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The Digital Future Coalition Discusses the Controversies of UCITA, Fall 1999

[This page was not obtained from DFC. I was, instead, obtained from a different source which I trust. Aside from the title there is nothing to "confirm" that it is "from" them. I have not yet confirmed that this material is, in fact, from DFC.]

 

The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) is a model law sponsored by the National Council of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL). UCITA will be introduced in state legislatures across the United States. Hearings have already been held in Virginia and Oklahoma and discussions are beginning in Indiana and Tennessee. UCITA would govern contracts between manufacturers and consumers regarding nearly all "transactions in information." The broad definition of "computer information" would cover everything from copyrighted expressions such as stories, computer programs, images, music and web pages to intellectual property such as patents, trade secrets, and trademarks as well as online databases and interactive games.

 

UCITA is controversial because:

It replaces the public law of copyright with the private law of contract Under the public law of copyright, a vendor sells copies of information such as books or software. UCITA would allow for the "licensing" of information. Rather than owning a copy, you are granted permission to use the copy within limits dictated by the "license." When you purchase a license to use a piece of software for instance, you agree to a contract, that you are unable to read in advance or negotiate, governing everything from how the software is to be used to whether or nor you are allowed to publicly criticize the product. The public law of copyright comes with certain privileges such as fair use, the private law of contract does not.

The scope of UCITA is overly broad As stated above, the definition of computer information would cover nearly all things digital. Moreover, the UCITA framework would allow those items not covered by the original draft to "opt-in" or be governed by the UCITA.

UCITA enables "mass-market" or shrink-wrap/click-on licenses When you buy a piece of software or other information products, you buy the product without the capability to read the license. In some cases, the act of opening the box or "breaking the plastic wrapping" is consent to the terms of the license. This is a fundamentally unfair position because the licensee has no idea ahead of time concerning the terms and conditions laid-out in the license. UCITA would enable a vendor, such as a computer software company, to restrict a consumerŐs right to sue for a product defect, to donate the product to charity, to use the product, or even to publicly discuss or criticize the product or information contained in it.

UCITA would undercut fair use, preservation, and the unhindered use of works in the public domain Click-on/shrink-wrap licenses would supersede the traditional copyright balances that insure access to information; a key principle for the function of libraries.

UCITA would prevent reverse-engineering even in cases of interoperability Reverse-engineering allows software developers to make better products. Without this capacity, there is no guarantee that new programs will work together.


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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