Hardware and Software: Protecting Your Rights

When it comes to technology, protecting yourself from a legal angle is always a little bit different to other sectors. This is because, a lot of the time, you only own a licence rather than a product. You don’t have access to the company, or developer, schematics or internal components.


As a result you need other ways to protect yourself if something was to go wrong. Of course, this is slightly different for both hardware and software, so it helps to be aware of each. When you have a strong reliance on either, this level of protection becomes pivotal in protecting yourself and your rights.


Hardware is difficult because, even though you can buy the product, you don’t technically own the internal architecture. This is part of the reason for having longer warranties on electrical goods; whilst you can’t fix them, the company that provided the product has a duty to offer and provide a working product and service for the foreseeable future.

Of course, disagreements can occur; this is when Hardware Escrow can prove to be particularly useful. This works like traditional escrow, except the provider puts the hardware up for escrow, rather than financial assets. This makes legal disagreements quicker, as the actual hardware is now in the hands of the escrow agency, acting as neutral third party in accordance with the law. Yet the act of trust is usually enough to suffice; any company willing to put their vital hardware up for escrow is clearly dedicated to providing a working product.


Similar to hardware, it may be that you also have a strong reliance on certain software. Again, there is a similar situation whereby you don’t own the product itself. With software, you only own a licence, gained by entering an end user agreement with the provider. This works in a similar fashion to hardware. You don’t own the source code or secrets of the product and, in return, the provider has to uphold their end of the agreement to provide and maintain a working piece of software.

Escrow also works in the same way here, with software escrow taking the software and keeping secure hold of it. During disagreements, this can help to deliver the software to the individual or group which is deemed legally entitled. Again, however, one can also argue the simple trust fact in finding software providers willing to put their sensitive code into an escrow account.