Intellectual Property - Licensing - Cyberlicenses  


Study Guide

What is UCITA?

    UCITA is the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act, and was developed by the National Conference of Comissioners on Uniform State Laws.  It is a uniform commercial code for software licenses and other computer information transactions.  UCITA puts information age industries on a par with the sellers of goods by codifying the legal rules applicable to contracts for their products.  UCITA provides legal rules for agreements covering all kinds of computer information, such as standard software licenses, contracts for the custom development of computer programs, a license to access an online database, and a website user agreement.  UCITA originated as a new article -- Article 2B -- to the Uniform Commercial Code (the "UCC").  In 2000, UCITA was passed by two states: Maryland and Virginia. 
    1. What is the history behind UCITA? 
    2. What Does UCITA Do? The input received from a broad spectrum of business, consumers, state bar groups, and the ABA 
    3.  Final Act 2000 Draft of UCITA What is in the Uniform Computer Information Trasaction Act? 

Why is UCITA Controversial?

    1. UCITA represents a movement toward licensing of information in its many forms and away from the sale of copies as traditionally understood under copyright law. UCITA would enforce the broad use of "shrink-wrap" and computer "click-on" licenses. By licensing rather than selling something, a vendor can wield more control of the downstream use of the product. Placing new constraints on the use of information in mass-market transactions can, in turn, constrain the use of information for important public purposes such as democratic speech, education, scientific research, and cultural exchange. Many believe that UCITA fails to appreciate the strong public interest in prohibiting new restrictions on information exchange. 
    2. The scope of UCITA is extremely broad. "Computer information," under UCITA, includes everything from copyrighted expression, such as stories, computer programs, images, music and web pages; to other traditional forms of intellectual property such as patents, trade secrets, and trademarks; to newer digital creations such as online databases and interactive games. Although the statute claims to be limited to information in electronic form, it allows other transactions to "opt-in" to being governed by UCITA. 
    3. Many legal community commentators are of the opinion that UCITA  is not necessary or, at least, it is premature. This view is based on the opinion that existing common law and copyright law are developing appropriately to handle the new types of information-based transactions emerging in the information economy. 

The Benefits of UCITA 

    UCITA provides a unified body of law applicable to software and information license transactions.  It will clarify that shrink-wrap and click-wrap license agreements are enforceable.  It rejects the "perfect tender" rule for commercial licenses.  It contains a comprehensive scheme dealing with electronic commerce.  It provides implied warranties for informational content.  It contains provisions dealing with the licensors electronic control of the license. 
    1.  Benefits for Businesses 
    2.  Benefits for Consumers 

UCITA stands for Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (full text here). It is an update to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), Article 2B, designed to adapt existing commercial law to better suit the new online economy. It has found support from several major sources such as Microsoft and Adobe. However, not a single consumer organization supports the act. In fact, there are many sources of information on why one should not support its enactment. Its complete recreation of commercial law for online purposes brings up several logical and ethical questions to consider:

  • What should and shouldn't be considered a legally binding contract? Come up with some reasons 
  • Does the government need to give these rights to vendors? (Scroll to bottom of page for problems with UCITA)
  • What does the government need to do to bring commercial law up to speed?
  • Who stands to gain rights from UCITA?
  • Who stands to suffer a loss of rights from UCITA? (hint: look here, here, and here.)

UCITA Happy Study Fun Time!
Your mission: Read the UCITA Car joke. For each disclaimer, find the relevant "problems" with UCITA to which it refers. This will prepare you for UCITA Happy Test Fun Time.

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