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.
What is the history behind UCITA?
What Does UCITA Do?
The input received from a broad spectrum of business, consumers, state
bar groups, and the ABA
Act 2000 Draft of UCITA What is in the Uniform Computer Information
Why is UCITA Controversial?
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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.
Index of Topics