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. Release from Digital Future Coalition on Microsoft Decision and UCITA

November 12, 1999

 

Contact:
Jonathan Band (202) 887-1555
Skip Lockwood (202) 533-2004

 

Judge Jackson's recent decision in the Microsoft antitrust case underscores the problems posed by the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA), which several states have begun to consider enacting.

Judge Jackson found that Microsoft was able to use its market power to dictate license terms on some of the world's largest information technology companies. This demonstrates that in the software market in particular, and the information market generally, dominant companies are able to impose onerous license terms on consumers and corporate licensees. UCITA exacerbates this problem by legitimizing these onerous license terms.

For example:

  • UCITA would allow a software vendor to escape liability for damage caused by defects known by the vendor at the time the software is shipped.
  • UCITA would allow a software vendor to prevent licensees from publicly criticizing the software.
  • UCITA would allow a software vendor to exercise "self help" against a licensee it believed to be violating the terms of the license, and then escape liability for any damage caused, even if it turns out that the licensee had not violated the license. "Self help" could involve disabling the operation of mission critical software at a hospital or bank.
  • UCITA would make it easier for a software vendor to prevent "reverse engineering" necessary for interoperability and innovation.
  • UCITA would allow a provider of information in digital form to prevent a consumer from selling her copy of the information.

While these aspects of UCITA are bad for consumers, they have an even more negative impact on large corporate users. For this reason, many life insurance companies and manufacturers have opposed UCITA.

Further, when UCITA was before the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) this past summer, it was opposed by over 20 state attorneys general, including some of the AG's involved in the Microsoft antitrust litigation. Despite the opposition of the AGs and the Federal Trade Commission, NCCUSL adopted UCITA at the urging of Microsoft and other large software companies.

According to Skip Lockwood, the coordinator of the Digital Future Coalition, "UCITA encourages software companies and other information providers to abuse their market position to harm consumers and impede innovation."


UCITA Pages On
James S. Huggins' Refrigerator Door

UCITA: Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act 
(This is the primary UCITA page.)
 
Home Box Office
Memo Spring 1998 (?)
 
45 Professors of Contracts and Commercial Law Letter 16.Jul.1999
 
Motion Picture Association of America Letter 10.Sep.1998
 
50 Intellectual Property Law Professors Letter 17.Nov.1998
 
Motion Picture Association of America Letter 09.Nov.1998
 
American Bar Association Letter 10.Jun.1999 
 
Motion Picture Association of America Letter 07.Dec.1998
 
American Committee on Interoperable Systems Letter 13.Jul.1998
 
Motion Picture Association of America Letter 10.May.1999
 
American Committee on Interoperable Systems Letter 07.Oct.1998
 
Movie, Publishing and Broadcasting Industry Letter 10.Sep.1999
 
American Committee on Interoperable Systems Letter 21.Jun.1999
 
National Music Publishers Association Letter 21.Jan.1999
 
American Committee on Interoperable Systems email 15.Jul.1999
 

Opposition Summary 
 
American Law Institute Letter 26.Mar.1999
 
 
Pamela Samuelson Letter 09.Jul.1999
 
Association of the Bar of the City of New York Report 21.Jun.1999
 
Principal Financial - Introduction to UCITA
 
 
Attorneys General Letter 23.Jul.1999
 
Principal Financial - Summary of UCITA
 
 
Attorneys General Letter 28.Jul.1999
 
Recording Industry Association of America Letter 09.Oct.1998
 

Attorneys General Letter 23.Jul.1999 
 
 
Sample Letter 


Caterpillar Statement 1999
 
 
Security Mutual Insurance Letter 26.May.1999
 

Consumer Groups Letter 10.Nov.1998 
 
Society for Information Management Letter 23.Mar.1998
 
 
Consumers Union Letter 08.Oct.1998
 
 
Society for Information Management Letter 08.Oct.1998
 
 
Consumers Union Letter 21.Jun.1999
 
Software engineering Institute Letter 01.Jun.1999
 
Digital Future Coalition Letter 23.Jun.1999
 
 
swtest-discuss Letter 20.Nov.1998
 

Digital Future Coalition Page Fall 1999
 


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