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What Is UCITA?

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is UCITA?

The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA)* is a proposed uniform law that would create new rules for software licensing, online access and other transactions in computer information. UCITA was originally a joint project of the American Law Institute (ALI) and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. However, ALI withdrew its support in the final drafting stages, due to numerous problems with the proposed draft.

*UCITA is not to be confused with UETA, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.

How bad is UCITA?

Pretty bad. After all, in a majority of states, the leading legal official, the Attorney General, is urging legislators not to make UCITA law. The concern comes from the overwhelming power of the software designer and the lack of recourse for the public and the consumer. Simply by installing or unwrapping a new package of software, consumers can surrender the right for refunds and even the right to criticize the product. Not even used-car dealers can come close to getting away with that.

Click here to learn more about the problems with UCITA.

How does UCITA change software and informational purchases?

First, under UCITA, the software purchased would no longer belong to the buyer -- UCITA allows consumers to become licensees who are bound to the terms of the contract provided in "shrink-wrap" products or "click-on" agreements. UCITA further allows these restrictions on use to be revealed or changed after the user purchases the software. UCITA then allows software publishers to prohibit the transfer of software from one person to another or from one company to another, even in the course of a merger or acquisition.

Can software publishers knowingly ship defective products?

Yes. UCITA allows software publishers to sell their products "as is" and to disclaim liability for product shortcomings. Imagine buying a refrigerator or stove where the producer does not guarantee that the product will work correctly! If the consumers wants to sue over a defect, UCITA allows the software publisher to restrict legal action to a specific jurisdiction -- a particular county, state or even a different country.

Can software publishers remotely shut down an organization's mission critical software?

Yes. UCITA expressly authorizes a software publisher, in a dispute over license rights, to remotely shut down an organization's mission critical software without court approval -- in many cases shielding the software publisher from liability for the harm caused.

Does UCITA address privacy issues?

UCITA actually permits invasions of privacy. It allows software publishers to legally track and collect confidential information about personal and business activities of licensees. Additionally, because it allows software and information products to contain "back door" entrances, user's systems can potentially become vulnerable to infiltration by unauthorized hackers.

Who opposes UCITA?

26 Attorneys General
Software developers
Every consumer advocacy organization that has looked at it
Large software customers
Other independent information content developers (writers, photographers)
Many law professors

Click here for a comprehensive list.

How do I fight UCITA?

This Web site is filled with information and resources for those who want to stop UCITA from becoming law. Visit our Action Kit and find out how to contact your legislators, how to spread the word, and, if interested, how to donate.

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