Opponents blast proposed software law

By Dorte Toft, Computer World |  Business

According to the letter from UCITA's Ring, the following software industry organizations are supporting the draft: industry antipiracy body the Business Software Alliance (14 members, among those Microsoft Corp, Lotus Development Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc.), the Software Information Industry Association, Silicon Valley Software Industry Coalition and the Computer Software Industry Association.

Not one consumer organization is supporting the draft, but the list of consumer organizations protesting against it is a long one.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an independent agency responsible for safeguarding the interests of consumers, in October last year wrote to the UCITA drafting committee expressing concerns and giving recommendations for changes. The FTC still has concerns relating to the new draft of the UCITA that will be voted on, the IDG News Service has learned. By Monday, the FTC is expected to send another letter to the drafting committee explaining the problems it has with the proposed act.

According to Miller, the UCITA especially protects consumers. Enterprises have the power to negotiate conditions with software vendors, Miller said.

When asked whether the UCITA covers issues that arise when hackers use a bug in a software product to harm end-user organizations, Miller said no.

Professor Braucher wouldn't be surprised if the draft statute is approved by NCCUSL members. "But I know many people who are not happy with the content," she said. Loyalty and strong leadership by the organization may make theem vote for the draft, she added.

"But it is a mess" and an example of bad legal craft, Braucher said.

Such objections may be the reason why the NCCUSL's normal partner when it comes to making uniform laws, the American Law Institute (ALI), withdrew from the project in April. At that time, the draft statute was under consideration by both organizations as an extension of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), and was known as Article 2B of the Uniform Commercial Code. The UCC is a long-standing statute that codifies commercial practices throughout the various states and currently covers, among other things, sale of goods and the leasing of personal property.

"The Council of the Institute continued to have significant reservations about both some of [Article 2B's] key substantive provisions and its overall clarity and coherence," the ALI said in its "ALI Reporter" newsletter.

The NCCUSL decided to carry on with the draft statute, renaming it the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act. While the UCC codifies well-established practices, the UCITA involves high technology, an area that is still evolving, the NCCUSL's Miller said. So it makes sense to keep the UCITA separate -- at least for now -- from the UCC, Miller said.

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