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UCITA

Public Policy Priorities
2003 Legislative Session

Objective

Defeat passage of UCITA in the states, support passage of anti-UCITA bomb-shelter bills, and advance an alternative proposal for Non-Negotiable Terms and Conditions in the Sale or Transfer of Computer Software and other Digital Works. 

IEEE-USA Position/Status

In Feb. 2000, the IEEE-USA Board of Directors adopted a  position statement Opposing Adoption of the Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act (UCITA) By the States.

On 9 Aug 2002, IEEE-USA released a statement confirming that IEEE-USA continues to oppose UCITA despite amendments adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) at their annual meeting.

In support of our anti-UCITA position, IEEE-USA has issued the following policy communications:

  • Response to Florida Representative Chris Hart recommending that the Florida legislature reject the model Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA). (26 Oct. 2001)
  • Letter to the Virginia JCOTS UCITA Advisory Committee endorsing proposed amendments by Mark Pruett of Virginia Linux Systems to the Virginia Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act. (7 Nov. 2000)
  • Letter to the Virginia JCOTS UCITA Advisory Committee endorsing proposed amendments by IEEE member Tamara Maddox to the Virginia Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (7 Nov. 2000)
  • Statement to the Virginia JCOTS UCITA Advisory Committee proposing an amendment (concerning use of computer software with competing products) to the Virginia Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act.  (2 Nov. 2000)
  • Statement to the Virginia JCOTS UCITA Advisory Committee proposing amendments to the Virginia Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act. (17 Oct. 2000)
  • Letter to the Federal Trade Commission on the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) in response to the FTC's High-Tech Warranty Project Notice (Comment, P994413).  (11 Sept. 2000)
  • Letter to Okahoma Representatives Opio Toure and Jari Askins expressing concerns regarding the Oklahoma Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (S.B. 1337) (28 March 2000)
  • Letter to District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams and Councilmember Sharon Ambrose expressing concerns regarding the District of Columbia Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (Bill 13-607) (20 March 2000)
  • Letter to Maryland General Assembly expressing concerns regarding the Maryland Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (H.B. 19, S.B. 142) (6 March 2000)
  • IEEE-USA Letter to Maryland Delegate Kumar Barve concerning Maryland House Bill 19 and forwarding IEEE-USA's position statement Opposing Adoption of UCITA By the States. (22 Feb. 2000)
  • IEEE-USA Letter to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws concerning the proposed Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act (UCITA). (20 July 1999)
  • Letter to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws Concerning Treatment of Reverse Engineering in the Proposed Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code.  (9 Oct. 1998)

Legislative Outlook

Modified UCITA laws have been adopted in Maryland and Virginia with amendments (including changes proposed or endorsed by IEEE-USA).  During 2001-2002, UCITA bills were introduced in several states but no action was taken.  UCITA bomb-shelter bills have been adopted in Iowa, North Carolina and West Virginia.  In Nov. 2001, the NCCUSL UCITA Stand-By Committee meet to consider amendments to UCITA intended to make it more acceptable to the states.  Those amendments have generated controversy and are pending approval by NCCUSL at its annual meeting in August 2002.  In January 2002, the American Bar Association's Working Group on UCITA released a report calling for significant modifications to UCITA.  A coalition of 32 State Attorney's General continue to oppose UCITA.

During its annual meeting in August 2002, NCCUSL approved a series of amendments to the model UCITA law, reflecting changes already adopted in Maryland and Virginia.  Among the amendments, state consumer protection laws would take priority over UCITA; reverse engineering for interoperability is specifically recognized as legitimate, and a general exemption is offered for open source software.  A petition was circulated among NCCUSL commissioners that would have dropped UCITA from "uniform" law to "model" law status, but it did not come to a final vote.  The AFFECT Coalition remains opposed to UCITA as amended, and spokespersons for the American Bar Association note that ABA continues to have problems with the model law...more.

During the 2003 legislative session, UCITA was introduced in Oklahoma but tabled in committee.  UCITA was introduced by Washington, DC Mayor Anthony Williams last year, but has seen no action by the DC Council.  UCITA sponsors may introduce legislation in Arizona, Delaware, Nevada, Texas, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Utah. Bomb-shelter legislation is being considered in Massachusetts and explored in Minnesota.  For current legislative status, see the American Library Association's UCITA State by State update.

Information Resources

IEEE-USA does not necessarily endorse the views expressed in these resources, but provides them for the information of our members: 

Also see:

Cem Kaner, J.D., Ph.D., Software Engineering and UCITA (328Kb PDF), originally published in the Journal of Computer and Information Law, Vol. 18, #2, Winter 1999/2000 and reprinted here with the author's permission.

How You Can Help

Educate yourself on the issues and legislation.  Communicate your views to your state senators or representatives through visits or letters.  


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Last Updated: 29 September 2011
Staff Contact: Bill Williams, bill.williams@ieee.org

Copyright 2003 The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
Permission to copy granted for non-commercial uses with appropriate attribution.