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I'm wondering if there are any laws related to software development... Like, what if you're writing code for a digital pacemaker, or you're designing some other system that might have a profound effect on someone's life, or well-being...

Are there specific laws for that kind of thing?

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In what jurisdiction? This is a very international forum, so I'm leery of assuming a US body of law is intended. I am not a lawyer, so if you are seeking legal advice, you should consult with one of those. –  hardmath Dec 10 '11 at 2:41
    
The only legal questions that are on-topic here are questions about software licensing. For everything else (and even licensing sometimes), you should consult a lawyer. –  Anna Lear Dec 10 '11 at 4:23
    
Usually if you're programming something like that, you'll be doing it as part of a larger organization, and so you should ask somebody in the organization. That will almost certainly be legal advice from an actual lawyer familiar with the law in your jurisdiction (and, if it isn't, consider updating your resume). –  David Thornley Jan 4 '12 at 21:12
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closed as off topic by Anna Lear Dec 10 '11 at 4:23

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2 Answers

You may want to check out the "Legal Guide to Web and Software Development" : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Legal-Guide-Software-Development-ebook/dp/B00540FGQ4

Hope this helps!

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Not in the US or any other country I'm aware of. Of course, there's always civil law so a programmer could be sued for damages they cause.

So why are their laws for medical and legal malpractice but not for programming malpratice? I think it's because it hasn't developed into enough of a profession. For example, both of those professions have professional societies with the power to disbar their members and formalize best practices. Identifying the right thing to do is the first step toward writing laws to punish when they are ignored.

Most 'codes of software development' are informal documents on the web, 'manifestos' or 'considered harmful' documents.

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