The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act: Ethical Issues in Software Contract Law

What is UCITA?

The Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act (UCITA) is a proposed state contract law designed to standardize the licensing of software and all other forms of digital information.* It was conceived because current commercial contract laws do not adequately define the relationship between software vendors and consumers. By standardizing these laws, the drafters of UCITA hoped to streamline transactions in the software industry, helping both vendors and consumers.

However, the law has spawned widespread controversy from many organizations which contend that it has too large a scope, is legally vague, and will endanger consumer rights. In spite of these objections, it was passed in 2000 by Maryland and Virginia, and is expected to be introduced in all 50 states.

Opponents of UCITA argue that the law will prevent consumers from owning the software they buy and make it easier for vendors to impose unfair restrictions on unsuspecting users. In addition, it would allow invasions of privacy and remove vendors' liability for selling defective products.

This investigation will examine UCITA and its consequences, analyze some of the arguments against it, and discuss the underlying issues behind these objections.

*quoted from

Hans Andersen, Jeff Raymakers, Jonathan Reichenthal
March 2001