There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the "software as a service" 
concept. In fact, properly implemented, it could be an improvement over the 
more common product concept.

I'm going to assume that the proposed law discussed here does not 
circumvent the basic principle that to be enforceable, a contract provision 
must be so clearly stated that a reasonable reader of the contract will not 
misunderstand it. The responsibility (and cost) of unclarity in a contract 
rests with the one who wrote it.

If, when we decide we want to become, for example, PADS users, we are 
clearly informed -- and not just by fine print -- that we are buying the 
use of the software for a specified period and not beyond that period, then 
we are making a choice to employ the services of the software company for 
that time. We will still have remedies under common law where the new law 
has not clearly preempted those rights. For example, if I sign a contract 
for services, and then I am unable to perform those services, or I perform 
them so badly that testimony could be brought and believed that what I did 
was against prevailing standards, then my client has a right to refund even 
if he has paid for the full period in advance. This is true if time is of 
the essence; otherwise I might avoid making this refund if I make good on 
the contract.

(If I am hired as an employee and not as a professional contractor, then 
the employer is fully responsible for any errors or failures and he must 
pay me as agreed up until I am terminated -- unless my failures are shown 
to be willfully negligent or worse, which changes the game. Generally 
employees have a right to be paid, they are first in line of a company goes 
bankrupt.)

So if I don't like the contract which the seller of software services is 
proposing, I don't have to buy it, I'll look elsewhere. I specifically 
returned a PADS license because it explicitly permitted PADS to repossess 
the software if maintenance was not paid.

Protel has done nothing like that, they are not anything like that stupid.

On the other hand, if the entry price goes way down, software as a service 
could be a great idea, and especially if the payment is, say, monthly. If 
it were not for the entry price (plus the learning curve), I might buy an 
Allegro license, it might actually be worth $800 per month. There is a high 
demand for Allegro design and few independent designers able to fill it.

There is a company working on this model, Tsien, the Boardmaker people. The 
product is not on a level with Protel, but it is very good for the price, 
which is a yearly payment, I think, which is quite low. No extra startup 
cost except your own training.
[EMAIL PROTECTED]
Abdulrahman Lomax
Easthampton, Massachusetts USA

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