at GMA week, and I had to install the software that lets me download the recordings. On a whim, I glanced through the “License Agreement” that everyone has to agree to but no one ever actually reads. Seriously, they could list their right to your firstborn child and you would happily agree.

Here’s what I found in Sony’s license agreement for Digital Voice Editor:

The SOFTWARE is not fault-tolerant and is not designed, manufactured or intended for use or resale as on-line control equipment in hazardous environments requiring fail-safe performance, such as in the operation of nuclear facilities, aircraft navigation or communication systems, air traffic control, direct life support machines, or weapons systems, in which the failure of the SOFTWARE could lead to death, personal injury, or severe physical or environmental damage.”

So, if I get this straight, Sony’s lawyers are sitting around a table (a large, walnut conference room table, methinks), discussing what calamities might befall them if someone misuses this software. Lawyer 1 says, “What does this software do again?”

Lawyer 2 replies, “It downloads voice recordings from a little voice recorder thing.”

Lawyer 1 is shocked, and says, “Whereas! Be it resolved!” (Lawyers talk like that.) “What if someone uses it to operate nuclear weapons systems? We could be sued!”

Well, I agreed to Sony’s limitation, and I can no longer use this software to start WWIII.

Makes me think of that computer in WarGames: “Shall we play a game?”

And just in case you were worried, thinking, “Sure, Mark, YOU might not start WWIII with your recorder software, but what about THE FRENCH!”

Fear not. The warning was repeated, in French:

“à l’utilisation ou à la revente à titre de matériel de contrôle électronique dans les environnements dangereux nécessitant une performance à sécurité absolue, comme le fonctionnement des installations nucléaires.”



1. Dave Sloan - April 2, 2009

Maybe they’re concerned that you might try to use their software to save the world from Aliens and they’d be liable for the cleanup. You might want to check the license agreement for Powerpoint before you talk to any screenwriters and/or Robert Pattinson or Aerosmith.

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