US Internet Law/UCITA

The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA)is the most complete attempt so far to bring standardization to the law of computer information transactions. In July, 1999, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws “NCCUSL”, after 10 years of work, approved the UCITA provisions and recommended that UCITA be enacted in all 50 states.

In the past, the American Law Institute “ALI” had worked with NCCUSL to study and draft new uniform state laws, however in the case of UCITA, ALI pulled out of the project because of concerns about the proposed act’s scope and its overall coherence and clarity as well as its treatment of customer rights. In fact ALI members had called for “fundamental revisions” to the proposed Act.

Prior to UCITA, and in states where it or other laws have not been adopted, the Uniform Commercial Code "UCC", still governs software sales. The UCC was developed in the 1940s and 1950s to standardize laws for the sale of goods across the U.S.

States must vote whether or not to adopt UCITA without change, with change or not at all. Two states have adopted UCITA with some modifications; the first was Maryland in 2000 and the second, Virginia in 2001. In subsequent years, not one other state has adopted UCITA. In fact four states have passed anti-UCITA laws (Iowa, North Carolina, West Virginia and Vermont). Massachusetts may be the next to pass what has come to be known as “bomb-shelter” legislation, preventing vendors from applying UCITA laws within the state.

UCITA is a proposed uniform law that would create new rules for software licensing, online access and other transactions in computer information. UCITA was originally a joint project of the American Law Institute (ALI) and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Both organizations have withdrawn support.

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