ARCHIVED: 4cite Concerns with the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA)

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May 5, 2000

Chairman Linda W. Cropp
Council of the District of Columbia
Room 704
441 4th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Chairman Cropp:

We write urging you not to adopt bill number 13-607, the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) until all identified concerns have been addressed. For a Competitive Information and Technology Economy (4CITE) is a diverse coalition of manufacturing, technology and financial services companies and non-profit organizations which, as developers and end-users of computer information technology, have grave concerns about the UCITA legislation. We actively support the expansion of electronic commerce, but we believe that UCITA will not accomplish this goal. Indeed, we believe that passage of this legislation will be highly detrimental to consumers and businesses in the District of Columbia.

UCITA is controversial and complex and will grant broad new powers to software and information vendors at the expense of businesses and consumers. As currently drafted this legislation would:

  • Allow software and information vendors under certain circumstances to shut down mission-critical software remotely, without court approval and without liability;
  • Allow software vendors to avoid liability for damage caused by known defects in their software;
  • Allow software vendors to prohibit the transfer of software from one company to another, even in the course of a merger or acquisition;
  • Allow software vendors to impede the development of innovative products;
  • Allow software vendors to collect confidential information about businesses and consumers;
  • Allow the disclosure of license terms only after the customer has paid for the software
  • Deprive consumers of adequate legal remedies;
  • Dramatically shift the balance of existing contract law in favor of software vendors when contracting with businesses and consumers; and
  • Through "shrink-wrap" or click-on licenses, undermine libraries' abilities to preserve, make fair use of and lend information products.

The Attorneys General of 24 states and the prestigious American Law Institute have strongly criticized UCITA. Technology organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the Association for Computing Machinery, the American Committee for Interoperable Systems and the Society for Information Management oppose this piece of legislation. As you may be aware, the Maryland General Assembly recently enacted UCITA. While a few helpful amendments were adopted, much work remains to be done to correct the many inadequacies in the legislation. As supporters of equitable uniform contract law and electronic commerce, the members of 4CITE ask you to carefully consider the intentional and unintentional implications of UCITA.

Respectfully,

Skip Lockwood
Director

Membership of
For A Competitive Information and Technology Economy (4CITE)

American Association of Law Libraries
American Committee for Interoperable Systems
American Library Association
Art Libraries Society of North America
Association of Research Libraries
Caterpillar Inc.
Circuit City Stores Inc.
Commonwealth of Virginia State Networking Users Advisory Board
Computer & Communications Industry Association
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Conference on College Composition and Communication
Digital Future Coalition
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Infoworld
International Communications Association
John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company
Law Office of Cem Kaner
McLane Company Inc.
National Consumer Law Center
National Council of Teachers of English
National Humanities Alliance
Principal Financial Group
Prudential Insurance Company of America
Reynolds Metals Corporation
Society for Information Management
Special Libraries Association
Virginia Association of Law Libraries
Walgreens