Principles of the Law of Software Contracts: Some Highlights

18 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2010

See all articles by Robert A. Hillman

Robert A. Hillman

Cornell Law School

Maureen A. O'Rourke

Boston University School of Law

Date Written: February 17, 2010


The final draft of the Principles of the Law of Software Contracts ("Principles") was unanimously approved by the American Law Institute membership in May of 2009. The goal of the project is to “clarify and unify the law of software transactions.” However, the Principles will not become law in any jurisdiction unless and until a court adopts them, so only time will tell whether the project will accomplish this goal. Nevertheless, one thing is certain. The current law of software transactions, a mish-mash of common law, Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code, and federal intellectual property law, among other things, is in dire need of improvement. This should not be a surprise. Most of the bodies of law that courts draw upon to decide software contract cases predate software and are not responsive to its needs. But software transactions are too important to be relegated to a second-hand legal-subject-matter status.

In this symposium essay for the Tulane Law Review, we discuss the nature of the Software Principles and describe some of what we believe are highlights. By highlights, we mean not only Principles that we believe are helpful contributions to the goal of clarification and unification of software contract law, but also those that have already received some attention because of their controversial nature.

Keywords: software, Principles, disclosure, automated disablement

Suggested Citation

Hillman, Robert A. and O'Rourke, Maureen A., Principles of the Law of Software Contracts: Some Highlights (February 17, 2010). Tulane Law Review, Forthcoming, Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 010-003, Available at SSRN:

Robert A. Hillman (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-4902 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

Maureen A. O'Rourke

Boston University School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-353-3123 (Phone)
617-353-3077 (Fax)

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