Copyright and Code

Oh for fuck’s sake. It turns out that writing code is now something you can be held liable for. (I am, I admit, putting the cart before the horse. It is possible that the case will get thrown out. Except that the US courts have not shown an appetite to do that in recent years.)

In short: in addition to suing the a company that made P2P software, it’s suing two of the developers individually. If it succeeds, it means that developers can be held personally liable for the use that their code is put to. Suddenly, the open source movement would be in serious trouble. Hell, I personally would have reservations about releasing software to clients, since there is a remote possibility that their use of it might break laws. There’s nothing in any CMS I’ve written that would prevent a client using it to distribute copyright material, and there’s no practical way to make sure there is. And it’s not just their business, or even my employer that’s liable. It’d be me, personally, as the bloke that wrote the code.

Apparently is this case it is the guns that kill people, and not people.

Can anyone please explain to me how this might considered a decent thing to do? I mean, I know there are lawyers reading this journal. And while I understand that they have a responsibility to their employer, do they not, as humans, have a much fucking broader responsibility to not file suits that have the potential to fuck *everyone* in the ear?

I’m not being rhetorical here – somebody, please, answer the question, because I’m utterly fucking stumped. I honestly don’t know how someone can possibly thing that holding developers personally liable for the uses to which the code is put can be a good idea. Can frankly, be anything other that mind-numbingly malevolent stupidity.

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