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The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (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 UCITA-like set of law grew from the failure of the Uniform Commercial Code to adequately cover software transactions. "Few disagree that the current Uniform Commercial Code is ill-suited for use with licensing and other intangible transactions," said practicing attorney Alan Fisch.[1]

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by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) and the American Law Institute (ALI), it was withdrawn in 2002 after the ALI did not grant its assent. The NCCUSL then responded by renaming the proposed UCC Article 2B as the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) and attempting to have it passed as law. Questions have also been raised regarding the inability of existing laws to cover computer software licensing and sales transactions — most critics of this act believe there are adequate mechanisms to not only protect consumers, but software manufacturers as well.

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.[1] Nevertheless, legal scholars, such as noted commercial law professor Jean Braucher, believe that the UCITA offers academic value.[1]

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.

See also: List of Uniform Acts (United States)

Passage Record

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.

References

External links








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