The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) is a proposed state contract law
The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) is a proposed state contract law developed to regulate transactions in computer information products such as computer software, online databases, software access contracts or e-books. It was originally drafted over a four-year period from 1996-1999.
UCITA is destined for consideration by all fifty state legislatures, the District of Columbia and the American Territories. UCITA has become one of the most controversial uniform commercial laws. Since 2000 libraries have joined with a diverse coalition of partners including retail and manufacturing concerns, consumer advocates, insurance and financial institutions and other nonprofits in mounting strong opposition wherever UCITA has been considered.
UCITA is a proposed law to create a clear and uniform set of rules to govern such areas as software licensing, online access, and other transactions in computer information. It is intended to bring the same uniformity and certainty to the rules that apply to information technology transactions that the Uniform Commercial Code does for the sale of goods.
In particular, UCITA attempts to clarify and/or codify rules regarding fair use, reverse engineering, consumer protection and warranties, shrinkwrap licenses, and their duration as well as the transferability of licenses.
UCITA generally approves the validity of software licenses, including shrinkwrap and browsewrap agreements, as long as the user is given an opportunity to return the goods (at the seller’s expense) if the license terms are found objectionable.
The need for the UCITA set of law grew from the failure of the Uniform Commercial Code to adequately cover software transactions.
The UCITA has been extremely controversial and has been opposed by a number of consumer groups and the Attorneys General of many states because, in the opinion of these critics, it considerably weakens consumer protections, reinterprets contracts and licenses in such a way that is unduly favorable to the software producers, and disregards the reasonable entitlements of consumers.
While UCITA was originally submitted in 1999 as a proposed Uniform Act and modification to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) and the American Law Institute (ALI), it was withdrawn in 2002 after the ALI did not grant its assent.
Because of opposition, UCITA has only been passed in two states as of 2004 — Virginia and Maryland — efforts to pass the law in other states have been defeated.
An alternate approach to software law contracting was later attempted in the American Law Institute’s May 19, 2009 passage of its Principles of the Law of Software Contracts, which attracted similar controversy.Recent Posts
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