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Do i really have to tell somewhere in my game documents that "there is no warranty for this software for any damage" etc? I see it a lot in almost every program, if not all, but is it really necessary, can someone sue me if i forgot to add that line of text and their GFX card burns out when they play my graphics-intensive game? (because that has actually happened to me few times, i didnt sue anyone though).

(Someone can fix my tags, couldnt add new tags because of low score.)

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Keep in mind that you could legally swing the "graphics card burning out" to negligence on the user's/technician's behalf because they didn't, for example, ensure that there was adequate airflow inside the case - especially in the case of a user who isn't qualified to open their case. –  Jonathan Dickinson Jan 19 '12 at 10:54

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

As one example, under UK law it's clear that if you fail to exercise reasonable care in what you do, and it causes harm, then you can be held liable for the damage caused. (Especially in a business -> customer relationship, or similar, where there is some sort of contract.)

The bad news is that disclaimers don't tend to count for much in the UK (or in most non-US jurisidictions from what I've heard). So you may as well put them in, for the places where it does help, while bearing in mind that they don't nullify all your responsibility in others.

What you can do to protect yourself might involve setting the customer's expectations - for example, if your site says you are a one-man team making games in your spare time, and you aren't charging AAA prices for your game, then it's unlikely a judge would think it unreasonable for you to have more bugs than most other software of a similar nature.

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i like this answer, short and to the point and a nice advice. –  idev Jan 22 '12 at 0:55
    
It's unlikely that you would be under fault, seeing as how there is no way to cause permanent(or probably even temporary damage) from a game. Even with the graphics card it would be the drivers fault for overheating the graphics card, not the applications. The application cannot talk to any of the hardware, so there is no way for it to do damage. –  Programmdude Jan 19 at 13:13

I assume that you're based in the U.S.

I'm not a lawyer, and I imagine that these kinds of things vary from state to state, but here's what I know. Common sense dictates that you should verify all of this, however.

First, you can always be sued. A civil suit can be levied for any claim of damages exceeding $20. This is a constitutional provision, so it doesn't vary from state to state. Whether or not the plaintif will win is another question entirely.

I used to fix computers when I went to college and I got scared once that a client would try to sue me. I had an informal disclaimer (i.e., a document that was signed by the client that essentially stated I was not liable for any and all damages), but I didn't know what such things were worth. Fortunately, I did MMA with a guy who was a practicing corporate attorney. He told me the following:

  • Such terms of agreement, though not legally binding, go a hell of a long way in determining a tort in a civil suit. In other words, having a EULA should help insulate you from litigious worries.
  • The only thing that you can't really disclaim is negligence. In other words, if you screw up someone's computer because of a blatantly careless error, or if the client can convince the judge/jury that you didn't have reasonable quality control in place (e.g., absence of a bug tracker), you could be liable.

This friend of mine also said that while it's extremely difficult to disclaim negligence, it doesn't hurt to try. Just explicitly state that you disclaim all responsibility from any adverse effects of installing, executing, or uninstalling the software, including those arising from negligence.

I hope this helps!

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So in your opinion it IS important to ship these disclaimers with software? –  RSH1 Jan 19 '12 at 10:18
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Yes. I would ship a disclaimer for sure. My understanding (and again, everything I say should be taken with a huge grain of salt) is that disclaimers never hurt, and are often very helpful. –  blz Jan 19 '12 at 12:10
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im not from USA, does it mean i dont have to ship these? –  idev Jan 19 '12 at 13:27
    
@idev : I don't know. Again, I'm not an attorney. Once again, though, including such disclaimers cannot hurt. I would just disclaim responsibility for all damages including those arising from negligence. I would then add a clause to the effect of, "By installing this game, I declare having knowledge of my local laws and I agree only to install and execute this software if the terms of the EULA are not in conflict with said laws". But again, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. –  blz Jan 19 '12 at 14:58
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The biggest thing is, if you are in a position where you will be shipping a game. If you don't already have one. GET A LAWYER –  Noctrine Jan 20 '12 at 2:41

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