December 06, 2000, 10:47 AM — Here is my short list of the most serious consequences that can result from general
enactment of UCITA in the states
One-sided shrinkwrap terms
UCITA's fundamental purpose of endorsing shrinkwrap licenses will make many
manifestly unfair terms enforceable in situations where today a judge would be free to
Remote disabling of software
UCITA's "electronic self help" and "automatic restraints" provisions give software
publishers the right to surreptitiously include time bombs and backdoors in their
software, exposing customers to enormous security risks.
Increased legal costs
UCITA creates a host of surprising outcomes under its default rules, forcing
corporate customers, small developers, independent consultants, b-to-b dot.coms, and
others to bring in the lawyers for what otherwise could be a handshake agreement.
UCITA's vendor-friendly rules for e-commerce will conflict with other state,
federal, and international efforts to bring order to the Internet, creating less
uniformity of law rather than more and exacerbating consumer distrust.
Software industry competition
Disclaimed warranties and other protections for the software industry provide
disincentives for companies to improve product quality and encourage the premature
release of buggy products.
UCITA offers protection from lawsuits to software publishers that knowingly
distribute software with bugs, even if they hide the knowledge from users who suffer
major damage as a result.
UCITA allows publishers and on-line services to materially modify terms of an
existing relationship by posting changes on their Web site, changes that are unlikely
to be noticed by many users.
Scope of law
UCITA threatens to bring its anti-consumer rules to a variety of industries beyond
software and even beyond high-tech fields.
Freedom of information
UCITA helps make it possible for commercial entities to erect barriers against free
exchange of information through libraries and academic institutions and even to put
restrictions on criticism of their products.