Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act
Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) was an attempt to introduce a Uniform Act for US States to follow. As a model law, it only specifies a set of guidelines, and each of the States should decide if to pass it or not, separately. UCITA has been drafted by National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL).
UCITA has been designed to clarify issues which were not addressed by existing Uniform Commercial Code. "Few disagree that the current Uniform Commercial Code is ill-suited for use with licensing and other intangible transactions," said practicing attorney Alan Fisch.
UCITA has only been passed in two states, Virginia and Maryland. The law did not pass in other states. Nevertheless, legal scholars, such as noted commercial law professor Jean Braucher, believe that the UCITA offers academic value.
A resolution recommending approval of UCITA by the American Bar Association (ABA) has been withdrawn by the NCCUSL in 2003, indicating that UCITA lacks the consensus which is necessary for it to become a uniform law.
UCITA focuses on adapting current commercial trade laws to the modern software era. It is particularly controversial in terms of computer software. The code would automatically make a software maker liable for defects and errors in the program. However, it allows a shrinkwrap license to override any of UCITA's provisions. As a result, commercial software makers can include such a license in the box and not be liable for errors in the software. Free software that is normally distributed through downloads, however, would not be able to force a shrinkwrap license and would therefore be liable for errors. Small software makers without legal knowledge would also be at risk.
UCITA would explicitly allow software makers to make any legal restrictions they want on their software by calling the software a license in the EULA, rather than a sale. This would therefore take away purchasers right to resell used software under the first sale doctrine. Without UCITA, courts have often ruled that despite the EULA claiming a license, the actual actions by the software company and purchaser clearly shows it was a purchase, meaning that the purchaser has the right to resell the software to anyone.
UCITA has started as an attempt to modify Uniform Commercial Code, by introducing new article (Article 2B), also known as UCC2B. Committee for drafting UCC2B consisted of both members from NCCUSL and members of American Law Institute (ALI). At certain stage of the process, ALI has withdrawn from the drafting process, effectively killing UCC2B. Afterwards, NCCUSL has renamed UCC2B into UCITA and proceeded on its own.
Before ratification, each state may amend its practices, thus specific effects may be somewhat different in each state. This means that the final "as read" UCITA document is what is actually passed and signed into law by each state governor. The passage record typically indicates each version of UCITA submitted for ratification.
- Maryland (passed April 2000): http://mlis.state.md.us/2000rs/billfile/hb0019.htm
- Virginia (passed 2000) : http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?001+ful+SB372ER
- Huggins, James S. (October 25, 2002). "UCITA: Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act". James S. Huggins' Refrigerator Door. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- Thibodeau, Patrick (August 11, 2003). "Sponsor's surrender won't end UCITA battle". Computerworld. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- Stallman, Richard (February 28, 2013) . "Why we must fight UCITA". The GNU Operating System. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- Foster, Ed (November 27, 2000). "A world with UCITA may allow fine print to outweigh the right thing". InfoWorld. Archived from the original on April 14, 2003. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- Toft, Dorte (July 12, 1999). "Opponents blast proposed U.S. software law". CNN. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- "UCITA withdrawn from the ABA". LWN.net. February 12, 2003. Retrieved June 8, 2013.