HC Deb 01 March 1991 vol 186 cc654-5W
Miss Emma Nicholson

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will make it his policy to seek amendment to the EC software directive to ensure that major vendors of computer software are not able to impose substantial charges on software users to allow them to alter or copy this software for legitimate maintenance purposes;

(2) if he will make it his policy to seek amendment to the EC draft software directive to ensure that providers of software programs do not become legally entitled to prohibit their customers from correcting errors in such software;

(3) what assessment his Department has made of the implications of the EC draft software directive upon reproduction, adaptation or alteration to update application programs to (a) conform to new operating systems, (b) correct virus problems, (c) solve problems in a multi-vendor environment, (d) adjust their systems to incorporate into a network and (e) alter their software to incorporate new devices.

Mr. Leigh

A common position has been reached on the directive, which is currently awaiting a Second Reading in the European Parliament. It is not open to member states to propose amendments at this stage. The directive in its present form will not result in any substantial changes to United Kingdom law and so will have little impact on the legal environment in which software is supplied and used. Under existing law, it is open to the suppliers of software to prohibit error correction by the user, to charge for maintenance, and to control reproduction, adaptation and alteration of the program by appropriate contractual terms. Insofar as the directive has any impact, the supplier's freedom to control use of the program in this way will be reduced by the terms of articles 5 and 6 of the directive.

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